The Grizzlies have worked out 12 draft prospects over the past two days at FedExForum, but since only two of the group really seem to be legitimate candidates for the team's two late first-round picks (#25 and #28), I'm going to (try to) keep this report brief.
Even with no candidates for the #12 pick on hand, the team got a close look at two legitimate late-first round candidates: Xavier's Jordan Crawford and Maryland's Greivis Vasquez.
Jordan Crawford: Draft Express has Crawford at #38 right now, which seems about right to me. He was a hard player to get a read on in a workout. His wiry frame and hunched-over posture make him look weak, but he's sneaky explosive, with a quick first step and the ability to finish above the rim. He did not shoot the ball all that well at the workout, but has a history of making big shots when it counts. You get the sense that he might shoot better in a game than in a workout. If Crawford makes it, he seems destined to be a high-volume, instant-offense guy in the mold of a Flip Murray or Marcus Thornton.
Greivis Vasquez: Vasquez has uniformly been down in the 50s in all mock drafts throughout the process, but I included him on my most recent Grizzlies draft board because his name comes up frequently in discussions about players the Grizzlies plan to look at. The team likes him and apparently that information is starting to get out, as Draft Express has moved Vasquez all the way up to the team's #28 pick.
Despite spending what felt like seven years at Maryland (okay, it was four), I hadn't really paid much attention to Vasquez before. And because of his age (23) and athleticism (very, very ordinary), I was skeptical of the idea that he'd be first-round worthy. I'm a little less skeptical now.
Vasquez looked pretty ordinary in initial solo and one-on-one drills, but when the team moved into three-on-three play, he began to stand out. More than anyone I can remember seeing in past draft workouts, Vasquez consistently made smart, effective passes to set up teammates for shots. He also talked to teammates and directed traffic — offensively and defensively — more than anyone I remember. He had a strong presence on the floor and backed it up with results. He also shot the ball fairly well in shooting drills, showing form that suggests that — with work — he can emerge as a viable three-point shooter.
Everyone talks about the Grizzlies need for more shooting, which is true, but there's also a need for players who can be effective offensively without scoring, that can help the team's primary scorers get more efficient shots. That's part of what the emphasis on "basketball IQ" is about, and Vasquez seems to score very highly in that regard. His blend of size and skill would also seem to be a great fit next to O.J. Mayo, allowing Mayo to come off screens and be a primary scorer on the offensive end while avoiding match-ups with bigger, stronger, two-guards on the defensive end.
I still think Vasquez's age and athleticism are serious concerns, but I now see why the Grizzlies seem to like him so much and how he could be a particularly good fit on this roster. It's somewhat encouraging that Vasquez ranked a surprisingly high 10th on John Hollinger's Draft Rater, with Hollinger citing Vasquez' blend of size and ball-handling ability.
Though he's not widely considered a first-rounder, look for Vasquez to get a very strong look from the Grizzlies at #25 or #28.
Yesterday, the focus was on forwards but the top invited prospect, VCU's Larry Sanders, was a late cancellation amid hints that he may have a promise earlier than 25. (For what it's worth, DraftExpress.com moved Sanders up to Minnesota's #16 pick in their new Mock Draft.) With Sanders gone, there were probably three draft-worthy prospects in the group: Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal (37 on Draft Express), the developmental league's Latavious Williams (46), and Serbian shooter Nemanja Bjelica (50).
Lawal and Williams are both athletic, undersized power forwards who have a chance to make an NBA roster, but neither seems worth a first-round pick, especially given the presence of under-sized four Darrell Arthur already on the roster. The physical Lawal seems like the second coming of former Griz short-timer Alexander Johnson. Williams seems like a slightly more promising long-term prospect, but may need a little more seasoning.
Bjelica might have the most upside. The very stereotype of a Euro forward, he's a long, fluid athlete who shoots really well but is too physically weak for the NBA right now. If the Grizzlies chose to keep all three picks and wanted a foreign player to stash at #28, I could see Bjelica getting some cursory consideration.
As of right now, the Grizzlies only have one more workout scheduled, though they could add something else at the last minute. That workout is Sunday and scheduled attendees include Patrick Patterson (a contender at #12), Terrico White, Devin Ebanks, and Willie Warren (all contenders at #25 and #28). I plan to be on hand for that workout and hope to have a report up by Sunday night.