Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Wichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early (11) reacts after scoring against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men

Draft Prospect Profile: Cleanthony Early

A good fit in Memphis?

I love the idea of Cleanthony Early landing in Memphis.  Arguably the biggest need for the Grizzlies is at small forward.  Early plays small forward.  Down the road Memphis will need to address a void at power forward.  Early can also play power forward.  It actually works out perfectly as he is more NBA ready to play the small foward, but as his defense improves down the road he should be able to be a solid player at power forward as well.

Physical Tools

In terms of physical stats, Cleanthony is 6’7” and 209 pounds.  His wingspan is 6’10”, so he’s not overwhelmingly long, but he can move well enough to compensate.    His standing vertical was 34” which isn’t terrible for his weight.  Anthony is also a very solid athlete which can cover for any physical deficiencies he might have

Offensive game

Early is a very good offensive player.  He can be streaky from beyond the arc, but he ended up shooting 37.6% for the season.  His overall field goal percentage was 48.7%.  His free throw percentage was also 84.2%, which is above league average.  Early can clearly score which is something the Grizzlies are in dire need of.  Overall, Cleanthony can help boost the offense by spreading the floor with his shooting ability and that alone makes him a very valuable prospect.

Defensive game

This is an area where Early will need to adjust to the NBA level.  He wasn’t a bad defender, but he will need to improve his overall awareness and footwork to stay in front of the elite players of the league.  Early can hit the boards relatively well, but he only averaged about 6 per game.  He can also pick up steals and blocks, but not at an overwhelming rate.  Overall, he will have to improve his defensive game, but given time he should be able to adjust successfully.


Cleanthony Early would be a great fit for Memphis.  He was a leader on the Wichita State team that went undefeated during the regular season.  He scores very well and can fill the Grizzlies role of small forward down the road.  His defense is a question mark as of now, but it’s not enough of a concern to pass on him.  It is possible that if the Grizzlies were not to draft him that he might fall a bit, so it could be an option to trade down.  I honestly wouldn’t even take the risk, but who is on the board at the time will also affect the Grizzlies decision.  What Memphis does with the pick is yet to be seen, but I think Early would be a great addition to the team.

Statistics provided by Draft Express.


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