Grizzlies’ rookie Wade Baldwin IV is all business

Despite being only 20 years old, Memphis Grizzlies rookie guard Wade Baldwin IV has a unique sense of maturity and a competitive drive that’ll push him to the top.

The distance from Wade Baldwin IV’s alma mater, Vanderbilt University, to the FedEx Forum isn’t long — just over three hours by car — but Baldwin’s first summer as a professional athlete has taken him all over the country.

Since being taken 17th overall by the Grizzlies during the NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York, Baldwin has been living out of a suitcase and in hotel rooms all across the country. Many of his new teammates have been able to use the summer season to take time off to vacation and spend time with family.

Though, Baldwin was positive on the Fastbreak Breakfast podcast, saying “It’s a fun process.”

Since playing his final game as a Commodore in Dayton, Baldwin has been to Chicago, Brooklyn and even Las Vegas for the 2016 Summer League.

Though, Baldwin, who’s still only 20 years old, didn’t have a lot to do outside of the basketball court and his hotel room.

Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Wade Baldwin IV (Vanderbilt) greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number seventeen overall pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“I can’t even go out and do anything,” he told Fastbreak Breakfast. “I was in the hotel room watching movies and just playing in the games.”

The location of the Summer League wouldn’t have played a role in Baldwin’s attitude, however. He continued to say, “You got to stick to your morales, I’m not the type of guy to go out and be crazy … What do you do when nobody is looking?”

That discipline has been instilled in the New Jersey-native since his childhood: Baldwin’s mother works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and his father is in the Drug Enforcement Agency.

We’ve seen plenty of young NBA players steered off their paths to success due to hanging out with the wrong crowd, but that doesn’t seem like it’ll be an issue for Baldwin.

He told Fastbreak Breakfast: “I surround myself with a lot of people who are similar to me. I know guys who love playing video games and love playing basketball and that’s the main thing for me … I’m a laid back guy … and am about doing what’s right.” 

The drive to be great

Baldwin’s top attributes as a prospect were his shooting ability — he shot 43.6 percent from behind the arc during his college career — and savvy passing ability.

However, when Baldwin’s jump shot escaped him during the summer, he decided it was time to place an emphasis on his all-around game.

“There’s guys who want to shoot 1,000 times a day,” he said on Fastbreak Breakfast. “I want to shoot 1,000 times a day and do something else and be great.”

Baldwin averaged 15.9 points per 36 minutes during the summer, a performance for which he gave himself a “C” as a grade.

Be sure to not confuse Baldwin’s low-key attitude with a lack of confidence. After all, he pretty much describes Russell Westbrook when talking about his own strengths. 

Under the perfect leader

After an abnormal relationship with Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings, it appears Baldwin can relax and be himself around Grizzlies’ coach David Fizdale.

“A remarkable person,” Baldwin said on the podcast. “His character is great and he is easy with the players in terms of managing and being a guy you can laugh around and speak to. He’s only had open arms to me and the other 20 guys in this program.” 

“There’s guys who want to shoot 1,000 times a day. I want to shoot 1,000 times a day and do something else and be great.”

As for Fizdale’s approach to how his new rookie plays, Baldwin said it’s “real simple.”

“He talks slow and he looks you in the eye, ‘Just be aggressive, Wade.’ That’s been his message to me all summer long and in the Summer League: ‘Just be aggressive, make mistakes, it’s OK.'”

Baldwin eager to carve a consistent role in the Grizzlies’ rotation

With the signing of Chandler Parsons combined with the return of Marc Gasol, Memphis boasts one of the strongest lineups it’s seen in years. However, a lack of depth has been noted by media critics.

His statement to Fastbreak Breakfast about “proper preparation” and how it “will lead to playing time” was cliché, but the way Baldwin describes his drive is unique.

“This comes back to the competitiveness … each day you have to re-prove yourself to be trusted and that you deserve to be on an NBA court.” 

Though, he added that “Whatever role I can fit on the team is what I’m going to do.”

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