With the Memphis Grizzlies’ season kicking off in late October, that also means the return of their D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy. Last year, three players—James Ennis, Russ Smith and Jarell Martin—played minutes with the Grizzlies after excelling with the Energy. In a series of analyses, we’ll go through the roster in an attempt to decipher who has the greatest chance to earn a call-up to the NBA in 2016-2017.
Terry Whisnant, guard
Terry Whisnant, who played collegiately at Florida State and East Carolina University, is one of the younger players on the Iowa Energy’s roster at 23 years old. The former Pirate made his professional debut in the D-League last season, leading Iowa in minutes played.
Whisnant made a name for himself after transferring to East Carolina his junior year, where he led the team in offensive rating at 114.6 and was second in points per game at 12.3. His main contribution, though, was from behind the arc. Whisnant shot .395 from 3-point land in American Athletic Conference play, a more than solid clip for someone taking 7.8 attempts per game (.680 3-point attempt rate). His 77 makes (.370) over the entire season put him at fourth amongst AAC players. Whisnant elected to not play his senior year in order to pursue a professional career.
Whisnant filled a similar role with the Energy, where he was eighth in the D-League with 110 made 3-pointers in 2015-2016. His percentage stayed at a steady .378 rate—far above the D-League (.357) and NBA (.354) averages from last season—while adjusting to the new length of the professional 3-point line. Despite not dishing out a lot of assists, Whisnant did have the second-lowest turnover ratio on the Energy last year amongst players with at least 12 appearances.
2015-2016 D-League Stats: 50 G, 33 GS, 32.8 MPG, 11.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 TOPG, .378 3P%, .562 TS%, .793 FT%
NBA Stats: N/A
Odds of receiving a call-up?
Of the younger (or even established) players on the Iowa Energy, Whisnant is already a polished shooter. After shooting 33.1 percent from behind the arc last season, that’s certainly what the Grizzlies need. During the offseason, Memphis tried to address that need with the signing of Chandler Parsons and drafting of Wade Baldwin IV. However, it may be tough for Whisnant to receive a call-up given the presence of guard Andrew Harrison, who can penetrate better and get to the free throw line more often than Whisnant. Though, shooting guard lacks depth more than any position on the Grizzlies’ roster and it’s unknown how Vince Carter’s 39-year-old body will handle the wear and tear of an 82-game season.
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If the opportunity presents itself, there’s no doubt Whisnant will be able to score at the highest level, but will the rest of his game be on par with his NBA peers?