Since joining the NBA in 1995, the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies have been a rather successful franchise compared to other teams in the league. However, this does not mean the team hasn’t made its fair share of mistakes in the front office.
For the most part, the Grizzlies have had a clean slate in terms of front-office moves, making out quite well with most signings or trades they make. However, Memphis, like all teams, has made some pretty big mistakes when it comes to talent evaluation.
These players spent their first couple of years with the Grizzlies before being let go for one reason or another. What the Grizzlies didn’t know, however, is that once getting rid of these guys, they broke out into solid role players, or even stars in some cases.
Here are seven players the Memphis Grizzlies gave up on too soon:
7. SF Yuta Watanabe
While losing a player like Watanabe isn’t the end of the world, as he is just a solid rotational piece for the Nets, it still would have been nice if the Grizzlies opted to keep him. Watanabe went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, but would soon sign a two-way contract with the Grizzlies as a UDFA.
In his first two seasons with Memphis, Watanabe would appear in just 33 games, averaging 2.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.4 assists per game while shooting 35.3% from the field and 20.8% from beyond the arc.
It’s definitely understandable as to why the Grizzlies opted to let Watanabe walk in free agency. However, with how well he played this season for Brooklyn, it certainly would have been nice if he had stuck around.
This season, the Grizzlies are shooting 35.1% from three, which ranks 23rd in the NBA. Adding a player who just shot 44.4% from deep would certainly help the team’s offense out a lot. Watanabe likely wouldn’t play too much, but having this good of a three-point shooter on a below-averaging shooting team would be a vital boost.
Considering the mistakes some other teams have made with players, having Watanabe lead this list off goes to show how consistently solid the Grizzlies’ front office has been for years now.