With just under a week to go till their October 25 opening night tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies still find themselves with a serious rotational question mark when it comes to their wing position.
While there has been extensive experimentation within the starting lineup at the three spot throughout the preseason, with sophomore David Roddy and third-year vet Ziaire Williams revolving in and out at the position, it appears that even head coach Taylor Jenkins is still unsure of how things will ultimately shake out.
In an effort to address this situation, the folks at Bleacher Report recently constructed a hypothetical trade idea that, in their eyes, would see the Grizzlies attain a player who is more likely “to deliver a better 2023-24 season” than these aforementioned talents.
The proposed transaction reads as follows:
Grizzlies trade proposal flips Ziaire Williams for AJ Griffin of the Atlanta Hawks
Considering the team’s desire to be in win-now mode, writer Zach Buckley argues that adding the more stable AJ Griffin into their lineup could be more valuable in their pursuits than holding onto the hope of Williams’ untapped potential.
"“The Grizzlies haven’t abandoned hope in Williams, the No. 10 pick in 2021, but their return on investment has been nonexistent. He played a lot as a rookie and a lot less as a sophomore, and he wasn’t particularly productive or efficient in either season.At some point, Memphis might prefer more stability in that spot, and that’s what Griffin could provide. He may not have the same upside, but he did come out of his first NBA season with a 46.5/39/89.4 shooting slash and some solid defensive film.Williams could eventually become the better player, but his ceiling is theoretical and will remain that way until he actually starts taking steps toward it,” Buckley wrote."
As noted by Buckley, Williams has yet to live up to his lofty status of being a recently selected lottery pick. The 22-year-old found himself regressing in virtually all areas of the game during his latest sophomore run compared to his rookie year, and sports middling career averages of 7.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists on just 44.4 percent shooting from the field and 29.8 percent from deep.
In many ways, adding the 16 overall pick from last year’s draft in Griffin could prove to have an immediate positive impact on the Grizzlies, as he’s already shown himself to be a more reliable long-range shooter (something this team needs after finishing eighth-worst in three-point percentage last year) and is coming off his rookie season where he posted solid averages of 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and just shy of a steal in under 20 minutes played per night.
That being said, coming into year three it appears Williams is looking to finally prove his worth to Memphis, as he’s publicly stated that he’s “ready” to take on a starting role within Jenkins’ rotation.
Through four preseason games played, it already seems as if he’s convincing others that he’s ready as well.
Logging 20.4 minutes a game, Williams is displaying improvements in several areas of his play and seems to be more comfortable when put in scoring situations. Thus far, the wing finds himself posting impressive averages of 11.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and just shy of a block on 50.0 percent shooting from the field and 45.0 percent shooting from distance.
Though this type of productivity has come in preseason play, it does suggest that the youngster could finally be on the cusp of a breakout.
With all this in mind, while it could be argued that partaking in Buckley’s hypothetical trade could be the safer move for the Grizzlies to make, at this point in time the allure of Williams’ upside seems to be inching closer to its highest point yet which, in turn, makes such a move much harder to pull the trigger on.