MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Ivan Rabb
MEMPHIS – Midway through a disappointing and injury-riddled season, the Grizzlies shifted their focus to development for the immediate future.
As a result, the final months of a 22-60 finish were dedicated to fast-tracking the growth and evaluation of rookies, second-year and third-year players on the roster, with contract decisions looming on many of them within the next couple of seasons.
While newcomers Dillon Brooks and Ivan Rabb appear to be steals from the second round of last year’s draft, the jury remains out on prospects such as Deyonta Davis and Wayne Selden. In either case, the Grizzlies missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years and head toward the May 15 Draft Lottery assured of no worse than a top-five pick in the June 21 NBA Draft.
The Grizzlies also have the second pick (No. 32 overall) in the second round and the full midlevel exception in free agency to upgrade the roster, address needs and chart a path back to the playoffs.
After starting Grind City Media’s ‘Offseason Outlook’ last week with my personal analysis of the coaching situation and roster veterans, we continue this week with a focus on young players the Grizzlies view as assets.
Player: Ivan Rabb, 21
Measurables: 6-10, 220 – 1st NBA Season
2017-18 Stats: 5.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 0.9apg in 14.3mpg, shot 56.6% overall from the field.
Status: Due $1.3 million for 2018-19 salary in second season of a three-year rookie contract.
Rabb’s 56.6-percent field-goal shooting ranks fourth among all rookies who played at least 30 games this season, behind Golden State’s Jordan Bell, Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen and Atlanta’s John Collins.
Rabb showed all the signs why the Grizzlies maneuvered high into the second round of last summer’s draft to grab him at No. 35 overall. The face-up game. The footwork in the post. The agility, improvement mindset and high basketball IQ. They’re all there in the making with Rabb, who spent the first half of the season primarily with the G League’s Memphis Hustle before coming up to the Grizzlies down the stretch. There’s so much about Rabb’s potential and mannerisms that remind you of a developing Chris Bosh. Rabb doesn’t overwhelm with athleticism, but never backed down from his apprenticeship against elite NBA forwards from Blake Griffin to Carmelo Anthony to Anthony Davis. Rabb had three double-doubles, his jumper stretches to 20 feet, and he can make plays off the dribble.
An ankle injury that knocked him out of last year’s Las Vegas Summer League and a concussion that sidelined him early in the G League season both slowed Rabb’s NBA transition after he spent two years in college at California. Although he showed promising flashes with the Grizzlies late in the season, Rabb is still about 20 pounds too light to be a consistently impactful player in the post. Average NBA big men pushed Rabb around with ease under the boards, and his shot-blocking was relatively non-existent. In 36 games, including five starts and 516 minutes of playing time, Rabb never shot a three. So in addition to hitting the weight room, Rabb must also extend his shooting range to truly thrive in the ‘Stretch-Four’ era. Right now, his defense lags a stage or two behind his offensive skillset.
As the roster is currently constituted, Rabb stands to be the biggest victim of the Grizzlies’ numbers crunch at the big forward spot. Barring a trade, and if everyone returns relatively healthy, Rabb may initially open next season behind JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin and, possibly, Chandler Parsons at power forward. And that doesn’t even include the possibility of using June’s lottery pick on another big man. But with Green and Martin entering the last year of their contracts, Rabb could use another season of grooming as a potential replacement via attrition. What’s obvious is that despite some recent misses and/or bad breaks on first-round draft picks, the Grizzlies landed two long-term keepers in Rabb and Brooks in last year’s second round. Rabb should be on course to soon join Brooks as a rotation regular.
I just had to come in with the right mindset. I feel like I can play on any team and at any time, so I’m just preparing. We have a top-five pick, a ton of young guys and we’re hungry. I’m going to do all I can to be one of those young guys on the floor next season. I don’t want to be on the floor just because we’re not that good. I want to be one of the (key) guys helping us win. I’ve got to get better, get stronger. I feel like I can play both (center and power forward) positions. I just want to be on the floor.
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