MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Wayne Selden Jr.
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: Wayne Selden Jr., 23
Measurables: 6-5, 230 – 2nd NBA Season
2017-18 Stats: 9.3ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.9apg in 19.8mpg, shot 40.2% (career-high) from three-point range.
Status: Due $1.5 million for 2018-19 salary in third season of a three-year contract.
Selden’s 40.2-percent clip from three-point range in 35 games was third-best on the team behind MarShon Brooks (59.4% in seven games) and Chandler Parsons (42.1% in 36 games) this season.
There’s a pretty good reason his last three NBA coaches continued to essentially leave the porch lights on and the door unlocked to their rotation for Selden. It’s because they know when he gets right, shows up and sustains that effort and energy level, highlights tend to happen. Selden has everything you want in an NBA shooting guard, from the muscular and lean body type to the explosive athleticism, the tough mindset to impact both ends of the court and the ability to finish with contact at the rim. This season, despite limited availability, Selden also showed spectacular improvement on his three-ball, spiking from 25 percent last season to 40.2 percent this season. He’s on the verge of putting it all together as a natural and complete scorer, having reached double figures seven of his last nine games.
Will next season finally be Selden’s breakout time, or will he continue to be a tease? It’s a fair question, and one that needs to be answered in short order. Counting on Selden to be healthy and consistent has been an exercise in exasperation since he arrived late in the 2016-17 season and ended up starting for Memphis in that first-round series against the Spurs. After then tearing it up in Las Vegas to make the All Summer League Team, Selden suffered a quad/knee injury in the second game of the preseason and would miss a total of 47 games. He came back to torch the Pelicans for a career-high 31 points on Jan. 20 and lit up Indiana with six threes on Jan. 31, but he was out of action again with knee soreness in February. In truly lean times, Selden has been fascinatingly feast or famine for the Grizzlies.
If healthy, Selden is certainly a keeper in this rotation and possibly a preferred option to start at shooting guard or small forward, given the current makeup of the roster. But with the front-office leaving the door open for Tyreke Evans to return on the midlevel exception in free agency this summer, and also having secured a deal with end-of-season sensation MarShon Brooks for next season, the Grizzlies appear to be prioritizing depth and insurance on the wing. Selden’s youth, versatility and price tag make him an ideal fit and should give him an inside track to rotation minutes. There should be adequate motivation heading into a contract year. But the time is now for Selden to put all of those remarkable tools together and transform his obvious promise and potential into sustained production.
I think we have a good young core ready to compete, that’s going to go out and work hard every night, and that’s going to only get better. We’re working in the right direction. For the games I could play, I feel like I played solid. I wish I could have played more games, which is obviously my goal next year; to play in as many games as possible … and take it as far as we can.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.