Moving up: Grizzlies trade 2 1st-round picks to get LaRavia
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Jake LaRavia wasn’t just worth a first-round pick. The way the Memphis Grizzlies saw it, he was worth two of them.
The Grizzlies moved the 22nd and 29th picks in Thursday’s NBA draft to Minnesota for the 19th pick — which became LaRavia, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Wake Forest.
“Jake LaRavia is just an incredibly underrated defender coming in,” Zach Kleiman, the Grizzlies executive vice president of basketball operations said. “We love the versatility he brings. The instincts he has.”
Auburn’s Walker Kessler was the No. 22 pick, and Kentucky’s TyTy Washington was the No. 29 pick — both of those players heading to Minnesota.
It was all part of a busy night of movement for the Grizzlies, who also obtained the rights to the No. 23 pick David Roddy from Philadelphia as part of another trade. Kleiman confirmed the Roddy pick from Philadelphia but couldn’t discuss the details of the trade because it hadn’t been finalized.
A person with knowledge of the situation said Roddy and injured veteran guard Danny Green were sent to Memphis for De’Anthony Melton. The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the deal had not been announced.
“We just think (LaRavia) is really good, and I can see a lot of the same in Roddy,” Kleiman said. “We got two unique players.”
In the second round, Memphis moved up again obtaining Kennedy Chandler, a 6-foot guard out of the University of Tennessee, the San Antonio Spurs 38th overall pick. Chandler, who is from Memphis, wore a Grizzlies hat at his watch party in Memphis when the San Antonio pick was announced.
Chandler relies on quickness and defensive aggressiveness. He averaged 13.9 points and 4.7 assists in his only year at Tennessee, improving as the season progressed.
“Kennedy Chandler is really going to surprise some people,” Kleiman said.
With the 47th overall pick, the Grizzlies chose Vince Williams, a senior forward out of VCU, who averaged 14.1 points and 6.0 rebounds last season.
LaRavia started his college career at Indiana State before transferring to Wake Forest. His transition to the ACC improved his play, averaging 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season, along with 1.7 steals.
LaRavia shot 56% overall from the field, including 38% last season for the Demon Deacons.
The Grizzlies made great strides last season moving up from making the postseason after a play-in tournament in 2021 to the second-best record in the league this past season at 56-26. Memphis was eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by Golden State, the eventual NBA champions.
And some of last season’s success was done without first-time All-Star and leading scorer Ja Morant, who missed 25 games during the regular season with injuries.
Memphis went 20-5 in those games, a testament to the team’s chemistry and depth.