When the Memphis Grizzlies drafted David Roddy from Colorado State with the 23rd pick in the NBA Draft, it came as a surprise to most fans. However, Roddy was a player Memphis had in its sights throughout the entire pre-draft process.
The Grizzlies liked Roddy so much that they were willing to trade De’Anthony Melton to return to the first round for the 6-foot-5, 255-pound combo forward.
Roddy was the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year last season and played the majority of his minutes at power forward and center. He averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks.
The Commercial Appeal caught up with Kevin Lytle, who covers Colorado State basketball for the Coloradoan and has watched Roddy for the past three seasons.
Kevin Lytle on Grizzlies draft pick David Roddy
CALIFORNIA: In which position in the NBA do you think David Roddy fits best and why?
Lytle: It’s going to be interesting to watch because his primary job at Colorado State was four, but they actually used him a lot at five. I really can’t see him playing five in the NBA. I think he’s going to rebound more between 3 and 4, depending on matchups and defensive responsibilities. It will be interesting to watch because he moved up and down the lineup at Colorado State.
CALIFORNIA: How do you think Roddy will fare against faster guys who are a little lighter?
Lytle: I think that’s probably the biggest improvement he’s going to have to make, but he defended a lot of different types of guys at Colorado State. What I think helps him is that even though he’s small, he has a pretty long wingspan. That helps and he’s really explosive when it comes to getting up to find a jump shot. Lateral quickness, I think that’s going to be a big thing to improve, but I’d say it’s not as bad as some people want to make it out to be. It’s not that he lacks athleticism. He just isn’t the best athleticism when it comes to that. Year after year he improved quite dramatically at Colorado State, so I hope that continues.
CALIFORNIA: How will he fit into the Grizzlies’ locker room environment?
Lytle: He’s an interesting guy. On the court, he has this angry face. He basically looks angry the entire game. He plays with a real chip on his shoulder. He is one of those guys who will take any slight, whether real or imagined, and use it as motivation. For example, they were playing in New Mexico this year and in morning shootout, there was basically a timing conflict. The state of Colorado thought it was one time, they showed up and basically told them the gym was not available. The team thought it was a game thing. Actually, I don’t know if it was or not, but Roddy was furious and he threw 36 or something at them. He plays with that real fire, but he’s also a funny and likeable kid off the court.
CALIFORNIA: How do you think his shot creation skills will translate to the NBA?
Lytle: I think that’s where his improvement came in. When he started out, he was a guy who succeeded based on athleticism and determination, and then he just refined his game. He was a terrible 3-point shooter when he started out, but they liked the form of him, they felt he could grow and get better at it, and sure enough, he was shooting 44% last year. He can go a lot of different ways, he has a good fade, he can score with the dribble. I think he’ll be able to do a lot of that, and the cool thing is he was the No. 1 and No. 2 option for Colorado State, so defenses built everything around him, whereas that won’t be the case in Memphis. He’s probably going to have a little more floor space and room to work.
CALIFORNIA: Did you feel that Roddy would be recruited at the rank that he did?
Lytle: It was probably a little higher than he expected, but as the season went on, that conversation definitely started to heat up. At the beginning of the season, I think most people expected him to come back and play his fourth year. The thought here and what he kind of had was probably late in the first round or early in the second round, so 23 is probably a little bit earlier than anticipated, but not by a giant leap or anything like that.
CALIFORNIA: Roddy went from 23% shooting from 3-point range in his first two seasons to 43.8% as a junior. What happened? What led to that change?
Lytle: It’s basically nonstop work in the offseason. Even in his freshman year, he shot 19% from three, but when he was in practice, he was shooting between 100 and 200 shots. It was basically just a commitment to him.