Rabb, 20, likely would have been a lottery pick had he declared for the draft last season. Instead, he returned to school, presumably with the hopes of improving his game and his draft stock in the process.
Instead, the opposite transpired, as Rabb fell out of the lottery discussion and down the board. From a numbers perspective, Rabb didn’t dramatically showcase improvement.
He also didn’t reach the heights during his time at Cal that many fans likely would have hoped for, per Ben Ross of NBC Sports Authentic:
In the age of the stretch 4, Rabb is more of an interior threat offensively and may be better suited to playing center at the NBA level if he can add bulk and become a better rim protector. He needs to improve as a defender in general, although he is a very good rebounder, which should translate as his best skill at the pro level.
Still, Rabb appears to be a man stuck between positions.
He doesn’t yet have the strength or defensive presence to translate as an impactful center, and he doesn’t have a consistent jumper or the range to stretch defenses to the perimeter—a trait that has become vital for modern power forwards. In that regard, Rabb‘s ultimate role in the NBA remains unclear.
As B/R’s Jonathan Wasserman wrote of Rabb in early April: “Rabb‘s best attributes are his hands, nose for the ball and motor around the basket. Without the ability to protect the rim, guard the perimeter or stretch the floor, he’ll be limited to bench minutes in the NBA.”
Sam Vecenie of the Sporting News sees a role in the NBA for Rabb, however:
His length, finishing at the rim and rebounding leave Rabb with upside, and if he can improve on some of his weaknesses, he should have room to grow into a solid player.
The hope for Memphis will be that Rabb‘s disappointing sophomore season was a product of Cal’s overall lack of talent and Cuonzo Martin’s offensive philosophy, and not an indication of a relatively low ceiling for the player.
summer. In an effort to avoid losing Favors without getting anything in return, he could be traded this summer.
That, in turn, could open the door to more playing time for Rabb. But for the time being, it appears he’ll spend most of his rookie season on the bench.
The Grizzlies are in need of help at power forward next season. Zach Randolph, who averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 73 games last season, is an unrestricted free agent and will turn 36 on July 16.
Rabb is going to need a lot of coaching and development to get back on the track it looked like he was on when his career at Cal started. David Fizdale and the Grizzlies staff will happily take the challenge, as they look to build a team that can get beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
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