The Portland Trail Blazers have signed Memphis Grizzlies castoff Wade Baldwin to a two-way contract. Steve Dewald reached out to Grizzly Bear Blues contributor Mark King to learn more about the former first-round pick.
Steve Dewald (@SteveDHoops): Given Baldwin's limited amount of playing time in his rookie season, it is safe to say that the majority of Portland's fans are unfamiliar with him. What are a couple key things that we should know about the 21-year-old guard?
Mark King (@king_producer): Baldwin had a lot of comps coming out of the draft, most notably Russell Westbrook, but that was only because he is super fast and an athletic guard. His biggest attribute is his size and athleticism but unfortunately, in the NBA, I’m not real sure where that gets you, and so far that hasn’t really translated to on-the-court skill for him at this level. His biggest weaknesses are his basketball IQ and his attitude. He really struggles in situations where he has to make quick decisions, which usually result in turnovers, blocked shots, and just plain bad shots. He has reportedly not ever had a great attitude which could present locker room problems given the right situation.
Steve: Baldwin only appeared in 33 games for the Grizzlies last season, and the majority of his minutes were spent at the point guard spot. Do you feel his future is at that position, or would a transition to shooting guard make more sense?
Mark: Wade Baldwin is not a point guard, at least right now. He drives to the basket with no real idea in mind of what he wants to do with the ball when he gets to where he is going, which leads to a lot of lost possessions. For him, I think transitioning to a shooting guard would benefit him more because of his speed. The only problem with that is he really does not shoot the ball well from the perimeter either. If he does not have to make decisions as the primary ball handler, he could actually do well cutting to the basket and driving to the basket off of screens. Anything that takes the major decisions out of it for him and makes the game easier to play would benefit Baldwin.
Steve: How big of a shock was it that the Grizzlies decided to release Baldwin after taking at pick No. 17 in the 2016 NBA Draft?
Mark: The Grizzlies releasing Wade Baldwin did not really come as a surprise to most fans and people who cover the team. Everything that he did in games and the preseason didn’t really show that he has earned a spot on the roster, given the other guys fighting for those two spots. Does it suck to have released your first-round pick from just a year ago? Sure, but for the Grizzlies it was the correct basketball decision. They had just signed Mario Chalmers as the backup PG, they still had Andrew Harrison on the roster, so having four guards, especially one of his caliber, didn’t really make much sense for the team.
Steve: You were at the Las Vegas Summer League this year, were you able to see any progress from Baldwin since he first entered the league?
Mark: That was one of the biggest knocks on Baldwin this year, he just didn’t show any progress. I argued that he didn’t play terrible at Summer League, but it was a tough argument to have, especially about your first-round pick. He spent most of the year in the G-League and you would have expected him to progress more on his decision making, shooting, and overall play but he just never did. Baldwin not advancing quick enough coupled with the fact that the Grizzlies have other guys on the bench that they wanted to invest more time in made Baldwin expendable.
Thank you again to Mark for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out more of his work by visiting Grizzly Bear Blues.