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Could Dalton Knecht Stay In State After the NBA Draft?

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee G Dalton Knecht. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Could Dalton Knecht be staying in the Volunteer State coming out of the 2024 NBA Draft?

It’s certainly a possibility.

Knecht dazzled professional scouts during his lone season at Tennessee. The 6-foot-6 guard gave Tennessee a true scoring option as he was named the SEC Player of the Year after averaging 21.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 45.8 percent shooting during his first and only year of Power 5 action.

Knecht worked his way up NBA draft boards throughout the season but his star really rose as Tennessee went through SEC play. The Tennessee guard lit up SEC teams like Auburn, Florida, and Kentucky to the tune of six games with 35 or more points across the season. Rick Barnes described Knecht as a “flamethrower,” which is certainly what NBA scouts are hoping to bring to their organization.

Andy Patton of College Sports Wire recently mocked Knecht to the Memphis Grizzlies with the ninth overall pick, highlighting how Memphis is not necessarily in a “rebuilding” mode like other teams. Bringing in an older player such as Knecht could be beneficial with his maturity and pro-ready nature.

“Knecht is perhaps the most NBA-ready prospect in this class; he dominated during his first and only season in the SEC with Tennessee,” Patton wrote. “Memphis has sharpshooters Desmond Bane and Luke Kennard, but more shooting never hurt anybody and Knecht proved he has more in his bag during the season and at the combine.”

Knecht hasn’t been mocked to the Grizzlies too often, though. Many mock drafts have Knecht at either eighth to the Spurs, 10th to the Jazz, or 11th to the Bulls. But that doesn’t mean that Grind City isn’t a possibility.

Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commerical Appeal highlighted five prospects that the Grizzlies should have their eye on in June’s draft, with Knecht being the third player on the list. Cole starts with a similar note to Patton, spotlighting Knecht’s 23-year-old frame needing less work than some of the 18- to 19-year-old prospects.

“Knecht’s shooting could get him on the floor in a reserve role for Memphis playing alongside the likes of Luke Kennard and Brandon Clarke,” Cole wrote about Knecht’s fit in Memphis.

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The Grizzlies don’t have a Top 10 overall pick because of bad players signed to the roster. Memphis dealt with injuries and suspensions last season, only resulting in nine games played from star guard Ja Morant and 20 games from offseason addition Marcus Smart. The Grizzlies have a strong core, especially for the Western Conference: Morant, Smart, GG Jackson, Jaren Jackson, and Desmond Bane. Adding in Knecht, at least for the 23-year-old college star, would be sort of a familiar situation.

Knecht inserted himself into a Tennessee roster that already had Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi, Zakai Zeigler, and Jahmai Mashack. While Tennessee did need offense, these four guards had been multi-year players in the system and had the culture set in Knoxville. Knecht didn’t just come into an already-built core but flourished while raising the game of his teammates in the process. Knecht garnered high praise throughout the season from his teammates and coaches about his willingness to adapt, learn, and evolve while still staying within the guidelines of who the program is. And he did that with flying colors.

For a team that has been in the media for less-than-productive reasons over the last few years, the Grizzlies certainly wouldn’t see any added drama by drafting Knecht. The former Northern Colorado transfer is all about getting in his work on the court and being a good teammate in the process.

There’s a lot that goes into drafting a player for their skillset on the court, and the Grizzlies’ various beat writers have a better indication of the strengths and weaknesses of the roster. But Knecht is a player who has a phenomenal catch-and-shoot ability, can play off of Memphis’ ballhandlers, can create his own offense, and certainly picked up a thing or two about defense from Rick Barnes no matter what the detractors nationally might say.

The Western Conference is stacked with young talent. Luka Doncic and Anthony Edwards are two players ages 25 and 22, respectively, who are looking to take their team to the NBA Finals for the first time. Knecht could be that young, mature piece that Memphis needs.

Dalton Knecht would be a great fit for several NBA franchises around the league, but a spot in Memphis certainly could make sense. We’ll just have to wait and find out when the NBA Draft rolls around from June 27-28 in New York.

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