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Grizzlies Continue to Be Popular Pick for Vols’ Dalton Knecht

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Multiple projections have linked former Tennessee star Dalton Knecht to the state’s lone NBA franchise.

While it’s always important to remember that projections are just that, a projection, there’s also truth to the idea that where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.

Knecht could very well be the sharpshooting firestarter that the Memphis Grizzlies are looking for.

In ESPN’s latest mock draft from Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo, the expert pair have the Grizzlies taking Knecht with the ninth overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft.

“At 23 years old and coming off an All-America season, Knecht looks like an attractive option,” Givony wrote. “He’s one of the best shooters in this class, putting the ball in the basket in a variety of ways, and has the frame and length to play either wing position.”

Woo and Givony’s projection also comes after a projection to Memphis from College Sports Wire last week.

The reality though is that No. 9 might be Knecht’s floor in the draft. There’s been pretty constant chatter about the Spurs potentially taking Knecht with one of the two top-eight picks. Jeremy Woo reported that Knecht is one of the prospects that San Antonio is considering for that No. 8 pick with the Grizzlies right behind at the ninth slot.

More from RTI: Where Tennessee Basketball Lands In Post NBA Draft Deadline Way-Too-Early Rankings

As we talked about last week, there are a lot of advantages to a situation like Memphis. On one hand, the Grizzlies suffered injury after injury along with a superstar suspension last season, derailing their chances of being competitive in the 2023-2024 season. But with superstars back and recovered, the Grizzlies already have a well-built roster heading into the fall of 2024.

You know who else went into a well-built situation is still managed to find success? Dalton Knecht. The former Northern Colorado wing transferred onto a roster that already featured several upperclassmen including Josiah-Jordan James, Santiago Vescovi, Jahmai Mashack, and Zakai Zeigler. Knecht didn’t just fit in, though, he elevated the players around him. Knecht is built for a situation like Memphis and certainly won’t be adding any extra drama into the organization with his laid-back, basketball-first mindset and nature.

“An injury-plagued 2023-24 season gives the Grizzlies a chance to add more talent to a roster already featuring three significant building blocks of stars in Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane,” Woo wrote about Memphis. “Considering the team’s timetable, and the urgency surely in place to make a run back to the NBA playoffs next season, finding plug-and-play options who can contribute immediately without too long of a development runway will be important.”

The Portland Trail Blazers are also a sneaky team to watch with the 7th overall pick for Knecht, as Jonathan Wasserman writes in Bleacher Report’s latest mock draft.

If Knecht is drafted by Memphis and does not have his draft rights traded, he will be the first Vol in program history to be selected and signed by the Volunteer State’s NBA team. While former Vols Kennedy Chandler and Jarnell Stokes both ended up with Memphis as rookies, Chandler was originally drafted by San Antonio while Stokes was originally drafted by Utah. Both players had their draft rights traded during the draft.

Additionally, if Knecht goes at No. 9 in the draft, he will be the Vols’ highest-drafted player since Dale Ellis also went No. 9 overall in the 1983 NBA Draft to the Dallas Mavericks.

Here’s a look at Tennessee’s all-time first-round draft picks (round-pick):

  • 1-21: Keon Johnson
  • 1-28: Jaden Springer
  • 1-22: Grant Williams
  • 1-19: Tobias Harris
  • 1-13: Marcus Haislip
  • 1-22: Ed Gray
  • 1-11: Allan Houston
  • 1-9: Dale Ellis
  • 1-15: Reggie Johnson
  • 1-7: Bernard King
  • 1-11: Ernie Grunfeld
  • 1-4: Tom Boerwinkle

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