I think it's fairly obvious at this point that Kevin Love is the superior NBA player to OJ Mayo. We've discussed a good deal of that notion this week with Andrew's post on Mayo's hype, and Kevin touched on the subject on the Phil Naessans' Show as well. But other than the direct swap of Love and Mayo, what other effects did this move have in the long run of the Memphis Grizzlies?
When you look at this in retrospect it immediately comes off as a bitter-tasting-gaff. We traded Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins for OJ Mayo and a bag of sand. That bag of sand included the remains of Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner. For those of you who don't know: Walker never played in the NBA again, Jaric and Buckner played one season as spot-minute backups before retiring. Say what you will about the veterans we traded, but Cardinal won a championship, Collins played another 6 seasons and the Griz just reacquired Miller in what was the highlight signing of the offseason.
Blecch! So rewind all of that and let's act like it never happened. Let's pretend as though the Grizzlies aren't sold on Mayo or any other top guards and they decide to build the future around Kevin Love. Here's how the dominoes fall:
- Mike Miller hangs around for the next season
- Instead of the Grizzlies drafting late first rounder Donte Green and trading him for Darrell Arthur, the Griz trade back into the 2nd round and take a young guard named Chris Douglas-Roberts to develop and fill up some seats in FedexForum.
- With a solid starter at PF, the Grizzlies trade Hakim Warrick for additional help at SG.
- After another disastrous season, the Grizzlies trade Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and a 1st round pick to the Jazz for Kosta Koufos and Ronnie Brewer.
- With Kevin Love in place, the Grizzlies never trade for Zach Randolph.
- With a young talent like Koufos at center, the Grizzlies look at the crop of guards in the 2009 NBA Draft. In a move that shakes the universe in unfathomable ways, the Grizzlies select James Harden with the #2 pick and Hasheem Thabeet falls to the Thunder at #3.
- With Koufos and Gasol fighting for the center spot, Hamed Haddadi never sticks on the roster.
- With a #2 pick actually contributing in Harden, the Grizzlies edge out the Thunder for the 8th seed in the 2010 playoffs, but are swept in the first round by the Lakers.
- After making the playoffs, Michael Heisley isn't starved for star
powerpotential in Memphis and lets Rudy Gay walk in free agency. In the 2010 NBA Draft, the Grizzlies use both of their first round picks and trade up to select Paul George as heir replacement at small forward.
- With a core five of Mike Conley, James Harden, Paul George, Kevin Love and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies excel in 2010-11 and capture the 6th seed in the Western Conference. After first and 2nd round upsets of the Dallas Mavericks and LA Lakers, the Grizzlies defeat the top seeded Spurs in the Western Conference Finals and go on to beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals due to Lebron's infamous choke jobs in game 6 and 7.
And there you have it. Who knew that one draft day trade was all that stood between us and an NBA Championship? Haha, right? Well it's probably a bit of a stretch, especially knowing Michael Heisley. But this was my imagination, and dammit we're all bored right now anyway. Realistically speaking, however, I think there is little chance that Zach Randolph ever ends up in Beale St blue, and there's a very good chance that they take a guard, instead of a center, in the 2009 draft.
But heck, I'm pretty pleased with the way things turned out, and I'm looking forward to winning the 2014 NBA Championship.