I walked through the media/employee entrance to the FedEx Forum around 5:55 p.m. on draft night. A security guard pointed me in the direction of a sheet of paper that had names of every media personnel that was authorized to attend the draft viewing party that was going on inside the Don Poir Media Center. My name was not on the list. I flipped through each page several times looking for a Chip Williams, but there wasn't one to be found. I then notice a sheet of college ruled notebook paper that had four names on it. Ah, there I am. "Chip Williams - Grizzly Bear Blues" was written in blue ink pen. I felt really important then. I put a check mark by my name and headed down to the media room.
Once the draft got rolling, I was seated at a table with some pretty smart basketball minds that included Nikki Boertman (aka Photo Nikki from the Commercial Appeal), Brandon Speck (Fox Sports Tennessee), Anthony Sain, Zach Thomas, and Phillip Dean. The first seven picks went, for the most part, according to plan. The only minor shocker seemed to be Aaron Gordon going to the Orlando Magic at four; therefore, causing the great unknown, Dante Exum, to fall to the Utah Jazz at five.
Then the real fun began. The anticipation with every passing pick.
- "Who's slipping to us?"
- "Are we going to pull the trigger on the Toronto deal?"
- "No way Rodney Hood AND Kyle Anderson will be there, right?"
These were some of the popular topics of discussion at the various tables; I'm sure not unlike some of the conversations you had with whomever you were watching the draft with. Our table conjured up every possibly scenario, both good and bad, that could play out by the time it was the Grizzlies' turn to pick.
When Toronto selected Bruno Caboclo, (side note: I really hope if he ever makes it to the NBA that he just wears Bruno on the back of his jersey, Brazilian soccer player style.) a collective, "WHO?!" rang out through the media room. The shock and awe was quickly quelled once everyone realized that this meant out of the group of Rodney Hood, Kyle Anderson, P.J. Hairston, and Clint Capela at worst three of the four would be there when the Grizzlies selected at twenty-two.
Oklahoma City made all four available when they selected former Michigan big-man Mitch McGary. Everyone in the media room was licking their chops. Most, including me, seemed to want Kyle Anderson. While others were completely sold on the idea of bringing in Rodney Hood to replace the seemingly broken down Tayshaun Prince.
Every single media member was frantically refreshing Twitter to find out which national NBA writer was going to spoil the Grizzlies' twenty-second selection. "It's Jordan Adams." one of them shouted. I remember thinking to myself, "HA! Yeah, right. There's too many awesome players on the board to select Jordan Adams."
He was right, though. "With the 22nd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies select.........Jordan Adams from UCLA."
*Insert crickets chirping*
Silence, shock, and disappointment is a fair way to sum up the media room. Now, this was not due to the fact that Jordan Adams is not a good basketball player because analytics and advanced statistics suggest that he is a phenomenal talent. The disdain was more geared toward the fact we passed up an opportunity to acquire the rights to a small forward who could possibly step-in and give productive minutes from day one. Also, there is a bit of a logjam at the shooting guard position. Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Jamaal Franklin, Quincy Pondexter, and Mike Miller all saw time at shooting guard at some point last season for the Beale Street bears.
Most in the room anticipated that this move makes either Courtney Lee or Quincy Pondexter expendable via trade this offseason. It could possibly even mean packaging one of the two along with Tayshaun Prince to move off of his deal in order to have some extra cash to spend in free agency
So once the media members had time to delve into who Jordan Adams really was, the consensus was: good pick, surprising, but understandable. Officially, the Grizzlies did not have any more picks, but their night was not over.
It was certainly a punch right to the gut when Kyle Anderson was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 30th and final pick in the first round. One member even said, "Well, looks like the Spurs just drafted the 2017 Finals MVP." Let's hope he is wrong, but knowing the Spurs, he's probably correct in his thinking.
Once the first round was completed, and the second round was under way, the feeling in the room was that it was just a matter of time before the Grizzlies either buy their way or trade their way into the second round. It did not take very long.
Sources: Jazz selecting Jarnell Stokes at 35 for the Memphis Grizzlies. This is a trade.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 27, 2014
Grizzlies will send the Jazz a 2016 2nd round pick for the draft rights to Jarnell Stokes.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 27, 2014
Applause and cheers rang-out all through the media room. The hometown kid, Jarnell Stokes, was going to be a Memphis Grizzly. A prospect who embodied Grit-N-Grind was well or better than any other prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft. A player who at one time was looked upon with borderline hatred by some Memphians for choosing to attend college at the University of Tennessee instead of his hometown University of Memphis. A player who once tweeted this:
Grizz game! Nose bleed now but one day...— Jarnell Stokes (@JarnellStokes) March 30, 2013
Right you are, Jarnell. You are now a beloved figure in the city of Memphis, and a man who is able to make his dreams of playing professionally on the court at the FedEx Forum, a reality.
Once the draft wrapped up, Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace stepped up to the podium to answer some questions from the media members who had been at the FedEx Forum for over five hours at this point.
Of course, everyone wanted to know why Jordan Adams at twenty-two and not one of the other players that seemed to be a better talent or fit for the Grizzlies. Wallace simply answered, "Jordan Adams was the highest rated guy on our board at the time." This is a very telling statement to me about who has the power when it comes to draft decisions. Jordan Adams boasted a 28.7 PER (Player Efficiency Rating) this past season at UCLA. This tells me John Hollinger's (VP of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies) PER and Draft Rater were the main tools used when putting together the Memphis Grizzlies' draft board. Chis Wallace talked about the Vice President of Basketball Operations say, "John Hollinger is a star in the making in this league." This should be music to Grizzlies' fans' ears since Hollinger is the only holdover from the Jason Levien regime.
Chris Wallace then went on to talk about Jordan Adams saying, "(He) does everything great but athleticism." He's correct in saying that; however, Adams has taken steps to improve his overall athletic ability. Last season at UCLA, the shooting guard played at roughly 230 pounds. When he weighed in at the combine in Chicago, he was 209. He lost nearly 10% of his body weight in attempts to improve his speed, leaping ability, and overall quickness. Personally, I love a guy who recognizes his weaknesses and is willing to work hard to improve upon them.
Jordan Adams was on conference call with a few members of the media, and I was able to get the audio from that conference call: Jordan Adams Conference Call
Once Jordan was finished, Jarnell Stokes was up next for his own conference call. Jarnell's is much lengthier, and it provides some great insight including him talking about when he and Jordan Adams were AAU teammates for the Atlanta Celtics: Jarnell Stokes Conference Call
Man, what a roller coaster ride (I know cliche, but fitting). All-in-all, I think, as a fans of the Grizzlies, we should be satisfied with how draft night turned out. Throw on top of that the ZBO extension today, and it has been a great 24 hours for the Memphis Grizzlies. I, for one, cannot wait for July 1st, when free agency begins, to see what other pieces to the puzzle will be added in order to make a run at a Western Conference crown.