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SOV Dialogues: The Draft

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Scott: The word on Tony Wroten is that he's a combo guard who is an excellent positional rebounder, gambles for steals, and can only score by driving to the rim...OH MY GOD! How is this kid not already a Grizzly? Sure, some people will argue that we need shooting and should draft someone like Marquis Teague to space the floor, but that's like saying a garage band with only a lead singer and a lead guitarist needs to find a bassist and drummer before auditioning another lead guitarist. To Hell with that, DragonForce says otherwise!

More importantly, Wroten gives us a chance at rewriting history. Wroten's been compared to Tyreke Evans, so selecting him with the 25th pick is basically the equivalent of getting a mulligan on the Thabeet pick. It's also a nice addition to overall Memphis redemption narrative. In other words, convince me that we shouldn't take Wroten.

Marcus: I'd rather have Quincy Miller. The way I see it, when draft time rolls around, it's pointless to draft to your strengths. You use the draft to instead, try to fill holes. It's the reason why you don't spend a first round pick to draft a high-end quarterback when Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady is number one on the depth chart.

Miller shoots 41% from beyond the arc and is working on quickening his release (currently, he dips really low before the shot). He works to fill our weaknesses, but this pick doesn't ignore our strengths either. He's shown some impressive ball-handling skills inside the paint and somehow manages to toss a hook over his shoulder from time-to-time to generate points down low.

Kevin: If you draft Tony Wroten, you run the risk of ending up like a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young tour: too damn many guitar players. Adding a wing that can only score by taking it to the rim would be like Elton John adding a keyboard player to his touring band: the need has already been addressed. Without stretching defenses outside of the painted area, the Grizzlies are never going to make a deep playoff run, because right now, if you clog the paint, you stop the Grizzlies, period.

I'm more of the mind that we need to draft a backup point guard -- Marquis Teague is my dream candidate. Somebody who can score the ball and distribute. We can use free agency to bring in a wing scorer/stopper or maybe pull off that long-rumoured Igoudala for Rudy Gay trade SOV has been salivating over for months, but we have to have a backup point guard. Josh Selby would be better playing at the 2-guard spot, I think.

Tony Wroten also sounds like he should be a Central Michigan quarterback from the mid-1980's. That's the kind of name "Tony Wroten" is. I don't know where he went to college -- I pretty much only follow the Memphis Tigers -- but I assume it's Purdue, or IUPUI, or something like that.

Scott: Actually he went to Washington.

Since you brought it up, who is the best prospect based on name alone?

Kevin: I think it's Arnett Moultrie, out of Mississippi State. To begin with, he's actually from Memphis (and played at Raleigh-Egypt High School here), but that only explains why he's got such a "Memphis" name. "Arnett Moultrie" sounds like he should be a badass session guitarist from the Stax Records days, or like he should've been Elvis's manager, or like he should've started some sort of barely-legitimate business venture in the 1930's. All three of those things could not be more "Memphis."

Scott: If we're being honest here, I think that's why I'm not as high on Marquis Teague as I should be. His name is way too NFL, and that gives me pause (to be fair, as you pointed out, so is Tony Wroten).

Marcus: Tyshawn Taylor is also an NFL name (maybe I'm thinking this because he sounds like Virginia Tech's old QB Tyrod Taylor), but something about it gets me. Alliteration using the letter T has an attitude. "Trash Talking." "Tina Turner." "Tony Tubbs." "Tom Tucker." The alliterative T says grit. It says "I may be unknown and small, don't mess with me." can ignore a guy like Tiny Tim.

Kevin: Given the Grizzlies' draft history, what's the worst-case scenario here? It's obviously not going to reach Hasheem Thabeet levels of insanity, but what if we were to trade Rudy Gay for the #2 pick and then draft, say, Tom Lorenzo? Is there a level at which the league would just stop allowing the Grizzlies to have draft picks anymore?

Scott: I'm actually going to defend the Grizzlies organization for once here. We're not all that bad at drafting, especially outside the lottery and in the 2nd round. Darrell Arthur, Sam Young, Josh Selby, Greivis Vasquez, Kyle Lowry, these guys were all good picks considering where they were drafted. Even in the lottery, we haven't been as bad as some teams. Keep in mind that at least half of our key players were either drafted by Memphis (Conley, Arthur), or their drafts rights were acquired before they played a minute of pro ball (Gay, Gasol, Mayo). This isn't a playoff team if the organization isn't at least competent at scouting draft prospects.

For me, the worst-case scenario is the one suggested by Chad Ford last week: Memphis drafts Evan Fornier and stashes him in Europe. Granted, this is Chad Ford, so we have to keep a couple of things in mind: he is terrible at analysis but excellent when it comes to following rumors. If he actually heard this from a source in the organization, that is very bad. It means that management doesn't seem to grasp some of the fundamental problems with this squad (i.e. the offense), and they merely think that bringing back the same team will bring about a different result in the postseason. We need role players, especially someone who can create some semblance of offense, and the draft is best means of acquiring cheap talent. I'm fine with drafting Fornier, but only if we bring him over immediately (for the record, DX says that he wants to come over right away).

Kevin: It's clear that some sort of change has to be made, regardless of whether Zach Randolph is ever going to be 100% again. It's not time to blow everything up and start over, but the Grizzlies are at a point where if they're going to get deeper into the playoffs, they're going to have to retool the current setup a bit. The Conley/Gasol/Randolph offense works -- it beat the Spurs pretty much singlehandedly in 2011. The problem is that the Clippers were able to take that away, especially because ZBo wasn't really ZBo this year, and when they took it away, Rudy and OJ shit the bed.

If the Grizzlies don't get someone who plays this year -- even if it's just somebody who scores five points a night as a rookie -- they're blowing it.

So much of this depends on Josh Selby's development, too. That guy can be a miracle with a real offseason under his belt. I feel like Selby is capable of doing really good things -- especially if the Grizz bring in someone like Teague, or trade Rudy to move up and get Kendall Marshall to play backup point and move Selby off the ball.

Marcus: In my opinion, if this new ownership deal goes through, the worst-case scenario would be the new owner (whoever it is) decides to go away from the Grizzlies philosophy of winning (grit, grind, points in paint) and throw the franchise into a rebuilding phase that pursues a Memphis team with a different playing style. The second the Grizzlies fall into the trap of "pursuing superstars" and, in the process, gives away the guys we've been investing in the past 3, 4 years, we're in trouble.

In the short-term, that means selling or trading away draft picks.

Scott: So, in terms of draft philosophy, would you want to stick with the front office's recent M.O. of taking low-risk, low-upside prospects who can contribute right away like Vasquez and Young, or should they take a flyer on a raw guy with potential?

Kevin: This year, I'd say low-risk guys that fill needs that everyone on Earth knows the Grizzlies have, holes that badly need to be plugged if the Grizz are going to make another deep run next year.

Towards the end of ZBo and Gasol's (and Conley's) contracts? Take a flyer. Worst case scenario is what, Big Country Reeves? At least I got an autographed, mint-in-box Starting Lineup figure of Big Country out of that deal. (True story. It's on the bookshelf in my office at home. Friend bought it for me, and said it was cheaper than the non-autographed ones of other players he bought his other groomsmen.)

Marcus: Yeah, I agree with you, Kevin. Go for the low-risk guys that fill the Grizzlies weaknesses. This is really why I'm such a fan of Quincy Miller to the Grizzlies: realistically, we could get him and, realistically, he could become a threat for the Grizzlies that really need a threat outside the paint.

Scott: My only concern is that it seems like he doesn't really have a position. I'm no stickler for rigid positionality, but drafting bigs with a guard's game is a classic Warriors' move, a team with an even more abysmal draft history than Memphis. Maybe I'm wrong about Miller, but I think we call agree that emulating Golden State is not a viable winning strategy.