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Memphis Grizzlies 2015 Draft Recap

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The Memphis Grizzlies came away with Jarell Martin and Andrew Harrison on draft night.

Jarell Martin was selected on Thursday by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 25th overall pick.
Jarell Martin was selected on Thursday by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 25th overall pick.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies entered 2015 NBA with just one pick but seemingly limitless options.

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prognosticate what might be available where the Grizzlies were selecting - pick number 25.

It's what makes the draft great: uncertainty, unpredictability.

Do me a favor, raise your hand if you had Terry Rozier going 16, or, heck, even in the top 20. Or if you had Justise Winslow being available at 10. Or id you had the Chicago Bulls at 22 having having their choice of Bobby Portis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Tyus Jones.Or if you had Larry Nance Jr. going in first round. Or if you had Cliff Alexander, a consensus top-10 pick in the preseason, going undrafted.

My guess is that most if not all of you didn't see any of those scenarios playing out before the draft started.

But that's why when you're in a position like the Grizzlies were in on Thursday night, you really have to do your homework because you just don't know what's going to happen.

I'm confident the Grizzlies probably thought that of this group - Rashad Vaughn, Delon Wright and Justin Anderson - at least one would be available at 25. None were.

It looked like Duke point guard Tyus Jones might fall right into the Grizzlies laps at 25, but he was selected with the pick immediately before at #25.

So who was available at 25? Well, there was R.J. Hunter, Montrezl Harrell and Kevon Looney. But none of them heard their names called at 25.

The name that was called was one that had become familiar to Grizzlies fans who pay attention to the draft: Jarell Martin.

Jarell Martin (6'9" 239 lbs.) SF/PF, LSU

So who is Jarell Martin, and why did the Grizzlies draft him?

"We think he brings some rare skills for a power forward," said Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace. "He can handle the ball very skillfully for a player (of his size). He can get in the lane and make plays through traffic. He just has a scoring instinct, rebounds the ball well, very athletic. We just think he has a tremendous amount of potential."

"He's better at the power forward position," Wallace went on to say. "He might spend a little time at small forward here and there over the course of his NBA career. But his bread-and-butter is the power forward position. It's taking defenders, at that spot who aren't used to guarding out on the perimeter, off the dribble and going inside where he can score with either hand, score through contact, get to the free throw line."

"He's also someone who runs the court consistently hard and has tremendous speed for his size and position," said Wallace. "And when he gets the ball on the break, he can convert that opportunity. He just has a vast array of talent that we're very excited to get in somebody that's 6-foot-9 and playing the power forward position."

Even though the Grizzlies only owned one pick, many felt very strongly that the team would try and acquire a second-round pick, and the Grizzlies did just that.

It was announced around pick number 42 by Chris Vernon that the Memphis Grizzlies had traded forward Jon Leuer to the Phoenix Suns for the rights to pick number 44, and with the pick, the Grizzlies would select Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison.

Andrew Harrison (6'6" 213 lbs.) PG, Kentucky

So just who is Andrew Harrison, and why did the Grizzlies draft him?

"Later in the draft, Andrew Harrison is someone we had our eyes on," said Wallace. "We had him ranked significantly ahead of the 44th pick. He's a player with tremendous size in the back-court. He can swing over from point guard to off-guard. He's a good defender, gets in the lane."

"If you watched Kentucky, he was in the lane constantly in their big games, making plays," Wallace went on to say. "He's someone with a tremendous amount of basketball experience. He's poised in big-game situations. He was a top-10 high school player along with his brother. He's got, obviously, tremendous experience playing with the loaded Kentucky teams. He knows pressure situations."

"We were very excited to have him there and put him on the roster," said Wallace. "We think it was a great night for us - to pick these two up."

Personally, I'm not overly enthused about either pick, but I don't hate them.

This draft was strange in some ways. Once Tyus Jones was picked at 24, there wasn't a guy you would consider a "slipper or dropper" available at 25. Usually, in virtually any draft, there's someone available at your pick that you didn't expect to be there. If before the draft you had told me the names that would end up being available at 25, I would have told you that there is not someone who is definitively or significantly better than Jarell Martin. Where the Grizzlies were selecting the talent in the draft dropped off just a bit. So if someone like a Tyus Jones or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Bobby Portis or Justin Anderson or literally any of the eight players who went immediately before the Grizzlies picked had been there, I would have told you that you had to take that player over Martin. But none of them were there.

The only player that I could have legitimately argued should have been the pick over Martin was Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter. But, in all honesty, I like Hunter marginally, at best, better than Martin. And at this point in the draft, it's all about personal preference. And the Grizzlies went with their guy. On top of that, you already have a developmental shooting guard, and while I'm a huge proponent of best player available regardless of position, I'm not sure there's enough of a gap (if any at all) between R.J. Hunter and Jarell Martin to reasonably argue that Hunter definitely should have been the pick.

There might be others some try to say should have been the pick over Martin, but there wasn't a player left on the board that without question should have been the pick over Martin. Again, it all comes down to personal preference.

The Andrew Harrison pick is another that I'm not totally in love with, but I don't totally dislike either. There were guys at 44 that I had ranked higher than Harrison, but all of them except Arturas Gudaitis, Dakari Johnson and Daniel Diez went undrafted (the second round is weird, man).

Scouting wise, Chris Wallace did a good job explaining who Jarell Martin and Andrew Harrison are in a nutshell. I would, however, like to add a few things about each player.

First, Jarell Martin:

Martin moves exceptionally well for someone that is nearly 240 pounds. He is an above-the-time type of player, and he excels when getting out in transition. One element of Martin's athleticism that jumps off the tape is his quick leaping ability. He does not need a ton of room to gather in order to explode off the floor. He's what you would call a quick-leaper.

Martin is terrific when facing the basket in the half-court offense. He's too quick for many power forwards and too big and strong for most small forwards. He loves taking defenders off the dribble - which he does exceptionally well for someone his size. He's a terrific finisher around the rim and good at drawing contact to get to the foul line.

His jump-shot and post skills are going to need work. He's a capable outside shooter,  but he's a far cry from consistency right now. Wallace referred to Martin as a power forward so he will have to refine his post game.

Despite the good rebounding numbers, Martin is not known as a great rebounder. He gives up too many offensive rebounds which is something he's going to have to improve upon if he's going to be defending NBA power forwards. He has a small wingspan (even smaller than Jordan Adams' wingspan) so he'll have to rely on proper technique and hustle to improve on his defensive rebounding. And speaking of defense, yes, like virtually all rookies, Martin is going to have to improve on defense - significantly.

As for Andrew Harrison, one thing that Grizzlies fans will love that Wallace didn't mention was Harrison's 38.3 three-point percentage last season.

Harrison has elite size for the point guard position (6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan). He's able to use this size to bully his way into the lane, or really anywhere he wants to go on the floor.

He's not a great athlete, but he does well operating at different speeds, especially in pick-and-roll situations. He's a terrific ball-handler with a knack for finding open teammates.

Defensively, Harrison projects to be a really good at the next level. His size and length allow him to guard either guard spot, and even some small forwards, a similar flexibility that Nick Calathes provided.

The biggest hole in Harrison's game is his ability to score. He was inefficient scoring the ball during his time at Kentucky, and struggles with creating open looks due to his lack of explosiveness.

Quick note: Last season, both of the Grizzlies picks had the feel of a heavy John Hollinger influence. This year, however, it's just the opposite. Jarell Martin feels like a Chris Wallace/Ed Stefanski guy while Andrew Harrison is all Wallace.

How the Grizzlies front office operates gets tougher and tougher to figure out.