After a season filled with injuries, trades, and numerous D-League and outcast players suiting up, the Memphis Grizzlies find themselves in an interesting, but potentially promising position in the Summer of 2016. With the departure of Dave Joerger to Sacramento and the Kings, the Grizzlies worked diligently to get a great coaching staff in place. With the addition of David Fizdale as Head Coach, along with Nick Van Axel, Keith Smart, and J.B. Bickerstaff as assistants, the Grizzlies can now turn their focus to the NBA Draft.
With Mike Conley's free agency decision looming, the Grizzlies have holes to fill. There is no viable backup to Conley under contract for 2016-17, and our only solutions at small forward are Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson (if we choose to resign him). Is JaMychal Green our stretch four of the future? Is Jarell Martin the answer after Zbo retires? How will Marc Gasol's foot hold up next season?
There are a lot of questions still to be answered. To get better insight on some of these queries, we caught up with Gary Parrish, the award-winning, college basketball columnist and studio analyst for CBS Sports and host of "The Gary Parrish Show" on 92.9 ESPN. Parrish runs an awesome blog at CBS and shares a plethora of knowledge on both college and NBA basketball. Parrish was nice enough to join us to answer a few questions about the Grizzlies and their plans for the 17th and 57th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft.
Q: The Memphis Grizzlies have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. What is the best way that they should use the draft to address some of those openings?
GP: Playoff teams picking outside of the lottery don't usually fill immediate needs through the draft. So, honestly, I wouldn't even think that way if I were the Grizzlies. I'd simply take the best prospect available. If that prospect happens to fill a need, great. But I wouldn't plan on finding someone who will help a lot next season with the 17th pick of a weak draft.
Q: Right now you have Wade Baldwin IV, SG, Vanderbilt selected at 17 in your current mock draft on cbssports.com. What can you say about his talent level, skill set, and how he can help the Grizzlies?
GP: He measured well at the combine and checks a bunch of boxes. Good size for a point guard. Can play either guard position. Crazy wingspan. Shoots it well from the perimeter. Some question his leadership. But he won't need to be a leader as a rookie on an NBA team. So I like him. If the Grizz end up with him, I won't be surprised or disappointed.
Q: If Baldwin isn't available, should the Grizzlies draft best available or draft for need still, depending on their board?
GP: I'm almost always a proponent of taking the best prospect available. So, again, if I were the Grizz I'd simply select the player I believe will have the best professional basketball career. If he's a center, he's a center. If he's a wing, he's a wing. I'd just take the best guy on the board.
Q: Who is a player that you could see falling out of the lottery that may be an option for Memphis at #17?
GP: Denzel Valentine is a big name who could slip. I keep hearing the former Michigan State star might be available at 17 (despite what most mock drafts suggest). And, if he is available at 17, then the Grizzlies will have an interesting decision to make. Because I really do believe Valentine is the type of rookie who could be a rotation player for a playoff team. So keep an eye on that. Valentine might fall on draft night farther that most anticipate.
Q: Do you see the Grizzlies staying at #57 overall in the 2nd round, or will they trade up? Who might they be targeting?
GP: Oh, who knows? But if somebody they like slips into the second round, absolutely, I could see them moving up. They've made draft-night deals before. I won't be shocked if they do it again.
Q: Of the Grizzlies' current free agents, which guys do you most expect to return to Memphis? (Please say Mike Conley).
GP: Mike Conley is the obvious answer. And, yes, I do genuinely believe he'll resign with the Grizzlies. The Spurs will pursue him. And he'll consider a move to San Antonio, I'm told. But, ultimately, to leave Memphis would be to leave to many millions of dollars on the table. And considering this is likely Mike's last huge contract, the expectation is that he'll make it be as huge as possible, and that means resigning with the Grizzlies.
Thanks again to Gary Parrish for his insights, and be on the lookout throughout the Summer as GBB looks to speak with the brightest Grizzly minds through our Grizzly Bear Banter articles and our flagship BlogTalkRadio podcast GBBLive, which will return in June.