Matt: I want to come out of this draft with one of the following players: Baldwin, Hernangomez, Valentine, or Luwawu. They are the ones that combine skill set and potential in my view. Baldwin fits the role that will be hardest to fill in free agency. Valentine and Hernangomez both have valuable skill sets and I see enough upside in Hernangomez to rate him above Valentine if you agreed.
Number one on my board is Luwawu. I would take him above all the other guys. I think he has the most paths to carve out a role on the Grizzlies. What do you think of that?
Andrew: Prince and Sabonis are lower on my list because of reasons you've mentioned. I'm not sure Prince will ever be able to put the ball on the floor with ease aside from attacking a closeout by an overaggressive defender, and I don't trust his off-ball movement enough to trust that he could flow offensively with Conley and Gasol orchestrating the attack.
As for Sabonis, he does a lot of things that I look for in a useful, modern big man; but not much that the Grizzlies absolutely need. I have concerns about his length, and he does not project as a plus rim protector. His best positional fit given his current skill set would be in a pinch post role where he's heavily involved in pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops. The Grizzlies already have an abundance of guys who thrive in that role.
The players at the top of my list are as follows: Luwawu, Baldwin, Korkmaz, and Hernangomez. So Luwawu is number one on both of our boards. He's recently broken out in European competition, and if his development continues on that lofty trajectory, he's going to be a hell of a player. Going back to my five major skill categories, he could be a plus at creating for himself, creating for others, catch and shoot, and defending a position. It's hard to pass on a player who could be above-average in so many different areas, and I think his versatility will make it easier to get him on the floor sooner rather than later which is a necessity given the timetables of Conley and Gasol.
If Luwawu is there, I don't think we can pass on him. He's a prototypical wing in skill and size, and the areas of his game that need improvement i.e. ball handling and his grasp of schemes and the flow of the game are very manageable. With a head coach in David Fizdale who spent a long time under Erik Spoelstra, I think we have just the guy to introduce Luwawu to complicated schemes while not feeding him too much information at the same time. It could be a big adjustment for Luwawu at the beginning, but he's already played far from home before which puts my mind more at ease.
So have we arrived at a decision? I think we have.
Matt: You took the words right out of my mouth. I was tracking him leading up to last year's draft, and was kind of crestfallen when he dropped out. I don't think there is anything a wing can do that is completely off the table for him. He may never be big enough to guard 3's, but that's okay! With his foot speed, we might be better off shifting him down to guard 1's the way Kent Bazemore did for Atlanta this year.
I think the Grizzlies will probably have to trade up to get Luwawu, and I like him so much, I'd be okay with that, particularly if we could keep 17 and get another of this top group. So here's a bonus question: while you were busy Vining your ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE video, I called the Chicago Bulls, magically found out not only would Luwawu definitely be there at 14, but we worked out the following trade:
Brandan Wright, number 57 in this year's draft, and the LAC 1st.
This was an overpay, but I wanted to paint us into a fake hypothetical corner. We now have Luwawu, but we only have one "real" center on the roster, and he's coming off a broken foot. We also gave up the LAC 1st so we have no major trade chips as a backstop in case we strike out in free agency.
Assume something crazy happened, and ALL the guys in tiers 1 & 2 are still there at 17. Who do you take? Do you fill the gap at center? Do you go BPA? Do you opt to bring in the hardest skill set to find in free agency, or the skill set we need the most?
Who do you pick and what's your reasoning? (I'll give my answer after you).
Andrew: No matter who we draft, I will tell fans that we took the "best player available" on our draft board because that's what they will want to hear because it sounds smart (and it honestly is), but I'm not really looking to select another wing since we just selected Luwawu and there are other holes to fill. So I probably try to fill in gaps at positions of need like point guard or center with either Wade Baldwin or Henry Ellenson. I'd be willing to discuss Sabonis at 17 given that we just got rid of Brandan Wright, because I now see a clearer path to playing time for him in a spread pick-and-roll capacity.
My choice is to roll the dice and assume that we can grab a big man in free agency and that Gasol will be fine coming off of foot surgery. That means I'm taking Wade Baldwin as a cheap backup to Mike Conley. He can play on or off the ball, he fills a position of need, and he does a combination of things well i.e. passing, shooting, defending that are hard to find in one player. Plus, I can't stop thinking about the potential of our perimeter defense with Baldwin and Luwawu hounding guys on the catch. That could take a lot of the pressure off of Gasol in terms of manning the back line, which is a huge plus since we don't know how well he's going to be able to move.
What about you? Do you think we should go in a different direction?
Matt: As much as I would love to take Hernangomez here, I think I have to fill a need. We can't go into the offseason with no point guards (sorry Xavier Munford) and only one center under contract.
Fortunately, Baldwin is so close behind Hernangomez for me there is still a credible argument that we "have" gone BPA.
The main reason why I would like swapping Wright for Luwawu is this: having 4 years of a cost-controlled wing who we have confidence in is.... well, when Kent Bazemore signs for over 50mm in about a month, we'll look at Luwawu and be pretty happy.
Same thing with Baldwin. We don't need him to be a starter, but he has paths to minutes as Conley's backup and playing next to Conley. The free agent options for point guards are so sparse (and, like, every team needs a backup) that getting one in the draft saves you from finding yourself with Shane Larkin playing in the 4th quarter of a playoff series.
So now we can cast a wide net for a backup center (even someone like Joakim Noah I wouldn't hate), and even if you strike out completely, you can cobble together backup center minutes amongst JaM, Jarell and ZBo.
The key for the summer is not to find value; it is to fill out your roster with no bad contracts. Grabbing 2 players in the draft instead of one has so much value in terms of achieving that goal, that even if they don't pan out, you have 20 year old bodies for 4 years at 2mm instead of 30 year old bodies at 16mm.
The rest is just supply and demand. We have bigs. There are more bigs available in free agency. Therefore I'd prioritize wings in the draft over bigs.