If you’re like me, this is you’re favorite time of the year.
The NBA Finals have just wrapped up, legendary stories are being told about draft prospects working out for 12 teams in 11 cities over 13 days, and the Summer League and free agency are just around the corner.
It gets no better than this.
Even when the Memphis Grizzlies don’t have any draft picks, it won’t stop me from anxiously awaiting Thursday’s draft like I anxiously await the clock to hit 5 p.m. every Friday.
I recognize, however, that not everyone is like me, and it’s hard to get excited for something that you’re favorite team isn’t participating in - at least not going into it.
Well, I’m here to provide a complete primer for the Grizzlies draft day because there’s a chance they’ll make at least one selection that night, despite not having any picks going into it.
How the Grizzlies get into the draft?
The most likely scenario is a trade, but they also have the option to purchase picks. (Note: The vast majority of second round picks go for the max $3.5 million that can be offered. The Grizzlies only have $3.25 to spend after spending $250k acquiring Troy Daniels [tips cap to Peter Edmiston])
The Grizzlies have three second rounds picks in 2018 (Charlotte’s, Miami’s and their own) and three more in 2019 (Brooklyn’s, Boston’s which is top-55 protected and their own), giving them plenty of future picks they could unload to jump into this year’s draft.
The following teams have multiple second round picks: Philadelphia (4), Boston (3), Charlotte (2), Phoenix (2), Orlando (2), New York (2), New Orleans (2), Houston (2), Denver (2) and Utah (2).
The team that jumps out is Boston since the Grizzlies have made several deals with them in the past, and everybody knows if you dangle future assets in front of Danny Ainge, it’s like putting a Jameson neat in front of Jimmy McNulty - they can’t help themselves.
All of those teams aren’t going to keep multiple picks in the second round because eventually it becomes a numbers crunch with roster spots, but the new two-way G League contracts will likely make the price of second round picks higher than ever.
Could the Grizzlies get into the first round? Possibly, but it would cost them much more than the second, and I’m not sure the value is there.
I like this year’s second round a good bit.
This draft has been lauded for some time as being a good draft, and I subscribe to that - especially at the top.
Based on my scouting, I’ve come to this conclusion: after the first 10-12 picks, the talent pool in this draft dips through the teens and into the 20s, but it picks back up as being good in the second round - relative to normal draft standards.
In other words, I don’t think there’s much difference between guys who are projected to be picked in the late teens or early-20s and guys projected to be picked in the mid-30s.
Assuming the Grizzlies do get into the draft, who will they target?
First, allow me to throw out the caveat that I am fundamentally against drafting for need almost without exception, so keep that in mind as you go through this list.
I’ll give you 10 second round prospects that I like and a very brief scouting report on them.
- Jordan Bell (6’8” 225 lbs.) Power Forward, Oregon - Bell will have a very defined role in the NBA as a rim runner, post defender and shot blocker. He’s an exceptional athlete that passes both the analytics and eye test. (Projected draft range: 25-35)
- Derrick White (6’4” 190 lbs.) Guard, Colorado - White was a late bloomer, playing just one year of D-I basketball, so there’s believed to be untapped potential. He’s a very versatile scorer with good size for the guard position. (Projected draft range: 25-35)
- Jawun Evans (6’0” 185 lbs.) Point Guard, Oklahoma St. - Evans is a crafty point guard who can score and create for others, especially in the pick and roll. He should have a long career as a backup point guard. (Projected draft range: 25-35)
- Monte Morris (6’3” 175 lbs.) Point Guard, Iowa St. - Morris is the quintessential backup, floor general point guard. He’s not going to wow you with his size or athleticism, but he’s got the skill set to stick in the league. (Projected range: 35-55)
- Alec Peters (6’9” 225 lbs.) Power Forward, Valparaiso - The skill that will help Peters stick in the NBA is his jump shot. At 6’9”, he shot over 41 percent from three for his career, and with shooting always at a premium in the NBA, if he can be average at most other things, it’ll be hard to keep him off the floor. (Projected draft range: 25-45)
- Aleksandar Vezenkov (6’9” 225 lbs.) Forward, Barcelona - Like Peters, Vezenkov landing on this list because of his combination of size and shooting. He played for one of the best European clubs the last two seasons and shot just over 40 percent from three on 263 attempts. (Projected draft range: 40-Undrafted)
- Stering Brown (6’6” 230 lbs.) Shooting Guard, SMU - Brown is one of my favorite prospects on this list. He’s got excellent size and length (6’10” wingspan), and he projects as 3-and-D wing at the next level - a coveted player in today’s NBA. (Projected draft range: 40-50)
- Cam Oliver (6’8” 240 lbs.) Power Forward, Nevada - Oliver has a massive, chiseled frame and a wingspan over 7’1”. He’s a good athlete with an attractive, developing skill set that includes scoring inside and shooting over 38 percent from three last season. He’s an excellent candidate to stash in the G League for a year or be utilized on a two-way contract. (Projected draft range: 50-Undrafted)
- Sindarius Thornwell (6’5” 215 lbs.) Wing, South Carolina - Thornwell will make his money in the NBA on the defensive end of the floor, showing his ability to guard 1-3 and smaller fours in college thanks to his 6’10” wingspan. He’s not the best athlete, but he showed in college the ability to make plays off the bounce on offense. He’ll need to become a consistent three-point shooter if he wants to stick in the NBA. (Projected draft range: 50-Undrafted)
- Kyle Kuzma (6’9” 220 lbs.) Power Forward, Utah - Kuzma has all the makings of a modern NBA power forward. He’s light on his feet and comfortable playing all over the floor on both ends. He’s even shown the ability to step out and make threes, but he needs to become more consistent. He’s agile and light on his feet, helping him guard smaller players defensively. (Projected draft range: 25-50)
Honorable mention: Damyean Dotson, L.J. Peak, Edmond Sumner and Matthias Lessort
If the Grizzlies don’t get into the draft, which undrafted free agents should they go after?
That’s a good and important question because, remember, the Grizzlies now have an expansion G-League team, the Memphis Hustle. (An aside: Massive shoutout the the Grizz folks for that name. They consistently nail stuff like that.)
Here are five guys could go undrafted and be good long-term projects playing with the Hustle.
- Ben Moore (6’8” 205 lbs.) Forward, SMU - Moore is a multi-dimensional defender who can, at times, be a play maker offensively. He needs time to develop, but he’s got a really solid foundation and an NBA-level defensive skill set.
- Tyler Dorsey (6’4” 180 lbs.) Guard, Oregon - Dorsey is a killer scorer who could potentially carve out a bench role as instant offense off the bench. He’s going to struggle defensively, but he’s a bucket-getter who can get his shot off at any time.
- Davon Reed (6’5” 205 lbs.) Wing, Miami - First, it’s worth noting that Reed worked out for the Grizzlies, which is big because the Grizzlies had a difficult time getting players in for workouts without having a pick. Reed doesn’t have a ton of upside as a player, but he does have a very defined role: 3-and-D wing. He shot nearly 40 percent from three for his career, and his 7’0” wingspan allows him to be a long defender at the other end.
- Jeremy Morgan (6’5” 190 lbs.) Wing, Northern Iowa - Morgan is limited athletically but was an excellent defender in college. He’s got solid court awareness and vision and can shoot at an above average rate.
- George de Paula (6’6” 195 lbs.) Point Guard, Brazil - Here’s your holy-crap-this-guy-is-a-physical-freak-can-we-just-teach-him-to-be-a-good-basketball-player player that’s in every draft. He’s got elite size and length (over a 7’0” wingspan when last measured nearly two years ago) for the point guard position. He’s a ways away from being ready for the NBA but a perfect candidate to spend some time in the G League and see how he develops.
Regardless of what happens with the Grizz, enjoy draft night. I know I will. It’s one of the best days of the year. I’ll be tweeting way too much on draft night, so feel free to follow me @chipwilliamsjr.