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Memphis Grizzlies Draft Priorities

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If the tank is inevitable, what should we be looking for in this year’s draft?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you have seen the new DIRECTV ad campaign about people that “still love banging their head on a low ceiling, drinking spoiled milk,” etc.

Those commercials remind me of the Grizz fans that are anti-tank. That stance is simply irrational. But those people still exist.

For those of us who are all-in on the tank and rebuild, the horizon of young draft prospects is exciting. The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and Memphis fans have reason to believe Tyreke Evans will get traded for a draft pick (we are praying for a first rounder). Hopefully the trade will bear fruit of a 2018 pick that can hopefully speed up the rebuild process.

As it stands right now, the Grizzlies own their 1st round pick for the 2018 draft, that pick is the prized possession that will likely fall in the top 8-ish (and hopefully higher). The Grizzlies also have a 2nd round pick that will be awarded the most favorable between the 2nd round picks of Memphis, Charlotte, and Miami.

(There is also a 2nd round pick from Phoenix that is protected in the 31-55 selections. If it falls within this range, Phoenix will have no obligation to give this pick to Memphis. For those who are not familiar with the way the draft works, the worst teams pick the highest. Selections 56-60 will be the best teams from this season, of which Phoenix is very far from. In other words, the Grizzlies will not receive this pick.)

With the hope of having three draft picks in the upcoming draft, what type of players should the Grizzlies be going after?

Before we get nervous about the front office having power over this rebuild, keep in the mind the Grizz front office has made some notably good decisions in the past. Mike Conley was drafted by this team, Marc Gasol was brought over in a trade. More recently, Dillon Brooks was a nice draft selection, Ivan Rabb looks like he will be a solid contributor. Tyreke Evans was a steal by the front office, and even the G League has some nice pieces that could eventually move into NBA rosters.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, there are questionable decisions as well. I don’t have to list them, you know them already. But every team shoots and misses on a few decisions, you just have to live and move on with those.

The needs of this team are interesting. The players on expiring contracts as it stands today are: Brandan Wright, Tyreke Evans, James Ennis III, and Mario Chalmers. The only real trade asset is Evans, but it would be nice to send out two or three more of the names on this list to try and get something in return.

There’s really no way to predict who Memphis retains for next season of the players that have the expiring contracts. But looking at what pieces are expiring and which current roster players look to be trending upwards, the type of players this team should draft can be narrowed down to just a few options.

(Side note: for the 2019-20 season there are only five players signed through that year. They are: Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Marc Gasol (player option), Ivan Rabb, and Dillon Brooks.)

Memphis Grizzlies Contracts via Hoops Hype

PLAYER 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22
PLAYER 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22
Mike Conley $28,530,608 $30,521,115 $32,511,623 $34,502,130 $0
Chandler Parsons $23,112,004 $24,107,258 $25,102,512 $0 $0
Marc Gasol $22,642,350 $24,119,025 $25,595,700 $0 $0
JaMychal Green $8,533,333 $7,866,667 $0 $0 $0
Brandan Wright $5,955,760 $0 $0 $0 $0
Ben McLemore $5,200,000 $5,460,000 $0 $0 $0
Tyreke Evans $3,290,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
James Ennis $3,028,410 $0 $0 $0 $0
Mario Chalmers $2,106,407 $0 $0 $0 $0
Wade Baldwin $1,874,400 $0 $0 $0 $0
Jarell Martin $1,471,382 $2,416,221 $0 $0 $0
Deyonta Davis $1,312,611 $1,544,951 $0 $0 $0
Andrew Harrison $1,312,611 $1,544,951 $0 $0 $0
Wayne Selden $1,312,611 $1,544,951 $0 $0 $0
Ivan Rabb $950,000 $1,378,242 $1,618,520 $0 $0
Rade Zagorac $950,000 $1,378,242 $0 $0 $0
Dillon Brooks $815,615 $1,378,242 $1,618,520 $0 $0
Vince Hunter $75,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Kobi Simmons $75,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Myke Henry $0 $0 $0 $0
Total: $112,548,102 $103,259,865 $86,446,875 $34,502,130

Conley, Parsons, and Gasol (as of now) will all be back. Those three make a solid core three as starters when healthy, and JaMychal Green will also be in the rotation. The rest of the guys committed to returning are young guys on team-friendly deals. Deyonta Davis has been a surprise recently and will demand more attention next season. Wayne Selden also looks to be a key contributor. Dillon Brooks is going to do his thing.

Others in question include Jarell Martin, Andrew Harrison, Ivan Rabb, Kobi Simmons, Ben McLemore, and Myke Henry. Who knows which of these will make the rotation next season, but its safe to say a few of them will.

The front court is solid, with options to choose from. As Memphis fans, you should be used to that. But as history has continued to tell us, the backcourt outside of Mike Conley is eerily vacant. Selden could make the leap into a shooting guard this team can depend on. That still leaves the bench spots wide open.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

I like Kobi Simmons as the backup point guard, but he is raw and will need a lot of work to last a full season. Harrison is fine, and has looked decent of late, but we can’t be content with him as a backup guard moving forward.

Guards are the priority, simple as that.

I’m not going to try to predict which pick the Grizzlies will get, and even if I did, there’s a million different “mock drafts” that have a different order of prospects being picked. With that said, there are some really good guard options that can be taken in the top of the draft.

Keep in the mind, the Grizzlies will have at least one, and likely two more picks to work with past their top 1st rounder. What’s encouraging is that there are plenty of guard prospects that could fall to the early second round as well.

I won’t put it past the Memphis front office to draft and trade a top power forward player to get a nice guard for the future. I actually encourage that. Whatever it takes to get a guard prospect that can help this team in the next two to three years is the priority.

No matter what the future holds, there will always be those people that “still like pre-shaken sodas” and remain anti-tank. The reality is that no matter if we push for the tank or not, this Grizzlies team will lose a lot of games. The 2018 draft will be the most exciting thing about this season.

Contract information found at Hoops Hype. Draft information found at RealGM and Tankathon.com.

Follow @sbngrizzlies