The Memphis Grizzlies have nearly a 20% chance of acquiring the number one pick, and you can’t help but salivate at the idea.
Winning the number one pick lands you a prospect that hopeful follows the trail to stardom ablazed by former top picks LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and many more.
They could also join the new wave of stars that went first overall (Kyrie Irving, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis).
However, you also hope they don’t end up in infamy like Anthony Bennett, Greg Oden and Sam Bowie. Regardless, getting the first pick would put the Grizzlies on an easy fasttrack to bounce back next season and return to the playoffs.
You can’t help but imagine the Grizzlies battling in the playoffs with top rookies like DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic assisting Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.
If the Grizzlies do get the number one pick, do they go with Doncic or Ayton? Which one could position them for a bright future?
This draft order was the first scenario with the Grizzlies get the number one overall pick. Shoutout to tankathon.com for keeping all these blog boys busy over the course of a tankful season.
No. 1: Memphis Grizzlies - Luka Doncic
Maybe this pick is just me all on the Luka Doncic hype train, or he’s really that awesome. Probably a little bit of both. Yes, DeAndre has “all-time great” upside and could be a top-10 player in this league. However, with the way the league is going, you need perimeter talent as your best players to win.
If you don’t believe me, check the stats. No big man has won Finals MVP or regular season MVP since Dirk Nowitzki did in 2011 and 2007, respectively.
The Grizzlies’ best perimeter talent behind Mike Conley right now is Dillon Brooks. That formula won’t get you far in the playoffs. It may not even get you in the playoffs.
Depending on how you feel, you either have Doncic or Ayton as your number one -- a perfect “1A, 1B” scenario. The Grizzlies are trying to make the playoffs next season. Do they have a better chance with Doncic playing 30-35 minutes in the starting 5? Or, with Ayton playing 20-25 minutes either out of position or behind Marc Gasol?
Pick your poison. I’m going with Luka.
No. 2: Orlando Magic - DeAndre Ayton
The Magic are the main beneficiaries here, as they snag DeAndre Ayton and hope he follows dominant Orlando centers Shaq and Dwight Howard.
Offensively, Ayton could reach their level. He’s a 20-10 threat that does most of his damage in the low post. He certainly gives the Magic a legitimate cornerstone player. However, can he be successful with the Magic?
The Magic don’t have any knockdown shooters to surround him, as Evan Fournier is the only real perimeter threat. Having Isaac and Gordon — if they match his offer sheet this summer — in the frontcourt with him leaves Ayton with very little breathing room.
In addition, can he anchor the defense? There are concerns about his defensive abilities and his low motor. Was he just bored in college?
If he can anchor their defense, Orlando will have bright cornerstone piece, but they need to formulate a system where they have 3-and-D knockdown shooters around him.
No. 3: Atlanta Hawks - Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Hawks need talent across the board, and at the 3rd pick, they’ll be choosing between Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley. They need an anchor next to John Collins, and Jackson is a versatile defender that could actually play the 5.
Not to mention, he’ll give the Hawks that versatility they had when Al Horford and Paul Millsap were shredding teams on both ends of the court.
Jackson is an analytics darling, as most scouts salivate over his per-40 numbers and his “unicorn” traits. He may not be on the same level as the dominant unicorns — Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Giannis and Anthony Davis. He can easily be Myles Turner and/or Serge Ibaka, though.
No. 4: Phoenix Suns - Marvin Bagley
The Phoenix Suns have young big men as prospects in Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, but they’ve been extremely underwhelming. They could use Mo Bamba, as they definitely need rim protection. But they need a prospect that has no chance to be a terrible NBA player.
Insert Marvin Bagley.
Bagley is an athletic specimen, as his combination of leaping ability and physicality is extremely enticing. He’s an absolute beast on the glass, snatching rebounds like a madman. He can finish around the basket extremely well. His shooting might seem like a concern, but he also shot 39.7 percent from deep (23-58). His ability to create off the dribble scares scouts as well, but with Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, he won’t have to worry about that.
Yes, Bagley’s defense isn’t that good, and the Suns need defense. However, they can find a low-usage, high-efficiency rim protector in the free agency. Don’t be the team that picks Mo Bamba over Marvin Bagley.
No. 5: Dallas Mavericks - Mo Bamba
Speaking of Mo Bamba...
The Dallas Mavericks are in a tricky situation where the best talent available is a wise route, but they also have Dennis Smith and Harrison Barnes as cornerstones. They either need help on the wings or rim protection.
As he’s gotten older, Dirk is playing the 5 position more often, but you can’t count on him to protect the rim well at 41 years old. Given who’s on the board at this point, they should take Mo Bamba.
Bamba might have the most upside in the draft. He’s a freakishly-long center that could protect the rim and expand his range out to 3-point. Given his athleticism and coordination, he can be a nightmare switch for anyone on the perimeter.
The Mavericks could build a nice defensive trio of Smith, Barnes and Bamba, and it’s simply too enticing to pass up.
Rest of the Lottery
6: Chicago Bulls - Michael Porter Jr.
7: Sacramento Kings - Mikal Bridges
8: Cleveland Cavaliers - Trae Young
9: New York Knicks - Wendell Carter
10: Philadelphia 76ers: Miles Bridges
11: Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Knox
12: Los Angeles Clippers: Collin Sexton
13: Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams
14: Denver Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Stats found on sports-reference.com