Over the Memphis Grizzlies’ franchise history, the third pick has been solid for them. They’ve technically owned it once, and it was in Vancouver when they selected Shareef Abdur-Rahim — the face of the team in its Canadian tenure. They’ve traded for the third selection twice, snagging Pau Gasol (the first face of the Memphis Grizzlies) and OJ Mayo (awesome early in his career).
If the Grizzlies got the third pick, could they experience success there yet again?
With the way this draft class looks, it’s certainly possible. DeAndre Ayton is a lock in the top-two, and — depending on your opinion of him — you feel the same about Luka Doncic. That leaves guys like Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr., Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young left on the board.
Who would the Grizzlies draft if they fell to the third selection?
Let’s take a quick look. Shoutout to tankathon.com for the draft order and for getting pro-tank fans like me through the season.
No. 1: Mavs - DeAndre Ayton
The Mavs would luck out here, as either Ayton or Doncic would be a golden fit next to this current roster. Doncic gives them more size in a small backcourt and is a nice secondary playmaker next to Dennis Smith Jr. In addition, Ayton is the perfect big man next to Harrison Barnes and Smith. On top of that, he can learn from DIRK.
He was a dominant low-post scorer in the college, showing way more skill down low than any prospect in the past several seasons. He’s also a dawg on the glass. Ayton lacks strong defensive awareness, which is a red flag for more many scouts.
However, maybe it was more of a “college is boring, get me to the NBA already” kind of thing.
Ayton would give the Mavericks the dominant center they’ve been chasing since 2013 (see: Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan). They can’t pass that up.
No. 2: Magic - Luka Doncic
Given how disappointing Mario Hezonja was in his Orlando tenure (side-note: he was actually a good basketball player this past season), do they want to run the risk with Luka Doncic?
Yes, they do.
Doncic is a far more polished player than Hezonja was coming into the draft. He’s overall a better playmaker and scorer. While Hezonja is more athletic, Doncic makes up for it with poise and composure when the ball is in his hands.
With Doncic, they’d finally have an unselfish player to build around, as they lack a strong playmaker (evidence). He could come in on day one and handle “point guard” duties.
If he can live up to the hype, he’d give the Magic something to be excited about for the first time since the 2009 Finals.
No. 3: Grizzlies - Marvin Bagley III
The Memphis Grizzlies need the most NBA-ready prospect on the board, as this team could bounce back and find themselves in the playoffs next season. While they have an abundance of big men, Marvin Bagley is the best player on the board here.
He immediately stepped in and became the best player on one of the most elite teams in the country. As a freshman, he was a 20-10 big man and became a first team All-American.
On the Grizzlies, he can become a day-one starter — even with the development of JaMychal Green and Jarell Martin. He’s an absolute beast in the low block, corralling most of his points in the low post or off the glass. Whether or not he can space the floor as a 4 remains to be seen, but he did shoot 39.7 percent (23-58) from deep last season.
In addition, he can still do most of his damage down low, as Marc Gasol is one of the best floor-spacing 5’s in the league.
His defense may be suspect, but the immediate offensive impact he can make is too promising for the Grizzlies to ignore here.
No. 4: Suns - Trae Young
Let’s be real, the Suns won’t make this pick. However, it’s too enticing to ignore. What am I talking about exactly? That’s right, the Suns should look to create a “Splash Brothers” dynamic with Trae Young and Devin Booker.
If they fall outside the top 3, it might be the best route for them. With the right coach, it could actually finally get the Suns out of the basement of the league.
Two years ago, they’ve selected big men Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, and though they’ve been disappointing, maybe they’d be better with a legitimate point guard. Josh Jackson and Devin Booker have proven themselves to be solid but inefficient scorers.
While he’s more heralded for his shooting, Trae Young may rank among the most elite playmaking prospects of the past year. Though they need defensive help, Young could help transform their offense and make them a “League Pass” team next season.
No. 5: Hawks - Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Hawks found two promising pieces over the past two drafts with Taurean Prince and John Collins. With a high lottery pick on the way, the Hawks could find a cornerstone these two players can support.
With Jaren Jackson Jr., they’d have a high-upside prospect that could evolve into a two-way terror. He might be one of the most tantalizing prospects aside from Ayton and Doncic.
As a 6’11” forward with a 7’4” wingspan, Jackson can cover all five positions on the court. His stat-line is solid, as he shot 39.6 percent from deep and averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks. When you consider he only averaged 21.8 minutes a game, Jackson’s production pops off the page.
At best, he joins the new wave of unicorns. Even at his worst, he can either become a mid-level starting power forward or a solid energy player off the bench.
Rest of the lottery
6: Bulls - Mo Bamba
7: Kings - Michael Porter Jr.
8: Cavs - Mikal Bridges
9: Knicks - Miles Bridges
10: Sixers - Wendell Carter
11: Hornets - Kevin Knox
12: Clippers - Collin Sexton
13: Clippers - Robert Williams
14: Nuggets - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Stats found on sports-reference.com