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Memphis Grizzlies 2018 NBA Draft Prospects by Fit: The Elite

How do the “Top 3” Prospects fit on the current Grizzlies roster?

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Miss Part I? Check it out here.

We are just 5 days away from the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery where the Grizzlies will find out which pick in the top 5 they will be selecting in the NBA Draft on June 21st. If you haven’t heard, GBB’s site manager Joe Mullinax will be making a special trip to Memphis for our Draft Party, which you can read more about here. Ever since the season ended, the talk around Memphis has been about who the Grizzlies should draft, how important this draft is, and whether or not the Grizzlies should trade the pick for more established talent.

Most draft experts have a clear cut top 2 in the draft with Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic, while others throw in Marvin Bagley III in there to create a top 3. The Grizzlies have a 55.8% chance of landing a top 3 pick next week in the draft lottery, and any of those 3 prospects would be great pickups for the Grizzlies for the short and long-term potential of the franchise. After the top 3, things get a little murkier in the prospects pool. The remaining prospects that will be available if the Grizzlies are selecting at 4th or 5th likely have some major question marks (health, overhyped, “a project”, etc.). This feature highlights those elite prospects.

I’m a firm believer that you take the best player available if you’re in the Grizzlies position and figure out the rest later. The team will hopefully agree with me and only draft a player on their “fit” with the team depending on how high up the player is on their board. For this exercise I’m going to preview how I think each top prospect fits on this current Grizzlies roster and their potential role under J.B. Bickerstaff.

Players are listed alphabetically. This is not necessarily how I think the Grizzlies should use each player, but more so what I expect J.B. Bickerstaff, Chris Wallace, and the Grizzlies Front Office to do. I am not including any potential free agent deals, as free agency decisions will likely be dependent on what happens June 21st.

DeAndre Ayton

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

PG- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, Kobi Simmons

SG- Wayne Selden, MarShon Brooks, Ben McLemore

SF- Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Myke Henry

PF- JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin, Ivan Rabb

C- Marc Gasol, DeAndre Ayton, Deyonta Davis

DeAndre Ayton, considered the best prospect in the draft, is arguably the worst fit for a Grizzlies team not in full rebuild mode just yet. Ayton will be slotted behind Marc Gasol all season and will have to compete with Deyonta Davis for the backup center role. Davis has been a slight disappointment after falling to the Grizzlies in the 2016 draft. I’d expect Ayton to beat out Davis in the rotation based solely on the fact he would be a top 2 pick for the Grizzlies.

However, the team has slowly been embracing the small-ball style the NBA is moving towards, leaving less minutes for a defensively challenged center. Ayton should be able to dominate offensively against other bigs off the bench in the NBA, but he would be stuck behind Marc Gasol for at least a couple of years barring any big trade. Ayton could end up being a great player in the NBA, but the Grizzlies wouldn’t reap the benefits until Ayton was already midway through his rookie deal.

Marvin Bagley III

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Syracuse vs Duke Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

PG- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, Kobi Simmons

SG- Wayne Selden, MarShon Brooks, Ben McLemore

SF- Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Myke Henry

PF- JaMychal Green, Marvin Bagley III, Jarell Martin

C- Marc Gasol, Deyonta Davis

Marvin Bagley fits quite well into the Grizzlies lineup. He would likely start the 2018 season off the bench, but JaMychal Green isn’t the roadblock that Marc Gasol is in the Grizzlies lineup. Green is better defensively than Bagley, but Bagley should be able to replicate JaM’s intensity and be more of a threat on the offensive end. Depending on Bagley’s growth, he could, and arguably should, supplant Green in the starting lineup. The 2018 season is also the last year in Green’s contract so they could decide to part ways with Green depending on his financial demands in free agency. Bagley could be the first big off the bench, able to play both PF and C, in his first season and then replace Green in the starting lineup later in the season or at the beginning of the 2019 season.

Luka Doncic

Basketball: Luka Doncic Sipa USA-USA TODAY NETWORK

PG- Mike Conley, Andrew Harrison, Kobi Simmons

SG- Luka Doncic, MarShon Brooks, Ben McLemore

SF- Dillon Brooks, Wayne Selden, Myke Henry

PF- JaMychal Green, Chandler Parsons, Jarell Martin

C- Marc Gasol, Deyonta Davis, Ivan Rabb

Personally, I think part Grizzlies fans recent obsession with Luka Doncic is the fact that he slides in perfectly with the Grizzlies current roster. He can start from the opening tip as the Grizzlies can get creative with their lineups as most of the wings can play both the SG and SF position. Doncic can also take pressure off of Mike Conley’s ball handling duties and allow Mike to play off the ball where he excelled 2 seasons ago.

Doncic also allows the Grizzlies to play Chandler Parsons as a stretch-four, which should be his preferred role going into next season. If Doncic struggles through camp, the Grizzlies could start Wayne Selden Jr. at shooting guard and bring Doncic and M. Brooks off the bench as an outstanding scoring duo. Drafting Doncic gives the Grizzlies the most options with their lineups while also allowing the young bigs one more year to prove themselves as a part of the Grizzlies future.


The Grizzlies will have about a month's worth of time after the lottery to figure out who they want in the 2018 draft. The Grizzlies (seemingly) can’t miss with any of the top 3 prospects, so the front office may factor in a player’s “fit” when making a decision depending on the selection. If that’s the case, I’d expect the Grizzlies to take Luka Doncic if he’s available when they pick. If the Grizzlies are forced to choose between Ayton (better prospect, not a great fit) or Marvin Bagley (lesser prospect, better fit) things could get interesting on Beale Street.

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