The day we have all been waiting for is upon us.
Soon, we will know where the Memphis Grizzlies will be picking in the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21st. First, of course, comes this evening’s NBA Draft Lottery festivities, being held this year in Chicago. The worst of the NBA record-wise this past season (and smart/lucky trade teams like the Cavaliers and 76ers) has descended upon the Windy City hoping to have their luck changed by the bouncing ping pong balls of the lottery. Memphis has a 19.9% chance at selecting #1 overall in June’s draft, and a 55.8% shot at a top three pick.
It feels like a perfect time to roundtable. Joining me are GBB Associate Editor Jack Noonan, GBB Senior Writers Parker Fleming, McCarty Maxwell, and Brandon Abraham, and GBB Writer Greg Ratliff.
What pick, if any, will Memphis have to get for this past season to have been worth “the tank”?
GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax)- In theory, anything in the top three works. Marvin Bagley III, Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr...simple math says one of those four would be there at numbers 1-3, and that would let me feel a lot better about this whole lottery process. It feels harder to mess the pick up in those spots, and with this front office, I would take it...even if it meant sliding down one spot from their projected pick of #2.
GBB Associate Editor Jack Noonan (@jnoonan1307)- I would say the Grizzlies have to get pick one or two for the tank to really be worth it. Even as this draft is deeper than most the top two picks, Ayton and Doncic, “should” be solid picks if things go well. Outside of those, the talent is still there but harder to predict. Any kind of indecision is not what you want after a tanking season.
GBB Senior Writer Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham)- A guaranteed top 5 pick is a great tanking season, but if the Grizzlies land a top 3 pick (55.8% chance) the tank will have been worth it. Assuming Chris Wallace doesn’t screw it up, which is a shady assumption, the Grizzlies will end up with Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley or Luka Doncic with a top 3 pick. Either of those 3 make the tank worth it.
GBB Senior Writer Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA)- Getting a guaranteed top-five pick made the tank worth it in my eyes. You have about a 55% chance of landing in the top-3, which essentially gets you Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley or Luka Doncic. Even if you fall to 4 or 5 though, you can still land a potential franchise talent such as Jaren Jackson Jr., Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young or Mo Bamba (sorry if you have Thabeet flashbacks).
GBB Senior Writer McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell)- A top 5 pick makes it worth the tank, though I do think it would be fitting that the odds don’t fall into place. The thing is, the tank was inevitable. This team was/(is?) terrible and had no chance to play for anything but a top pick in this year’s draft. Sure, the top 5 pick makes it “worth it”, but this team wasn’t capable of winning games anyway.
GBB Writer Greg Ratliff (@GregRatliff)- Top 3. I really believe that the 3 guys (Bagley, Ayten, Doncic) that most analysts have at the top of the draft, that those guys are the ones that will have an impact from day 1. Any of these players end up on your team, it’s definitely worth it.
What pick, if any, will Memphis have to get for this past season’s tank to be a failure?
Mullinax- You could argue #4, and I will feel pretty nervous if that is the case. If the Grizzlies fall to #5, though, it will be a total disaster. It depends on how you feel about the second tier of talent, but historically there is more room for failure the further down the draft you go. At #4 or #5 you are dealing with more realistic trade possibilities (gets nauseous), and at #5 in particular you are more likely to swing and miss on an elite talent coming off an injury like Michael Porter Jr. (gets more sick) or a raw but talented player that has a high ceiling, but also high bust potential like Mohamed Bamba (dry heaves). A top 5 pick should help regardless, but there’s more potential failure at #5 than say, #3.
Noonan- Grizzlies would have to fall to pick four or five for it to be called a failed tank. However, this only matters for the public perception of the Lottery. It will be hard to call the tank a failure without having a player to judge it by.
Abraham- If the Grizzlies pick 4th or 5th it’d be disheartening, and many Grizzlies fans would be worried about the front office’s decision. Simply put, I don’t think most trust this front office to draft from the second tier of prospects, as we’re all too familiar with drafting a bust.
Fleming- Getting the 5th pick scares me. Most of the prospects with bust-tential fall in the 5-8 range. However, what scares me the most is the idea of trading the pick, which seems likely at 5.
Maxwell- See question one’s answer. It was fun to call it a tank because it made it seem like this past season was somewhat deliberate, but in reality this team was just bad.
Ratliff- 5th pick. You could make an argument for a few of the guys in the 4-8 range that they’ll be meaningful out of the gate, but I’m not as high on them as others. Outside of top 3 is really a massive disappointment in my eyes.
Is there any number of pick where you would consider trading the rights to it?
Mullinax- As stated above, #4-#5 feel a lot more likely than #’s 1-3. I think for the right package Memphis will consider all options, but these draft picks are so valuable now that it would have to be a massive offer to move off this pick. If you hit a home run and take the next David Robinson (Ayton), Chris Bosh (Bagley), or arguably the greatest European prospect ever that becomes James Harden-like (Doncic), and get to essentially guarantee them to be on your team for almost a decade thanks to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement? You need to make sure you’re winning that trade.
Noonan- I would not necessarily say I would trade a certain pick, but if there is a player higher on their big boards than most then I would consider trading to collect assets. Similar to Boston last draft, if the Grizzlies thought Marvin Bagley was the best player in the draft and had the first overall pick, they should consider trading down to three if it means another first rounder next season.
Abraham- I would prefer to keep the pick, but if the Grizzlies get 4th or 5th I wouldn’t be opposed to a trade. A Top 3 pick should be considered untradeable unless the Grizzlies get a kings ransom for it. To me, the package in return would determine how comfortable I’d be in trading the pick.
Fleming- There isn’t a particular pick I’d consider trading the rights to it, but there are two scenarios.
A) Memphis gets 1st and Boston gets 3rd via the Lakers’ pick. They swap spots, and Boston gives the Grizzlies’ their 2019 pick back (note: that pick is such a looming dark cloud over the team’s future, get it back).
B) The Grizzlies fall to 5th, and they have a real possibility of getting Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, or Jamal Murray.
Maxwell- I would be open to trading anything. Top 5 picks may bring in a proven player that is worth trading for, and likely will be packaged with some of the younger players that Memphis can afford to get rid of.
Ratliff- 4 or 5. Especially if Cleveland ends up ahead of you. Cleveland is tricky though, because we’d probably have to move either Marc or Mike to them to make a deal happen. Boston might look at us since they have the Grizzlies pick next year, and drafting the right top 3 pick is NO guarantee that the Grizzlies end up back in the playoffs. Lots of uncertainty.
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being “not important at all”, 10 being “the most important pick in the team’s history”, how much is riding on the bouncing ping pong balls in Chicago tonight?
Mullinax- It is a 10. It’s easily the most important since 2009, and you can argue this pick is more important than that one because of the stakes. Both the present and the future of the Grizzlies is on the line. You have a team that could potentially be back in the playoff mix next season if lots of things break right for them, but their two stars are aging. It’s a rapidly closing window on the road to a rebuild, and this pick will be the centerpiece of that process one way or another. Tonight is the first step.
Noonan- The importance of tonight’s Lottery would be around an 8 for me. This team is declining and Gasol and Conley are aging. The team is going to need a high draft pick to make sure they can possibly get a generational talent so the transition from old to young is as seamless as possible.
Abraham- 10. With the team still eyeing the playoffs, this pick is extremely important. The Grizzlies have a great chance to draft a key cog in their future as well as adding a player who can contribute right away as the Grizzlies fight to remain relevant in the West. Mess up this pick? It’s likely the Grizz spend the next several years in the lottery show. Nail the pick? The present and future of the Grizzlies could be saved.
Fleming- 11. If they miss on this pick, they’ll become the next generation’s Sacramento Kings.
Maxwell- I would give this pick a 7.86. This pick is important because of the context surrounding it. If you consider the confidence the front office has in Bickerstaff, the aging cornerstones in Gasol and Conley, and the horror of last season in its entirety, this pick better pan out to salvage just one long-term thing good from the last 10 months (besides Dillon Brooks).
Ratliff- A hard 10. I’ve been saying for weeks that this is the most important draft in the history of the team. Get it right, you’re back to competing in the West. Get it wrong, and coupled with Boston having your potential lottery pick next year, the Grizzlies could be headed to a very dark timeline. The darkest of timelines.
Stick with GBB throughout the day and night as we break down the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery!