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The 10 Worst Draft Picks in Memphis Grizzlies History: Part II - The Worst of the Worst

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#1 won’t be a surprise to anyone

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Miss Part I? Catch up here.

Before we continue down our list, let’s catch up on our important notes:

  1. These are players selected either by the Grizzlies or for the Grizzlies by another team, so yes this is including trades. Essentially, the player had to be selected by/for the Grizzlies and played their first games with the Memphis Grizzlies.
  2. Like Site Manager Joe Mullinax did in his series, I am starting with 2001 as this is history for the MEMPHIS Grizzlies. Also because I was 7 when the Grizzlies moved to Memphis, my memory of the Vancouver Grizzlies is shady.
  3. All draft picks, 1st and 2nd round, are included.
  4. This is not necessarily an indictment on the player, as some have turned out to have solid careers. In those instances, it’s more of an indictment to the front office and the Grizzlies player development.
  5. Thanks DraftSite.com for the historical drafts that fit criteria #1 (example: shows O.J. Mayo as Grizzlies draft selection instead of Kevin Love)
  6. Criteria considered while ranking these picks: games played with Grizzlies, where they were selected, as well as various statistical categories and overall roles while with the Grizzlies. Highlighted players selected after the Grizzlies selection were not considered in my rankings, but have been included to break your heart.

Here’s a quick recap of Part I -

10. Jarnell Stokes

9. Rade Zagorac

8. Wade Baldwin IV

7. DeMarre Carroll

6. Jordan Adams

Picking up where we left off, at #5...

5. Tony Wroten Jr. (25th Overall)

Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The only Grizzlies pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Tony Wroten was supposed to come in and be a solid combo guard off the bench. Wroten was never able to get into a rhythm with the Grizzlies, bouncing up and down from the D-League. In 35 games, Wroten averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 assists in a measly 7.8 minutes per game. Wroten’s lack of a jumper and sporadic play forced the Grizzlies to sign veteran Keyon Dooling as the team prepared for the playoffs. The following offseason, the Grizzlies dumped Wroten by trading him to the 76ers for a second round pick.

Wroten was signed, waived, re-signed and waived during the 2016 offseason by the Grizzlies, never making it back on the Grizzlies roster in time for the season. The Grizzlies were hoping to get more out of Wroten when they drafted him in the first round in 2012.

Players selected after Wroten: Jae Crowder (34th Overall), Draymond Green (35th Overall), Khris Middleton (39th Overall), Will Barton (40th Overall)

4. Drew Gooden (4th Overall)

Gooden looks to pass Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Drew Gooden actually had a solid NBA career, lasting 14 season in the league. However, only 9 months of that long career was with the Memphis Grizzlies. Gooden’s numbers weren’t actually terrible in the 51 games he played with the Grizzlies, as he averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds a game in only 26 minutes.

The Grizzlies weren’t impressed enough, however, trading him to the Magic in exchange for Mike Miller midway through Gooden’s rookie season. Gooden wasn’t terrible, and the 2002 class was bad as a whole, but the Grizzlies really needed another star to pair with Pau Gasol as he was entering his second season. Gooden deserves some credit for not being a terrible Grizzly, but expectations were much higher for the 4th overall pick.

Players selected after Gooden: Nene Hilario (7th Overall), Amar’e Stoudemire (9th Overall), Caron Butler (10th Overall), Tayshaun Prince (23rd Overall), Carlos Boozer (35th Overall), Matt Barnes (46th Overall), Luis Scola (56th Overall)

3. Troy Bell (16th Overall)

Getty Images - Joe Murphy

Not many Grizzlies fans know who Troy Bell is. Heck, I had to look him up while writing this feature. Bell was initially drafted by the Celtics but was traded, along with the rights to Dahntay Jones, to the Grizzlies in exchange for Marcus Banks (13th overall in 2003) and Kendrick Perkins (27th overall in 2003). Bell was essentially useless for the Grizzlies in his lone season in the NBA. Bell only appeared in 6 games for the Grizzlies, playing only 5.7 minutes per game. Dahntay Jones was a nice pick up for the Grizzlies in the trade, but Bell has been long forgotten.

Players selected after Bell: David West (18th Overall), Boris Diaw (21st Overall), Leandro Barbosa (28th Overall), Luke Walton (32nd Overall), Zaza Pachulia (42nd Overall), Mo Williams (47th Overall), Kyle Korver (51st Overall)

2. Xavier Henry (12th Overall)

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Ah yes, the first of many Chris Wallace failed Kansas products. After narrowly missing out on the playoffs the season prior, the Grizzlies drafted Xavier Henry to be a key cog in getting them in to the playoffs. The Grizzlies made the playoffs the following year, but Henry had nothing to do with it. In 38 games with the Grizzlies, and somehow 16 starts, Henry averaged 4.3 points and not much else. His lack of a jumper hurt the Grizzlies and was a key factor in Henry’s diminished role.

After being a highly touted recruit, and a solid freshman season, Henry was supposed to be a quality NBA player, but it just never clicked for him. After not playing in the first half of the Grizzlies season he was traded to the Hornets in a 3 team trade that brought Marreese Speights to the Grizzlies.

Players selected after Henry: Eric Bledsoe (18th Overall), Avery Bradley (19th Overall), Trevor Booker (23rd Overall), Hassan Whiteside (33rd Overall), Lance Stephenson (40th Overall)

1. Hasheem Thabeet

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Even if the Grizzlies completely whiff on their 2018 draft pick, it likely can’t get any worse than when they selected Hasheem Thabeet with the 2nd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

(Knocks on wood furiously)

Thabeet was highly regarded as the next Dikembe Mutombo and he looked the part with his 7’3” frame and 7’6.25” wingspan. He was supposed to be the big defensive presence down low for the Grizzlies, picking up where Zach Randolph lacked on that side of the court. Offensively, Thabeet wasn’t expected to be great but was supposed to be good enough to grab offensive boards and get easy buckets on put backs.

None of that happened with Thabeet. In his 1.5 seasons in Memphis, Thabeet averaged only 2.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 fouls in only 11.1 minutes of action per game. Thabeet struggled catching up to the speed of the NBA, making his physical abilities almost useless as he was lost on both ends of the court. He was the first second overall pick to ever be sent down to the D-League and was a disaster for the Grizzlies. Midway through his second season the Grizzlies gave up on Thabeet and traded him, along with a first round pick, to the Rockets in exchange for Shane Battier and Ish Smith. Battier would go on and hit a huge game-clinching bucket to give the Grizzlies their first ever playoff victory that season. Worth it, right? Not at all. And it only gets worse when you look at the players selected after Thabeet...

Players selected after Thabeet: James Harden (3rd Overall), Tyreke Evans (4th Overall), Ricky Rubio (5th Overall), Steph Curry (7th Overall), DeMar DeRozan (9th Overall), Jrue Holiday (17th Overall), Jeff Teague (19th Overall)

Those are just the All-Star level players selected after Thabeet. The list would be much longer if I included the players who turned out to be solid starters or rotational players as well. Thabeet will likely go down as the biggest draft bust in Grizzlies history.


Some final takeaways before you compare Mo Bomba to Hasheem Thabeet in the comments -

  • The Grizzlies give up on players very quickly. None of the players on this list played more than 3 seasons with the Grizzlies, with most lucky to survive year 2. Sure, the Grizzlies were patient with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, among others, but their track record shows a lack of patience and player development with their draft picks.
  • The Grizzlies suck at drafting. You already knew that if you read Joe’s 10 best draft picks last week, but this list does nothing but confirm it. Looking at the list of players drafted after the Grizzlies bust; some of it is just bad luck, but it mostly shows that this franchise has never drafted well.
  • The Grizzlies can’t develop players. None of the players on this list were developed by the Grizzlies. Yet Drew Gooden and DeMarre Carroll carved out nice NBA careers. The future is still bright for Wade Baldwin. Some others on this list are young enough to make a name for themselves. Besides Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, who else have the Grizzlies actually developed? Andrew Harrison? Jarell Martin? Yikes.

There’s not much reason for optimism when it comes to the Grizzlies draft history. Surely the team is bound to get lucky and get a star at some point right? Maybe that night is June 21st, 2018. Grizzlies fans likely won’t get their hopes up too high, but next month provides them the best chance in awhile to turn their draft misfortune around.

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