The Memphis Grizzlies will definitely land in the top-five picks of the 2018 NBA Draft, but it’s hard to say who they’ll pick. If they land first or second, it’s easy to see them only consider Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic. If they’re between 3-5, there are many different routes they could take. They can either go the safe route and lean towards Marvin Bagley or Mikal Bridges. They could swing for the fences with high-upside prospects like Jaren Jackson Jr., Mo Bamba, Trae Young, or Michael Porter Jr.
You probably have these guys on your board, and you probably have them ranked off certain criteria and analysis. Luka Doncic may not be your guy, because you’re not a fan of the foreign hype. Big men DeAndre Ayton and Mo Bamba may not be high on your board, because of PTSD (Post Thabeet Stress Disorder). Where you have Michael Porter Jr. depends on how seriously you take his back injury. Whether you think he’s Steph Curry or Jimmer Fredette will round out your opinion on Trae Young.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of criteria.
Let’s break down who the Memphis Grizzlies should pick based on some...”fun” criteria.
Marketability: Trae Young
Who does Trae Young play like? Steph Curry.
Who’s the NBA’s most popular star not named LeBron James in the past half-decade? Steph Curry.
If Trae Young reaches his ceiling, he’ll be the most transcendent star in the Grizzlies’ history. You already saw how ESPN was when he hit supernova for a solid two-month stretch. They couldn’t talk about college basketball without Trae Young. Imagine the media coverage Memphis could receive then. It’ll be absolutely epic.
Not to mention, like Steph, you’ll see plenty of people in the 7-14 age demographic that’ll love Young for…well…doing Steph things.
Based on his ceiling alone, he’ll be a bigger draw than any of these picks.
Honorable Mention: Marvin Bagley III
Most Memphis: Marvin Bagley III
There are just some players in this league that are Memphis-type player. What do I mean? Usually tough, gritty, blue-collar players fall into this category. We obviously saw first-hand with Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, as their personas on and off the court transformed them into icons in this city. Even then, there are plenty of guys in the league that fit Memphis — P.J. Tucker and Draymond Green, to name a few.
In this draft though, it’s a foregone conclusion that Marvin Bagley fits Memphis and would be a beloved fan favorite. Many Grizz fans will see flashes of Z-Bo when they see Bagley, primarily due to his tenacity on the glass rebounding the ball. (And he’s also left-handed).
Of all the prospects in the elite tier, Bagley is easily the grittiest, toughest player of them all, which is absolutely perfect for Memphis.
Honorable Mention: Mikal Bridges
Best Fit: Luka Doncic
The idea of Luka Doncic is absolutely glorious. He’s a 6’8” wing that can pass like a point guard. He may be 19 years old, but he plays well beyond his years. He clearly shows way more poise than any teenage basketball. His 3-point percentage suggests he has a shaky jumper, but it could be a product of bail-out attempts at the end of the shot clock. His speed may be a concern, but he’s crafty getting into the paint.
Ideally, Doncic is the best fit for the Grizzlies, as he fills a need they’ve had since 2013. Since the Rudy Gay trade, they’ve needed a perimeter player that could serve as a secondary playmaker and shooter. They’ve tried with Tayshaun Prince, Jeff Green and Chandler Parsons, but no to avail. Dillon Brooks has filled this role admirably. However, because the league is so perimeter-oriented, Doncic is the best fit for the wing-depleted Grizzlies.
Hopefully, Doncic can live up to the hype and become an immediate NBA contributor.
Honorable Mention: Marvin Bagley
Most Likely to Last in the League the Longest: Deandre Ayton
I was really close to going with Mikal Bridges or Marvin Bagley, because they have little-to-no bust potential. However, there’s Deandre Ayton who is at worst a middle-tier starting center.
He’s going to get you a double-double every night. He’s too good in the low post, and he’s an animal crashing the class. It’s just not too hard to not see him become Andre Drummond or Clint Capela. At the worst possible scenario, he’s another Erick Dampier or Samuel Dalembert.
Given his size and offensive skills, he can be a solid big man in this league for 15 years, even if he doesn’t reach his Hall-of-Fame ceiling.
Honorable Mention: Mikal Bridges
Swing for the Fences pick: Michael Porter Jr.
Is this one even close? Going into the season, Porter was a near-unanimous #1 on any draft board. He’s a 6’10” wing with guard-like skills and a silky shooting stroke, receiving many Durant comparisons in the process. His back injury sidelined him for the season, living him to be the biggest mystery of the draft.
Will he be a star-caliber player that can usher the Grizzlies into a new era? Or is his back prevent him from reaching his ceiling?
He’s a perfect fit for the Grizzlies, as he’s a deft perimeter scorer with the ability to play both the 3 and 4. However, his health makes him a huge question mark.
Honorable mention: Mo Bamba
Move Chris Wallace is most likely to make: Trading the pick + Chandler Parsons (and his fat contract) for Andrew Wiggins
5-star high school basketball player? Check.
Former McDonald’s All-American? Check.
Was a Kansas Jayhawk? Check.
Lots of potential? Check.
There was talk of Wiggins being unhappy in Minnesota. The Grizzlies have draft-night trade history with Minnesota under Wallace’s tenure. Given Wiggins’ awesome résumé, how can he pass this one up? If you can build the perfect Chris Wallace player, it is Andrew Wiggins!
He’ll pull this move off faster than Sonic the Hedgehog, and…it’ll backfire. Parsons will become a productive player again, and the draft pick will turn into a cornerstone that helps Minnesota propel to new heights. Meanwhile, Wiggins will continue to regress and will become Jeff Green reincarnated.
In. Complete. Grizzly. Fashion.
Honorable Mention: Giving out a pre-draft promise.
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