The Memphis Grizzlies fanbase can be both easy and hard to win over. If you do something they like immediately in your tenure, they’re automatically on your side. However, any glaring flaw or mishap, and it’ll take a while to win them over.
Everybody loved Pau Gasol when he was a rising star and the franchise’s first All-Star. Towards the end of his tenure, he received harsh scrutiny for being “soft.”
Of all franchise cornerstones, Rudy Gay was probably the least liked — as his pouting and inability to reach his superstar ceiling made him a scapegoat for the fans.
Nick Calathes was booed for being...well...bad at basketball.
Jeff Green was criticized for not being that missing championship piece.
Even though he was injured for the majority of his time with the Grizzlies, Jordan Adams was criticized for not being better than Rodney Hood.
Then, there’s everybody’s fan-not-so-favorite Chandler Parsons. Fans are harsh on him for not playing (due to injury) and for his lavish lifestyle.
It’s fair to say it can be hard to please Grizz Nation once you’re on their bad side. You best believe if any of these three prospects are heading to Memphis, they could end up on this infamous path?
Can they avoid this road? Can they become fan favorites in Memphis?
Michael Porter Jr.
This one isn’t fair, since he was injured all last year and clearly didn’t return at 100 percent. However, you’ve seen that Grizz Nation doesn’t care (see: Parsons, Chandler).
The idea of Michael Porter Jr. is great, and he can very well be the best player in the draft class 5-10 years down the road. If he reaches his full potential, he could become one of the most talented players in franchise history and a beloved fan favorite.
He’s a fluid athlete with a smooth handle and feel for the game. At 6’10”, he’s a matchup nightmare at both forward positions. His defense is still a concern, but he has the most offensive upside in the entire draft.
However, the back injury is still a concern. We’ve seen some prospects bounce back from knee or foot red flags just fine. We haven’t really seen a prospect with as serious of a back injury as Porter.
If his back injury causes him to not reach his full potential, he’ll become a scapegoat for another one of Chris Wallace’s mistakes.
Mo Bamba might receive the most immediate criticism right away, as plenty of fans will think “Thabeet 2.0.”
Yes, it’s easy to envision Thabeet with him, as he’s a tall, lanky big man with impeccable shot-blocking abilities. However, he won’t be Thabeet, as his basketball IQ and overall skill level is way higher than his ever was. He can step out from NBA 3-point range and consistently knock down the jumper.
Despite this, the Thabeet flashbacks will force Grizz Nation into keeping close eyes on Bamba. He does have the highest bust-tential in the entire draft, as he lacks the strength down low to battle with most NBA 5’s. In addition, some can be skeptical of his offense translating to the league.
If he fails, expect the “Thabeet” comparisons to rain down.
Draft Luka Doncic between 16-25 to save your job. Draft him top 5 and be forever remembered. Save this tweet.— Rashad Phillips (@RP3natural) April 29, 2018
Luka Doncic remains the biggest mystery of the entire draft. Though people would’ve rather seen him against college (more athletic) competition, what he’s doing at his age in the Triple-A of basketball is absolutely phenomenal. As a result, he’s receiving the highest praises. He’s called a “future superstar.” Some call him a European James Harden, or another Ben Simmons.
Doncic is one of the best passers to come out of the draft in the past decade, and at 6’8”, this skill makes him intriguing in today’s position-less NBA. His percentages suggest otherwise, but he’s a solid 3-point shooter. He’s not afraid of the clutch moment. Offensively, he may be one of the best prospects in recent memory.
All of these claims lead to excitement and the belief that he can be a franchise savior. On the other hand though, if he doesn’t pan out, all of this can backfire.
Doncic is slow. He doesn’t have a great first step. Of all the guys in the lottery, he may be the least athletic prospect. Nobody knows how good of a defender he could be.
Living up to his hype will be hard, which is fine. If his game doesn’t translate though, he’ll become the most infamous and scrutinized player in franchise history.