Of course where Memphis will select is yet to be determined - that comes on Tuesday, May 15th as the Grizzlies hope the ping pong balls bounce their way and lands them the 1st overall pick in the draft festivities on June 21st. The Grizzlies only have a 19.9% shot at that happening, however. It is far more likely that they pick #2 or #3 (35.9%) or in the range of #2-5 (80.1%).
Regardless of where the #2 slotted team in the NBA Draft Lottery falls, they know one thing for sure right now - they will pick at #32 in this year’s draft as well. Memphis owns their 2nd round pick this season, and the make-up of the current Grizzlies roster tells you just how important those picks can be. Andrew Harrison, Deyonta Davis, Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks, and even Marc Gasol himself were at one point 2nd round picks. Some have panned out better than others, but the fact remains that Memphis clearly sees the value in these selections.
Different from recent years, though, is the early 1st rounder that the Grizzlies possess. Assuming they hold on to the selection, that player will be a key cog in the Grizzlies machine for years to come. Depending on who Memphis takes 1st-5th overall, depending on the ping pong balls of the Lottery, that 2nd round pick will likely be depended on to be a part of that new “core” that the Grizzlies hopefully start building through the draft.
Is it possible that they draft and stash? Sure. Pick the best player available? Definitely. Draft for need? Of course. Anything is fair game in the 2nd round. How they use that first rounder, though, will offer potential insight in to what their ideas for 2nd round value hold.
Let’s start at the very top.
If the Memphis Grizzlies select Deandre Ayton...
Then a Duke-ie may come to the Bluff City.
Ayton almost surely will not be there for Memphis if the Grizzlies fall below #1 overall. Let’s say they win the lottery, though, and Memphis opts for the consensus best prospect on the board. Ayton has a lot of strengths to his game, but where he is already near elite on the NBA-level is in his ability to finish at the rim. The pick and roll is a major part of most NBA offenses, and the Grizzlies are no different. Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Andrew Harrison, and Tyreke Evans if he returns are all possible partners to do the pick and roll polka with Ayton if he lands with the Grizzlies.
Who will be possibly available at #32 that could fit that mold? A couple of former Duke Blue Devils - Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval. Both players can finish at the rim as well as create off the dribble, and while Allen is a superior shooter to Duval at this stage Duval’s size as a true “point guard” and athleticism is better than Allen’s. Duval may also fit what Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff hopes to build off the bench more than Allen defensively, as well as with intangibles.
Both may be there at #32. Both would fit nicely alongside Ayton.
Other possibility- Devonte Graham, Kansas University...ah hell, GM Chris Wallace is gonna take him. Rock chalk, Jayhawk!
Next, every blog boy’s man crush at the moment...
If the Memphis Grizzlies select Luka Doncic...
Then defense must follow him in the 2nd round.
It doesn’t HAVE to be a big like Brandon McCoy, necessarily, but if Doncic is the selection of the Grizzlies at any point in the top-5 they should strongly consider ensuring their next pick can defend. Doncic lacks the lateral quickness and athleticism to ever be an elite man defender in the NBA...and maybe even an above-average one. this can be concerning to some, and understandably so. There are ways to work with those deficits, though. For example, establishing team defensive schemes, where Doncic’s timing and understanding of angles allows for him to make up for his lack of foot speed, could funnel any driving players in to the lane or toward the weak side of the court.
That is where a player like McCoy, whose length could lead to him being a reliable rim protector down the road, fits. Aside from Gasol and Davis, Memphis lacks this a good bit and McCoy could solidify that area some both now and in the future.
Another possibility would be a perimeter defender in the mold of Jevon Carter of West Virginia or Tony Carr of Penn State. Carr has more of the type of frame that the Grizzlies have shown to value in their reserve ball handlers (6’5”) than Carter (6’2”), making him more able to defend multiple positions on the wing. Carter, however, has the pedigree as one of the nation’s top defenders coming out of college with multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, as well as an All-American nod, and the former Mountaineer has the kind of anticipation, intensity, and hands that would make any coach excited to work with him.
Carr has perhaps a higher ceiling, but the floor of Carter as a defender is pretty high. Sometimes it is nice to take very good college basketball players regardless of athletic potential...right Dillon Brooks?
Other possibility- Keita Bates-Diop, a forward out of Ohio State, could potentially defend positions 2-4 in the NBA.
A final example, involving the Bag man himself...
If the Memphis Grizzlies select Marvin Bagley III...
Then they should look to take a versatile, bigger wing to compliment his strengths.
Nevada ran in to the buzz saw that was Loyola-Chicago in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 and lost on yet another buzzer-beating basket. That’s disappointing, because it limited the stage that a player like Caleb Martin was able to play on. This young man, a transfer from NC State, won both the 2018 Mountain West Newcomer and Player of the Year awards and really showed impressive development of his overall game. His frame at 6’7”, 195 pounds fits the modern NBA nicely, and like Bates-Diop could potentially defend both wings and stretch fours. That type of versatility is terrific to be able to display, but on a larger scale Martin has built an offensive skill set that has all the makings of a 2nd round diamond in the rough.
He was a 40% three-point shooter at Nevada, and posted an impressive rebounding stat line as well at 5.4 per game. He comes off screens very well and has a solid (yet kind of funky looking) release on his jumper. Imagine a player like Martin coming off a screen set by Bagley, only to have Bagley roll to the rim for either the offensive rebound or a quick bounce pass for a finish at the basket. Versatile players like Martin and Kansas product (God help us) Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have physical tools like size as well as the jump shot to contribute on both ends and emphasize things that Bagley does very well.
Besides, Memphis could always use shooters. Mykhailiuk, a career near 41% three point shooter that shot 44.4% at Kansas this past season and also posted a career high in assist percentage, has layers to his game as well and either he or Martin could have a Dillon Brooks-esque impact early on for the Grizzlies while playing off of Bagley III.
Other Possibility- Justin Jackson from Maryland is another 6’7” wing with a skill set that could lend it self to fit alongside multiple other role player types.
That first round pick is going to get the headlines, of course. That 2nd round pick of Memphis matters as well, however. The Grizzlies need all the help they can get to maximize whatever assets they have access to. While a swing and a miss at #32 overall may not sting quite as much, it could still limit the floor of the Grizzlies this season and the ceiling of whatever prospect Memphis goes with in the top-5 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft.