Yes, teams ultimately control a player’s destiny in the any draft. However, many times you see players trying to force their hand and position themselves on their ideal landing spot.
In 2009, Ricky Rubio threatened to stay in Europe if certain teams selected him. Lonzo Ball only worked out for the Lakers last season. Eli Manning didn’t want to play for the San Diego Chargers, who had the first pick, which forced a trade with the New York Giants.
This year, we’re already seeing players sort of play in their hand in where they land. Michael Porter Jr. has the power to release his medicals to certain teams. Luka Doncic could easily pull the same card as Rubio. In less extreme circumstances, players can pick and choose which teams they’d like to work out for.
With 10 days left until the NBA draft, the Memphis Grizzlies haven’t yet hosted a workout for anyone projected for the lottery. Yes, they’ve done their due diligence to interview prospects at the NBA draft combine. In addition, they were in attendance for Michael Porter’s private workout on Friday. However, there’s just something luxurious about hosting a private workout for an elite prospect.
Since the prospects have this much power in their workouts, why aren’t you seeing more players work out with the Memphis Grizzlies?
Granted, some top guys like Bagley and Jackson may see themselves as top-3 rather than top-5. Then, you have Mo Bamba and Trae Young who prioritize immediate playing time — something they wouldn't receive in Memphis with Conley and Gasol at the helm.
Unlike any other team in the top-5 — or even in the top-10, other than Philly — the Grizzlies have an arguably legitimate shot at making the playoffs next season. Teams like Phoenix, Sacramento, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and Orlando probably won’t sniff the playoffs next season. Nobody wants to come into the league and lose a lot of games.
Sure, there’s excitement for these prospects when they can potentially start something special with other young stars — Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
On the other hand, the Grizzlies also have veterans Mike Conley and Marc Gasol who have led the charge for playoff teams. JB Bickerstaff’s newest additions, Chad Forcier (who’s known for player development with Kawhi Leonard) and Jerry Stackhouse (who had a successful 18-year NBA career), make the Grizzlies a hot spot for player development. There’s also a lot of young talent on this team, and there isn’t a clear-cut leader or face yet — unless you think it’s Dillon Brooks.
Not to mention, there are open starting positions on this team. How intriguing is it to be a day-one starter on a potential playoff team? Or even better: how intriguing is it to be a potential go-to option on a playoff team? It certainly has to be an enticing option to think about.
Though the Grizzlies haven’t hosted a pre-draft workout for the elite guys, anyone in their range should look to position themselves in Memphis. They have a real shot at reaching the postseason next season, and this young prospect could carry the torch in leading Memphis into a new era of Grizzlies basketball.