Last week, I discussed how the Memphis Grizzlies could trade a player currently on the roster for a draft pick later in the second round, an area in which they have found success in recent years. You should definitely read part one before you read this.
Now if the Grizzlies do decide to trade for another pick in the second round, it raises an obvious question: Who are some players that could be available, assuming the pick is in the 40-50 range, and could be a good fit for the Grizzlies moving forward? Or to put it optimistically, is there another Dillon Brooks in this draft?
To prevent any further damage to my computer or to the part of my brain that comprehends language, we will refer to him from here on out as “Ukrainian Mike”, short for Ukrainian Michael Jordan.
Ukranian Mike developed into an excellent player over his four-year career at Kansas, and he could be a steal in the latter part of the second round. He possesses three good characteristics of a modern NBA guard—size, shooting, and versatility. At 6’8”, he can play both shooting guard and small forward. For his senior year, he averaged 14.8 PPG and shot a remarkable 44% from three, which should translate well at the next level.
His main weakness (as you can probably already guess) is defense. If Ukranian Mike is going to have any kind of career in the NBA, he will have to improve defensively, especially in a guard-oriented Association. Although his lateral quickness greatly needs improvement, he definitely has potential on the defensive end due to his size.
For a player to fall to this far in the draft, they likely are either very raw or have a significant weakness, which Ukrainian Mike definitely has. However, if he is able to improve in his weaker areas, he could potentially be a poor man’s (or homeless man’s) Klay Thompson.
And a poor man’s Klay Thompson would be a great pick for the Grizzlies at this point in the draft.
If the Memphis Grizzlies trade into the 40-50 range and pick Anfernee Simons, it would be a bonafide home run. He is such a high-upside prospect that the Grizzlies should also strongly consider him with their pick at 32.
Since Simons (who will turn 19 in just a few days) will be entering the NBA draft without attending college, his story is certainly a unique one. As a postgraduate (he is now one year removed from his high school graduation), he will still be eligible for the draft despite not playing any college basketball. He initially committed to Louisville over a year ago, but he decided to not join the program after the news of the Rick Pitino scandal broke.
Although he is relatively unknown and unproven, his talent is undeniable. He was considered a top 10 prospect in the ESPN Top 100 and was regarded by 247 Sports as the No. 1 combo guard in the class of 2018. He projects to be an excellent scorer and elite shooter with a lightning-quick stroke at the next level, as he shot around 42% from three at various NBA camps.
Simons has definitely showed all the tools and skills for success in the NBA. However, the question remains whether he will be able to continue to develop against the best competition in the world. His body still greatly needs to fill out, and he will have to improve his playmaking skills as he is undersized to play shooting guard in the NBA.
There may be plenty of unknowns and question marks around Anfernee Simons, but his tantalizing potential alone makes him an easy pick at this point in the draft if he falls down the draft board...which he may not.
A Few Other Names
- If there is any player in this draft that echoes Dillon Brooks, it would probably be point gaurd Jevon Carter. He is an accomplished guard for West Virginia who won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year twice. Depending on what Memphis does with their earlier picks, he could get minutes in his first season.
- Jarred Vanderbilt, a 6’9” point forward from Kentucky, could be a very good high upside pick at this point in the draft. He didn’t get to show much in his freshman season (5.9 points and 7.9 rebounds), but he does have the tools to be a complete player on both ends.
When looking at nearly every NBA draft, there are almost always gems to be found in the second round. The Memphis Grizzlies have done well with this in the past, and they would be wise to try to do so once again this year.
I’m just excited for the inevitable Ukranian Mike Promotional Night!