To prepare for the NBA draft lottery, and to get through the dog days between now and then, Grizzly Bear Blues will be running a small mock draft series to show how the draft could shake out if the Memphis Grizzlies landed the first, second, third, fourth, or eighth pick this year. Let’s continue with the third pick.
The first sim that resulted in the 3rd pick for the Grizzlies went as following: Cleveland, Atlanta, Memphis, Phoenix, New York.
- Cleveland Cavaliers — Zion Williamson, basketball anomaly, Duke University
- Atlanta Hawks— R.J. Barrett, ball-handler/wing, Duke University
- Memphis Grizzlies — Ja Morant, ball-handler, Murray State University
- New York Knicks — Jarrett Culver, wing, Texas Tech University
- Phoenix Suns — Darius Garland, ball-handler, Vanderbilt University
Cleveland landing the first pick would be huge for the franchise and the city, as they’re trying to recover and move forward with life after LeBron James.
R.J. Barrett would be an intriguing fit alongside Trae Young and John Collins, allowing Atlanta’s primary playmaker and scorer to play off ball as well.
With the Knicks, I’m more intrigued with DeAndre Hunter on this team, if they do land two stars this summer. On the other hand, Culver can play alongside them as well, but he also compliments guys like Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox a lot better with his ability to be a secondary playmaker and shot creator.
Phoenix has needed a point guard since the Eric Bledsoe trade. Darius Garland is the best one on the board at this point, and he’s a guy whose stock could rise to top-5 status over the pre-draft process.
It’s weird to say, but I love this spot more than almost any non-Zion pick in the draft. It makes the decision so simple: pick whoever’s left between Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett.
Both players would be terrific picks for the Grizzlies, as they can serve as a ball-handler next season and as a core piece next to Jaren Jackson Jr. for years to come. In this mock, the pick here is Ja Morant, whose electrifying game screams “franchise point guard.” With saying that, it makes the decision to trade Mike Conley easier.
It’s not really a secret that Conley wants out, and landing Morant on draft night puts less pressure on them to absolutely find a franchise-caliber point guard in any package. In fact, it might increase the number of possibilities for a trade. Sure, they may lose out on a Lonzo Ball. What if they could get a young shooting guard like Gary Harris? Or a young big like Domantas Sabonis to pair next to Jackson? Or a wing like Josh Jackson? On top of that, pairing Jaren Jackson Jr. with a prospect of Ja Morant’s caliber and even Josh Jackson would at least give the Grizzlies a good baseline to start this rebuild.
Losing Conley will suck, there’s no way around it. Lucking into Ja Morant, or even RJ Barrett, though will ease the sting and help deliver promise for a brighter future.