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2019 NBA Mock Draft Roundup: Before the Lottery

If the Grizzlies pick 8th...I will be sad.

Dallas Mavericks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

We are now less than a week away from the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, an event which could very well shape the future of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Much of Memphis has dreams of Zion Williamson dancing through their collective heads, the fact of the matter is that while the Grizzlies are more likely at this stage to keep their pick in this draft (57.4%) than convey it (42.6%), they also are more likely than not going to be picking at #8 overall (31.2%) than at 4th (7.2%), 3rd (6.7%), 2nd (6.3%), or 1st (6.0%). In fact, the top three percentage odds line up in the following fashion, according to tankathon.com -

  1. 9th - 34.1%
  2. 8th - 31.2%
  3. 10th - 8%

So two of the top three individual pick probabilities would result in a convey for the Grizzlies and their 1st round pick, meaning the Boston Celtics would get it this season. It also means that Memphis is more likely to pick 9th or 8th than any of the 1-4 selections combined (26.2%). The 2nd most likely individual pick outcome at this point is the nightmare - 8th overall in a top heavy draft, with another year of doubt regarding your 1st round pick ahead of you.

Yuck.

As we begin our mock draft roundup series (and potentially end it if Memphis does indeed convey), we will begin with that bad dream of #8. There are possible good picks there, in theory, but the long-term ramifications of not conveying the pick this season - Boston could possibly get an unprotected 2021 first from the Grizzlies if the Memphis obligation is not met this or next (top-6 protected in 2020) year - are pretty massive.

Let’s dive in to the abyss that is #8 overall, and hope we never have to come back. We begin with the aforementioned Tankathon, which should be bookmarked by everyone reading this by this point.

Tankathon.com - Darius Garland, Guard, Vanderbilt University

NCAA Basketball: SEC Basketball Tipoff Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The #9 prospect in ESPN’s top-100 a year ago, Garland struggled with injury at Vanderbilt and did not get to showcase his greater skill set. Most folks agree, however, that he has a game that “in theory” fits quite nicely with the modern NBA. He can create for himself and others off the dribble as well as through a nifty passing game, and despite his size he can play off the ball and be a long-range threat as a shooter as well. While he isn’t the best finisher at the rim and could definitely make better decisions with the basketball, there is an upside with Garland that would be near impossible to ignore if he does indeed fall to Memphis at #8. If the Grizzlies decide to keep Mike Conley one more season, he could develop behind Mike and learn from one of the best pros in basketball. If they move on from Conley, he slides in immediately as a starter and could be a dark horse rookie of the year candidate.

The 19-year-old has that kind of talent. But especially in Memphis, anyone that is weary of knee issues (Garland suffered a meniscus injury back in November) is probably not sold on Garland just yet. Hopefully through the process he shows he is healthy...if he is the player that he is capable of being - the guy who scored 33 points against Liberty and shot 47.8% from three before the knee problem - he may not only be a possibility if the Grizzlies pick #8, but also at #4 if Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett are all off the board.

Bleacher Reports’ Joe Tansey - Coby White, Guard, North Carolina

Iona v North Carolina Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Another solid possibility for Memphis if the worst-case scenario plays out.

White has a much larger sample size through his play at North Carolina than Garland does, and one of the biggest pieces of that for Coby is that in that larger run of playing time he displayed the ability to grow his game. He has a better NBA frame than Garland (6’5” to Garland’s 6’3”) and with that size comes the theoretical ability to be a combo guard, playing and defending multiple positions on the perimeter. He understands at the young age of 19 how to use his body to shield off defenders in the lane, and he is projected by tankathon.com to be a very good NBA three point shooter. Versatility is the name of the game, and White appears to have the makings of a multi-tool pro.

He certainly has his flaws. He also is turnover prone, like Garland, and in terms of explosive superstar skills White is not to the caliber of Garland...at least he hasn’t been as the two have been coming through the recruiting and college ranks. Garland is the more heralded prospect, the one who since the age of 14 has been seen as a future NBA force. White had a remarkable high school career in North Carolina, but lacks that explosiveness and raw scoring ability that Garland could have if healthy.

White at this stage would be the safer choice between the two. He has shown at the highest levels of college basketball that he can develop his game and become an impact player, and North Carolina ran an offense this season that is similar to what the NBA is doing in terms of shooting and pace. The transition should be a smooth one, and that makes Coby White a solid pick if Memphis is choosing in the 8th slot.

If Garland AND While are both available? Things get interesting.

CBSSports.com’s Kyle Boone - Cam Reddish, wing, Duke University

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Duke vs UCF Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

And here is the abyss I have been talking about.

On one hand, in terms of talent you can argue Reddish is just as good as R.J. Barrett, his Duke teammate projected to go no lower than 3rd overall on draft night regardless of lottery order. He could potentially play the 2, 3, or even 4 positions on the floor depending on match-ups. He can shoot the cover off the ball at times (key words - AT TIMES) and has all the physical tools as a scorer and especially as a defender to be a stud at the NBA level.

The only problem? He wasn’t consistently a stud at Duke. Yeah, the Coach K, Zion and R.J. Duke.

Here are some of his best games from college...

  • at Florida State - 23 points on 15 shots in 32 minutes played, 5-8 from three
  • vs. North Carolina - 27 points on 23 shots in 35 minutes played, 4-12 from three

...and here are some of his worst games from college -

  • vs. Florida State (ACC Tournament) - 11 points on 8 shots in 37 minutes played, 1-5 from three
  • vs. Michigan State (NCAA Tournament) - 8 points on 8 shots in 37 minutes played, 2-6 from three

At best? He is inconsistent. At worst? He’s deeply flawed because of his inability to take advantage of being the teammate of two other NBA Lottery talents, including one of the most exciting prospects in recent NBA history in Zion Williamson. Now you can explain away a lot of things if you try - he was banged up as the season grinded along, he would’ve been better as a main option at another school and some of his performances while Zion was out due to injury reflect that.

But when you’re getting in to that game, you’re approaching the territory of Jeff Green and other talented players who, for whatever reason, do not have careers that match their perceived abilities.

You can make logical arguments at #8 for a swing for the fences in terms of talent. Reddish has top-5 ability. But if he has those physical talents, why didn’t they show themselves more often at Duke? Can he add the ability to create off the dribble and be a versatile scorer at the NBA level? Is he simply a 3-and-D prospect, and if so, is that worth taking a swing at when others - Jarrett Culver, for example - are still on the board (as he was in this particular mock draft)?

If I were running the Grizzlies draft, I would avoid Reddish at all costs. Take him and trade his rights for future picks if you would like. But the next few years of Jaren Jackson Jr. are too important to take on such a risk.

Stats provided by tankathon.com and cbssports.com.

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