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What Might Have Been: 2012 NBA Draft

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This should’ve gone differently...

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next week and a half, I’m going to look back at each draft for the Memphis Grizzlies since the infamous 2009 proceedings. I’ll discuss what their pick would’ve been — in a semi-satirical way — if he was selected by another team. In addition, I’ll do the same about players they passed on if they were picked by the Memphis Grizzlies instead. Then, I’ll wrap it up by making sense on the pick and if it was the right call at the time. With that, let’s continue this “What Might Have Been” series with the 2011 draft — the first one with a traded pick.

Check out the 2009 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

Check out the 2010 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

Check out the 2011 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

Entering the 2012 draft, the Memphis Grizzlies just exited the playoffs in the first round, but there weren’t many question marks about them. The core was set with the 5 of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol. Sure, some roster decisions were looming with that group, as the luxury tax exists. They didn’t have to deal with it at the moment though. OJ Mayo — once the franchise’s prodigal son — was probably on his way out, as he was probably seeking a larger role and more money at the time. In addition, their bench was questionable at best, as Marreese Speights and Quincy Pondexter were the only guys that would be back next year.

At 25, they had a chance to bolster their depth, but they went with a project instead. Tony Wroten possessed a lot of upside, but it never materialized — and the Grizzlies never gave him enough time either.

Was the gamble worth it? Or did they need to be more safe?


The Pick — Tony Wroten

What happened:

Tony Wroten came into the league way too quick, as he bolted after one season at the University of Washington. He was way too raw for reps as a NBA point guard. His handles are dazzling when in the Drew League, but it was erratic in the NBA. In addition, he wasn’t hurting anybody with a jumper.

The Grizzlies traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for a second-round pick, after just one season with the team. He had a fun small run with the “Trust the Process” with the Sixers, but he was never going to make an impact on a playoff team. After being let go by Philadelphia, he hopped on some rosters — including the Grizzlies in 2016 — but he never had a chance to show what he could do. Now, he’s out of the league.

What Would’ve Happened if He Went to Another Team:

Wroten, on another team with more time, would’ve become a great backup point guard that’d be a dazzling playmaker and a bolt of energy.


The “What Might’ve Been”

Go for the liquor cabinet.

  • Will Barton

What Happened:

It took Barton a bit, but he’s really evolved into one of the best sixth men in basketball. He’s a pure bucket-getter that can score on multiple levels, and that skill has elevated the Nuggets’ ceiling, as he had some huge games in these past playoffs. It’s always super cool to see a former Memphis Tiger do well.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

[look at Rodney Carney or Shawne Williams’ NBA career]

  • Jae Crowder

What Happened:

After being oft-used in Dallas, he was in the trade package that sent Rajon Rondo to the Maverickslol. In Boston, he thrived in Brad Stevens’ system and became one of the most steady two-way wings in the league. Though he was lost in Cleveland, he’s regained that form in Utah in a similar structure he had in Boston.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

Crowder probably would’ve given the Grizzlies shades of DeMarre Carroll, where he couldn’t hit anything in Memphis but would be pretty good elsewhere.

  • Khris Middleton

What Happened:

Middleton started in Detroit then was traded too quickly. He was an afterthought in a deal that sent Brandon Jennings to the Pistonsagain, lol. The improvement he has shown year after year has been absolutely superb, and he might be one of the best two-way wings in basketball. After reaching his first All-Star game, and serving as a great sidekick next to Giannis, Middleton will receive a max contract from someone this summer.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

The Grizzlies would’ve traded him for a backup point guard that they’d keep for a year.

  • Draymond Green

What Happened:

What’s there to say? He’s one of the best defenders of all time — definitely, the greatest of this generation. In addition, his two-way brilliance altered the game, as the lineups are now smaller, and teams are searching for playmaking big men — all because of Draymond. He’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, no cap.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

The Grizzlies would’ve kept him in a box as a 3, and he would’ve been a journeyman role player for this entire career.


Ok, you can put your bottles down now.

With a questionable bench situation, the Grizzlies should’ve used this pick on someone that could play right now. Enter Draymond Green.

He was actually in consideration for the pick, and though there was a logjam at the 4, it would still be worth it. Talent over fit.

Draymond’s game and attitude fits the Memphis Grizzlies. He embodied that “grit ‘n’ grind” culture, and he would’ve been the perfect person to carry the torch once Tony Allen and Zach Randolph were gone. In fact, Draymond might’ve made it easier to let Randolph walk.

Just imagine Draymond running the 4 next to Gasol and Conley in the post-GNG era. That playoff streak wouldn’t have ended.

Yes, it’s easy to call for Draymond being this pick, knowing what we know. However, he should’ve been the pick at the time. He could’ve been the guy that would elevate the bench, fit the city’s culture, and carry the legacy of Allen and Randolph forward.

Follow @sbngrizzlies.