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.
Check out the 2012 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.
The Memphis Grizzlies missed out on a first round pick in the 2013 draft because of a prior obligation. In the 2010-11 season, the Grizzlies attached this pick to Hasheem Thabeet and DeMarre Carroll and sent them to Houston for Shane Battier and Ish Smith.
I’m going to ditch the format here, because they made the right call, and they didn’t really pay a price here. The pick was used on Andre Roberson, who’s been an excellent defender but a minus offensive player. The only prominent player they passed on was Rudy Gobert, and I didn’t even see him as a logical fit in Memphis. If the pick was never dealt, and he landed in Beale Street Blue, he would’ve been stuck behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. In such event, he would’ve either never become Rudy Gobert at all, or he would’ve become what he is now elsewhere.
Trading the pick paid off. They added a strong veteran leader that was huge in playoff games, as he hit — at the time — the biggest shot in franchise history:
It’s not fun losing a first-round pick in a trade, but this moment isn’t created without it. Though they didn’t have Battier after that season, the mission was accomplished — they made noise in the playoffs and became a formidable threat in the Western Conference.
There’s a lesson to be learned though: there are consequences for bad decisions. As we’ve seen with teams with bad contracts, you sometimes have to part with an asset to unload a failed experiment. With Memphis, their 2009 first-round picks, Hasheem Thabeet and DeMarre Carroll, weren’t making an impact for them, and it looked like they never would. In order to bolster depth — which was definitely needed once Rudy Gay got hurt — they needed to turn negatives into a positive, and they weren’t going to do that without enticing Houston with an asset.
Mission accomplished, but it came at a price — a future first-round pick.
So your “what might have been”...the Grizzlies moment that produced the first win in franchise history would’ve never happened without that trade.