Finally, we are approaching the 2019 NBA Draft!
Ever since the Memphis Grizzlies won the 2nd overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, fans have been anxiously awaiting this day. They’ve been making plans for how they will be enjoying the draft festivities (hopefully with us, I Love Memphis, and 92.9 FM ESPN at The Bluff) and counting down the hours, minutes, and even seconds until the Grizzlies (almost certainly) select Ja Morant of Murray State to be Jaren Jackson Jr.’s running partner for hopefully the next decade.
There are other angles to cover for Memphis beyond the Morant connection, however. To help me do just that, I have enlisted the help of GBB Senior Writer Brandon Abraham and GBB Writers Justin Lewis, Shawn Coleman, and Ross Jarrar.
In any Mike Conley trade scenario, what would you emphasize - draft pick in this draft, or quality of young player returning?
GBB SITE MANAGER JOE MULLINAX: It’s like the supply and demand curve - you’re looking for the intersection of two plots, trying to maximize both as best you can. In this draft, it probably means either the Miami Heat at #13 overall and a player like Justise Winslow (and cap filler), or the Boston Celtics at #14 overall and Gordon Hayward. That’s not to say either team does those deals - Boston would only trade Hayward if they’re fairly sure he won’t ever be the same, for example. But to me, that’s the best you’re going to get in terms of combination value. The higher the pick, the worse the player. I’d rather have a worse pick and better player, if I had to choose.
GBB SENIOR WRITER BRANDON ABRAHAM: It would depend on the team we are trading with for me. If we trade with a team with a top 10 pick, I’d value the pick more. Outside of the top 10, I’d value the quality of young player in return.
GBB WRITER JUSTIN LEWIS: Quality of young player returning. We have no idea how any of these guys in the draft are going to pan out. I would rather get a young guy that has played a year or two in the league that has already shown promise. This is considered a three player draft for a reason.
GBB WRITER SHAWN COLEMAN: I would love to get the best player back we can. I feel that this draft is one of the weakest in terms of depth in years, and also feel that an intriguing talent could work well with a coach like Taylor Jenkins. If our new front office wants to start this rebuild off on the right foot, it begins with balancing risk with reward. If they trust they made the right decision in a head coach, I feel it makes sense to a known young talent for Jenkins to work with.
GBB WRITER ROSS JARRAR: I think a draft pick would have to be emphasized when trading Mike Conley. With Memphis losing either 2020’s or 2021’s first-round pick to Boston, the Grizzlies would be smart to supplement that with Phoenix’s 6th pick, for example. An actual quality young player might be better because all that pick could potentially be...is another quality young player. Sure you can take the free boat as a prize, but there could be anything in the mystery box! Even a boat!
Is it worth even acquiring another pick in this draft, or should the Grizzlies prioritize a future pick in a Conley trade?
MULLINAX: I believe this draft is deeper than most do, at least in terms of productive NBA talent. That doesn’t mean there is star power further down the list, of course, and once you get beyond the lottery it is a lot of educated guess work. I am going to side with the types of prospects that Memphis has been bringing in for workouts and assume they’re not looking for another pick in this 1st round. Give me a 2020 or 2021 first, even if it’s heavily protected.
ABRAHAM: Personally, I think this is a very weak draft. That, on top of the fact I think better Conley deals can come after the draft, I think the Grizzlies should prioritize future picks instead of picks in this years draft. The only thing that would change my mind is a top 5 pick in this years draft.
LEWIS: It depends on where the pick is and who is available. Does Phoenix or Chicago send us a top ten pick? If so, take it and walk away with a DeAndre Hunter, but if it is a late lottery pick, give me a 2021 pick instead.
COLEMAN: As I mentioned above, this draft, in my opinion, is one of the weakest over the past few years in terms of depth. It seems the drafts over the next few years may be deeper, and that is why I prioritize future picks over picks in this draft. Furthermore, you also gain better perspective of what you have on your current roster. They can help improve the chances that you make a good selection with a future draft pick.
JARRAR: I would lean towards a future pick, but keeping your young players on the same contract timeline is beneficial, so I choose a pick in this draft. We do this every year where we claim first-round picks worthless after the top prospects come off the board and every year a late selection produces. Landry Shamet and Mitchell Robinson were those selections last year. Pascal Siakam is having an amazing NBA Finals and he was picked #27 in 2016. Rudy Gobert also went #27 in 2013. It’s a lot harder to find talent later, but it’s still possible. A pick in this draft should be valuable in that regard.
Who is a 2nd round “sleeper” you hope Memphis will buy a pick/trade for?
MULLINAX: As a University of Virginia basketball fan, I love Ty Jerome. His game as a combo guard that can both create off the dribble and score on the perimeter makes a ton of sense as a bench player, especially if this new front office and coaching staff decides that Delon Wright is too expensive to keep. If Jerome falls to the 2nd round, where teams like Philadelphia have multiple selections, I would target him there for sure.
ABRAHAM: Zach Norvell Jr. intrigues me quite a bit. The Ringer has him slotted to go in the later half of the second round and I like his hustle and shooting ability. He would be a nice addition for the Grizzlies, albeit the guard position would be crowded.
LEWIS: There are a couple I am keeping my eye on. Luka Samanic and Daniel Gafford are two that intrigue me.
COLEMAN: For me, the player is Admiral Schofield. Yes, that involves bias because I am a vols fan, but it is also because I feel he truly can be a very valuable asset, both on and off the court. No matter his role, he will be dedicated to his craft and making the most of his talent. While different as players, I truly feel Schofield could be this year’s version of Malcolm Brogdon, and that carries a ton of value for a rebuilding team.
JARRAR: Auburn’s Chuma Okeke intrigues me. He suffered an ACL tear in the Sweet Sixteen last year so he may be available in the second-round despite being first-round talent. He’s a decent shooter and a terrific defender, giving Ja Morant troubles when Auburn and Murray State played early in the season.
If the Grizzlies were to acquire another pick in the 1st round of this draft but it’s outside of the lottery, who should they target?
MULLINAX: Nickeil Alexander-Walker of Virginia Tech is a fun possibility. I know, Virginia bias strikes again, but NA-W is a solid scoring guard who can facilitate offense and (in theory) defend all three perimeter positions. It’s possible, like Jerome, that his production was higher within the system of an excellent head coach than it will be as a pro. But still, in America’s toughest conference, the ACC, Alexander-Walker had pretty consistent success.
ABRAHAM: If the Grizzlies acquire a mid to late first round pick I would select Tyler Herro without any hesitation. Herro would bring much needed shooting to the Grizzlies and I love the way he plays with a chip on his shoulder. If Herro is off the board, give me Dylan Windler (Belmont) and his sweet shooting stroke. I’d pretty much take any of the great shooters available in this range.
LEWIS: A couple of Kentucky guys in Tyler Herro or Keldon Johnson would be an easy choice if they fell out of the lottery, some believe Bol Bol is a top 5 talent but also a top 5 risk. If we acquire a pick outside of the lottery and he is there, I will take that risk.
COLEMAN: Tyler Herro, and it is not close. His outside shooting ability could easily be one of the best in this class, and eventually in the NBA. With Jenkins coaching history centering on “space and pace”, putting a talent like Herro instantly with Ja and Jaren would be phenomenal. His form is fantastic, and he has the confidence to shoot anywhere at any time. That is typically a good personality trait for guys that develop into significant talents.
JARRAR: I’m a big fan of Matisse Thybulle from Washington. First, AMAZING name. Second, AMAZING defender. A two-time Pac-12 All-Defense selection. A two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Over the last two years (70 games, 31 minutes per game) he’s averaged 3.2 steals and 1.9 blocks per game thanks to his 7’0” wingspan on his 6’5” frame. He seems to be the player outside the lottery most ready to contribute immediately.
Thanks to Ross/Shawn/Justin/Brandon for joining me! Hopefully you’ll be joining us at The Bluff Memphis this Thursday night as GBB, I Love Memphis, and 92.9 FM host a 2019 NBA Draft Watch Party!