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What Might Have Been: 2016 NBA Draft

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This one is painful.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-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 2016 draft.

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.

Check out the 2013 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

Check out the 2014 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

This draft is painful.

The Memphis Grizzlies were entering a pivotal moment heading into this draft. For one, they had just finished a season that was so weird — great, then miserable, then kind of fun. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Brandan Wright, and Mario Chalmers all finished the season on the injury list. The team’s best players were an aging Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, as well as Matt Barnes and Lance Stephenson. Jordan Farmer and Chris “Birdman” Anderson were seriously in the starting lineup for the NBA playoffs.

I’m telling you, it was weird.

Secondly, the Grizzlies had a chance to acquire a young player that could immediately contribute for a playoff team, while being the first piece for the bridge between “The Core 4” and a new era of Memphis basketball. With Mike Conley’s free agency pending, and 35+ year old Randolph and Allen entering the final year of their deals, they needed to hit on this pick.

They flopped harder than the “Lob City” Clippers here...not just once, but three times.

Ok, let’s get this over with.


The Pick — Wade Baldwin

What happened:

Wade Baldwin generated some “Westbrook” hype with his freaking wingspan, athleticism, and size for the point guard position. He also flashed two-way promise in college with good defensive tools and a stellar 3-point percentage.

Baldwin’s debut was awesome, as he had a 7-6-5-3-3 line and flashed upside as a strong two-way guard. After that, it all went downhill, and his upside went to waste. His shot couldn’t fall, he looked lost most of the time, and his attitude wasn’t great. Ultimately, he wasn’t ready for a big role, and the Grizzlies cut ties with him before his sophomore year — probably premature.

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

Russell. Westbrook. 2.0.


The “What Might’ve Been”

  • Malik Beasley

What Happened:

The first promising player the Grizzlies passed on was Malik Beasley. After one season at Florida State, the swingman landed on the Denver Nuggets. He spent his first few years getting reps in the G-League, but he’s now a prominent rotation player for one of the better Western Conference teams.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

They would’ve given up on him too quickly.

  • Caris LeVert

What Happened:

LeVert’s stock was hard to judge because of a foot injury. However, he’s emerged as a do-it-all wing-guard hybrid for the Brooklyn Nets, looking the part of a go-to guy, when healthy.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

The injury probably would’ve lingered, and he would’ve become good elsewhere.

  • Pascal Siakam

(Why does this happen to me?)

What Happened:

What more can you say? Siakam has transformed from an energy bench big, to a legitimate second-fiddle on a title-winning team. Once a NBA Twitter secret, Siakam burst on the scene these playoffs, showing the world that he’s one of the best two-way big men in the game.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

I don’t even want to think about what he would’ve been here.

  • Dejounte Murray

What Happened:

Murray missed all of this past season with an ACL injury, but in his sophomore season, he flashed promise as an All-Defense player and a solid floor general. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White will turn San Antonio into “Sticky City” next year.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

[See Wade Baldwin’s Memphis career]

  • Malcolm Brogdon

What Happened:

To be fair, everyone passed on Malcolm Brogdon, the eventually Rookie of the Year from this draft class. THE MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES DID IT THREE FREAKIN’ TIMES, AND THEY TRADED A FIRST-ROUND PICK WITHOUT ACQUIRING HIM TOO.

Goodness.

Brogdon surprised people as a rookie, but this past year, his performance was eye-popping. He joined the 50-40-90 club and solidified himself as a brilliant two-way guard in Mike Budenholzer’s system. This summer, he will get paid.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

Garrett Temple 2.0.


Damn.

This draft hurts.

It hurts passing on Pascal Siakam and Malcolm Brogdon, two of my favorite non-Grizzly players in the league. After being the biggest Wade Baldwin apologist on Grizz Twitter, it stung to see him never put it together.

What hurts the most though is, all the decisions seemed right at the time and with hindsight. Wade Baldwin was the best point guard on the board at the time, and with Conley’s status with the team in question, they needed to potentially find the floor general of the future. So, if you’re going to argue for someone else, it would’ve been Dejounte Murray.

The Grizzlies did trade a first-round pick (from the Clippers, would’ve been the 20th pick in this year’s draft) for the 31st and 35th selections in the 2016 draft. Those picks weren’t bad at the time. Deyonta Davis was falling, after generating lottery hype, and he could’ve been a good backup 5 behind Gasol. In addition, they didn’t need 3 rookies on the roster, so picking and stashing Rade Zagorac made sense.

The after-effects were just brutal. Baldwin thought he was A LOT better than he was, Davis had little-to-no basketball IQ or motor, and Zagorac wasn’t a NBA player.

In the process, they passed on ...

A legitimate go-to player for a bottom-seeded playoff team.

A solid rotation wing for a top-5 NBA team.

A long point guard that’ll be a defensive nightmare for years to come.

A 50-40-90 player that can also give your team 15 points and 4 assists a night.

A modern big that just averaged 20-8-4 on 50% shooting as a 3rd year player in the NBA Finals.

Yes, I just said that the Grizzlies didn’t make the wrong choices at the time. However, the players they passed on magnify the misses here. This draft altered the short-term complexity of the Grizzlies, as the bench was quite weak — aside from a 35-year old Zach Randolph and a 40-year old Vince Carter — for the 2017 season. With Baldwin gone after a year, the 2017-18 season was gloom, as they didn’t have a first-round pick to watch grow. In addition, it was a chance to add another piece to the bridge between the GNG era and this next era of Grizzlies basketball.

Follow @sbngrizzlies.