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What Might Have Been: 2017 NBA Draft

Cool that the Memphis Grizzlies found a way to get picks, but never send a first-round pick in a salary dump.

NBA: Boston Celtics 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 2017 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.

Check out the 2015 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

Check out the 2016 Draft “What Might Have Been” here.

Never trade a first-round pick in a salary dump, kids.

In 2012, the Memphis Grizzlies packaged a first-round pick (protected 1-5 and 15-30 in 2015 and 2016, top-5 protected in 2017, and unprotected this year) with Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, and Josh Selby for Jon Leuer.

Yep, that’s it.

Jon Leuer.

The Grizzlies ultimately cut $6M off their payroll to get under the luxury tax, which makes trading Rudy Gay even more confusing. Anyways, the first-round pick wasn’t a necessary addition to the package. They could’ve likely done this deal with a second-round pick, maybe two. The Grizzlies were sending away two role players and a young player for a fringe NBA player.

Yes, I get the money aspect, but why the hell do you attach a first-round pick in this trade?

So stupid! And what did it cost them? An opportunity to draft in one of the deepest drafts I’ve seen in my lifetime. Though the pick ended up being the 20th selection, the Grizzlies could’ve came away with some awesome additions to this roster.

Let’s get this over with.


The “What Might’ve Been”

(I’m really sorry for what I’m about to do to your well-being as a Grizzlies fan).

  • Jarrett Allen

What Happened:

This shot-blocking machine has one of the brightest futures no one is talking about. His potential as a rim-runner and a rim-protector is elite, like Clint Capela with an actual offensive game. It’s going to be amazing to see him grow and evolve in Brooklyn’s system and culture.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

Oh my, imagine trying to score on Allen and Jaren Jackson Jr. Goodness.

  • OG Anunoby

What Happened:

The arrival of Kawhi Leonard shortened Anunoby’s minutes, but he still has a bright future as a two-way wing for the next decade. His brilliance as a rookie starter on a 59-win was astounding — astounding enough for The Ringer to have him 3rd in a 2017 re-draft. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a huge step next season, either as a role player off the bench or as the post-Kawhi starting small forward.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

He came into the draft with an ACL injury that probably would’ve lingered as a Grizzly. Otherwise, the Grizzlies would have their starting small forward for a decade — an area of weakness for the past 5 years.

  • Kyle Kuzma

What Happened:

Kuzma has flashed enough star potential as a big, versatile scorer to stay on the Lakers after this AD trade, so yeah, he’s pretty good.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

A 4-5 combo of Kuzma and Jackson for the next decade... wow... too bad Kuzma would’ve been forced to play the 3.

  • Derrick White

What Happened:

Derrick White was a G-League mainstay in his rookie year, but he blossomed into one of the most underrated two-way guards in the league. Popovich is a damn wizard.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

Probably would’ve been stuck on the Memphis Hustle for two years.

  • Josh Hart

What Happened:

Josh Hart endured a sophomore slump, but I still like his skill set a lot. He’s a big, tough guard that can hit the 3 ball, defend multiple positions, and handle the ball.

What Might’ve Happened if he became a Grizzly:

Professional Fortnite player... but wow, Hart next to Conley last year, and him next to Ja Morant for the next decade...


Yes, the Memphis Grizzlies came away with Ivan Rabb and Dillon Brooks in draft-night trades here. The former is skillful and can be a useful bench big, while the latter could be a fringe starter / really good 7th man.

However, this draft goes to show you that you should never attach a pick in a salary dump — unless you’re actually getting a good player. The Grizzlies made such a move to save money, and it cost them a valuable piece for the future.

I don’t imagine any of these players messing up the Grizzlies tanking fest in 2018, so just think about adding any of these players mentioned above next to Jaren Jackson Jr — and maybe even Ja Morant. That’s a phenomenal start to a rebuild for a team that didn’t really commit to one until this summer.

Too bad we have to deal with one more pick going to another team, where we’ll probably be doing “what might have been” on Jalen Green.

Follow @sbngrizzlies.