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What Might Have Been: 2018 NBA Draft

This was a good one.

NBA: Sacramento Kings 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 conclude this “What Might Have Been” series with the 2018 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.

I’m ditching the format here, because nothing went wrong here. It was absolutely perfect.

After its worst season in a decade, the Memphis Grizzlies were entering a pivotal time into this draft. Nailing the pick and acquiring an immediate contributor bolstered the Grizzlies chances of returning to the playoffs, as Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and a good young player seemed like a good playoff recipe. In addition, this player would be the future face of the franchise in the post-Gasol/Conley era.

No pressure, right?

Jaren Jackson Jr. has filled both roles brilliantly. Coming into the draft, he was seen as a project, a player that probably wouldn’t show his true ranking among his peers until his second or third year. Instead, he established himself as one of the better rookies last season and displayed astronomical upside.

His two-way promise is mesmerizing, and it’s so cool to have a young player garnering Hall-of-Fame comparisons.

His offense is already so refined, with potential for even more growth. He can take smaller and bigger players off the dribble, bully opposing bigs in the post, and hit a step-back, off-the-dribble 3 in someone’s face.

Defensively, he’s like a baby deer. Though Jackson found himself in foul trouble often, you saw the flashes of his defensive excellence, and it was beautiful. He swats shots with either hand at a high volume, uses his pterodactyl wingspan to harass smaller player in switches, and it’s all so glorious for today’s NBA.

Off the court, his personality is infectious, and he seems like a guy that Memphis could rally around and that could even make the Grizzlies mainstream.

Like seriously, you couldn’t go wrong here.

Sure, there are arguments. The only rookies better than Jackson last year were Luka Doncic and Trae Young.

If the Luka-Trae trade never went down, the Hawks might’ve picked Jackson, who was all over their mocks prior to the draft. In the process, the Grizzlies could’ve had Luka Doncic. He’s an amazing talent, and he put up historic numbers this past season. I just don’t think he would’ve had a 21-8-6 season in Memphis. For one, he would’ve had to take a backseat to Gasol and Conley, like Jackson. In addition, we would’ve complained about JB Bickerstaff using Garrett Temple in crunchtime over Doncic.

With Young, he would’ve been an exciting pick, but he also would’ve been relegated to a 6th man role. It might’ve pushed a Conley trade quicker, but it also could’ve brought it a worse package than they’ll probably get now.

In the end though, it doesn’t matter. Jaren Jackson Jr. was the absolute right pick at the time, and he’s proven why this past season. He’s going to be a star on the court and an excellent ambassador for Memphis off it. Be thankful, Memphis fans. That’s super flippin’ cool.

Thanks for riding with me for this “What Might Have Been” series. I know it’s agonizing to look back at what the Grizzlies missed on and what might have been with other players. However, in a different situation, that player’s career trajectory might not be the same.

Let’s grind forth. Jaren Jackson Jr. and (probably) Ja Morant are about to be on the same team. So, put aside any negativity about the Grizzlies’ draft history, and enjoy the ride to where these two young stars could take the Memphis Grizzlies.

Follow @sbngrizzlies.