Over the past few weeks at Grizzly Bear Blues, we’ve covered about 12 prospects, including sure-fire’s such as Ja Morant and possible picks with a Mike Conley trade (Cam Reddish or Brandon Clarke). With the 2nd overall pick, and its best player on the trade market, the Memphis Grizzlies are in a phenomenal spot to move towards the future and expedite the rebuild process.
A Mike Conley trade could give the Grizzlies another pick between 6 and 23, which — even in a “top-heavy” draft — could net them a solid complimentary player next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and (likely) Ja Morant. It presents the opportunity to swing for the fences with little risk, or to find a safe bet to further solidify its future core.
GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax mentioned some of these dark horse prospects in a potential Conley trade, and Senior Staff Writer and Co-Host of the Core 4 Nathan Chester and I talked about some players in this scenario as well.
Who are some other prospects the Grizzlies could target in a potential Mike Conley trade?
Matisse Thybulle, wing, University of Washington
Matisse Thybulle is perhaps the best perimeter defender in the draft. He’s coming off a terrific senior season at Washington, where he averaged 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks — that’s insane. At 6’5” with a 7’0” wingspan, he projects as a multi-positional defender, making him a valuable switcher on that end. He’s also does really well cutting to the basket, which is enticing next to a great passer like Ja Morant.
Thybulle’s 3-point percentage (30.5%) last season is worrisome, but he also shot 36.6, 40.5, and 36.5 percent from deep his previous three years. If he can be a reliable 3-point shooter, he can be an elite role player. He also needs to sharpen his offense and improve his shot mechanics, his interior finishing, and overall aggression.
A trio of Jaren Jackson Jr., (likely) Ja Morant, and Matisse Thybulle would be one of the most tantalizing young trios in the league. He doesn’t command the ball to be effective, which makes him a nice compliment to Morant. At worst, he’s a defensive specialist, and as we’ve seen with a certain Grizzlies legend, you can still carve out a great career as one. He’d be a great target, if the Grizzlies traded with someone like Boston or Utah.
Tyler Herro, guard, University of Kentucky
Tyler Herro has established himself as one of the premier shooters in this draft class. Though his 3-point percentage (35.5%) isn’t encouraging, he has smooth, textbook mechanics. In a NBA offense with more spacing, and with Herro garnering less attention, he could quickly one of the best young shooters in the league.
Herro’s not just a shooter though, as he’s flashed promise as a creator with the ball in his hands and as an average defender. He did get burned against Auburn, but he held Fletcher Magee — one of college basketball’s most prolific shooters and scorer — to 8 points and 0-12 shooting from 3.
Even though Herro has shown promise as a defender at the next level, his length (6’6” with a 6’3” wingspan), his size, and lack of speed hurt him defensively at the next level. In addition, his first step isn’t good, which minimizes his ability to finish in the paint. If he can’t get by opponents or play average defense, Herro will have a difficult time staying on the court.
Romeo Langford and Kevin Porter Jr. are the more talented 2-guards in this range, but I love Tyler Herro’s fit in Memphis. Herro slots a lot better in the back court next to Ja Morant, as he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective and is a superior off-ball player to Langford and Porter. I’m already dreaming of Morant in the dribble drive, finding Herro for open 3-pointers. If he can improve on his defense and creation off the dribble, he could be a steal in the middle of the draft.
PJ Washington, big, University of Kentucky
PJ Washington was, by far, Kentucky’s most valuable player this past season. He really was the Wildcats main source of offense, as he emerged as a solid go-to scorer and a great playmaker, averaging 15.2 points and 1.8 assists. With his size (6’8” with a 7’2” wingspan), he can guard and play either big position. In addition, he flashes promise as a floor-spacer, as he shot 42.3 percent from deep on 2.2 attempts per game.
Washington’s floor is one of the highest in the draft, but he’s not much of an upside pick. He’s not a versatile scorer, as he lacks any sort of post move. He also has to improve in the pick-and-roll — a staple in today’s NBA — as he struggles as a finisher in traffic. His size doesn’t make him much of a rim protector, which emphasizes the importance for him to become a switchable defender.
Washington could slot in as the 4 whenever the Grizzlies move Jackson to the 5. If he becomes a consistent outside shooter and a better switching defender, the Grizzlies would have a dynamic 4-5 combo with him and Jackson.
Any of these three prospects would be more safe bets for the Memphis Grizzlies, though Herro and Thybulle have a much lower floor than Washington, due to the possibility of them becoming specialists at the next level. However, all these players have varying skillsets that could be impactful next to Jackson and Morant.
What do you think? Who do you prefer? Vote in the poll and comment below.
Which prospect would you want the Grizzlies to pick through a potential post-lottery Mike Conley trade?
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