I love it when a plan comes together.
In case you’re just joining us, here’s the deal. Every year before the NBA Draft we here at Grizzly Bear Blues put on a mock draft of epic proportions. This isn’t your granddaddy’s mock draft - there are trades (lots of them, as you’re about to see) that have to be approved unanimously by our trade panel (former GBBer/current Patreon page owner Matt Hrdlicka, NBA Twitter hero Sagar Trika, and Peter Edmiston of Sports56 WHBQ in Memphis and The Athletic) - and also all thirty teams are represented by a collection of GBB contributors, GBB community members/readers/Twitter followers, and members of the Memphis media.
Here’s where we stand twelve picks in-
- New Orleans Pelicans - Zion Williamson, forward, Duke University
- Memphis Grizzlies - Ja Morant, guard, Murray State University
- Atlanta Hawks (via New York) - RJ Barrett, wing, Duke University
- New York Knicks (via Atlanta via LA Lakers) - Jarrett Culver, wing, Texas Tech
- Houston Rockets (via Cleveland) - De’Andre Hunter, wing, Virginia
- Phoenix Suns - Darius Garland, guard, Vanderbilt
- Memphis Grizzlies (via Chicago Bulls) - Cam Reddish, wing, Duke
- L.A. Lakers (via Atlanta Hawks) - Bol Bol, center, Oregon
- Washington Wizards - Bruno Fernando, center, Maryland
- L.A. Lakers (via Atlanta Hawks) - Tyler Herro, guard, Kentucky
- Minnesota Timberwolves - Coby White, guard, North Carolina
- Utah Jazz (via Charlotte) - Rui Hachimura, forward, Gonzaga
With the selections of Fernando, Herro, and Hachimura perhaps ahead of where they were “supposed to go”, I saw my moment of opportunity.
And I struck. With two trades.
The first one was part of a larger deal involving one Anthony Davis. The Celtics were able to nab AD, but I jumped in to add a certain...potential...to the mix.
The New Orleans Pelicans (and mock GM Brandon Abraham of GBB) receive: Jayson Tatum, Aron Baynes, Marcus Smart, the rights to Cam Reddish, the 2020 1st round Memphis pick (top-6 protected, unprotected 2021 if not conveyed), 2020 top-10 protected pick from BOS, 2022 unprotected from BOS.
The Boston Celtics (and mock GM Parker Fleming of GBB) receive: Anthony Davis
The Memphis Grizzlies (and mock GM me) receive: #14 and #22 overall in the 2019 GBB Community Mock NBA Draft.
Why do the Pelicans do this? Brandon discusses that here-
Boston clearly had the best package for Anthony Davis, especially after the Lakers traded Brandon Ingram and #4 to the Hawks. Picking up a future All-Star in Tatum to pair alongside Zion sets the Pelicans up for success in a few years. Throw in Cam Reddish’s potential and I feel pretty confident in the young players I got so far. Getting 3 first round picks was nice as well, especially being able to get the 2020 Memphis pick (top 6 protected). The real gem could potentially be the 2022 Boston pick that could be in the forthcoming “double draft”. Regardless of what Boston looks like in a few years, that pick carries a ton of value. Finally, the addition of Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes brings toughness and competitiveness to the Pelicans for next season. Both should be valuable in the locker room and on the court. If the Pelicans fall out of contention early, both players would be nice trade chips, alongside Jrue Holiday, in a bigger rebuild.
Why does Boston do this? Parker explains-
Though, through the panel, it costs both arms, legs, your mortgage, your first-born son, and your life savings to trade for Anthony Davis, I managed to somehow also come out losing an arm, leg, and a some fingers and toes. It’ll hurt losing Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and a plethora of picks, but AD is much more valuable for our plan. He’s a transcendent superstar that can help overcome the Giannis’, Embiid’s, and Kawhi’s of the East. In addition, it gives Boston the best starting 5 in the league, as now I boast a starting unit of Kyrie Irving (assuming he stays)-Jaylen Brown-Gordon Hayward-AD-Al Horford. Pray that I can build a bench unit for this stellar starting 5 and the all-powerful Brad Stevens.”
Why does Memphis get involved? Because in no way, shape, or form did I want Cam Reddish to ever dress for the Grizzlies...and I needed multiple first round picks for the next part of my plan. 14 and 22 aren’t as meaningful for win-now Boston, and Reddish sweetened the NOLA pot.
You see, I never wanted to pick at #14 and #22.
I wanted #13...and someone else.
So after this trade, I called Miami.
The Miami Heat (and mock GM Nathan Chester) receive CJ Miles, Dillon Brooks, the #14 and #22 picks in the 2019 Mock Draft, and the Memphis 2020 2nd round pick (that I got back in the Chicago trade for Conley)
The Memphis Grizzlies (again, me) receive the #13 pick in the 2019 Mock Draft and Justise Winslow.
It is done.
My hope all along in this draft was to snag not just another star (hi Ja Morant) to play alongside Jaren. I wanted to establish a core around them.
Justise Winslow is one of the NBA’s most underrated young players (only 23) on one of the NBA’s best contracts ($13 million per year the next three years). He has shown real potential as a point forward, and has shot roughly 38% from three the last two seasons. At 6’7” 225 pounds he has a prototypical build for the modern NBA as a player that can play the 1-4 positions. That versatility, alongside Jaren and Ja, will be extremely valuable.
As will the versatility of this young man at #13.
With the 13th pick in the 2019 GBB Community Mock NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies select Brandon Clarke, forward, Gonzaga.
The player I have at #4 on my big board falls to 13, and I jump at the chance to bring him to Memphis. With this move, I now have arguably the most versatile and formidable young defensive front court in the NBA with Winslow, Clarke, and Jaren Jackson Jr. I don’t care about his wing span, or how old he is. The young man is a physical freak, and has shown through his transfer year and college career he is capable of improving as an offensive player. He is extremely efficient offensively, a force defensively on switches on the perimeter as well as at the rim, and you can argue no player in college basketball outside of perhaps Zion impacted his team’s ability to win than Clarke.
I don’t just have two young stars. I have a young core...a new Core Four.
Ja Morant. Jaren Jackson Jr. Justise Winslow. Brandon Clarke.
These guys can play together the next 7-8 years, if not more, and build up a culture of success that will hopefully last a long time. In addition, you could either trade Jonas Valanciunas after he opts in (assuming he opts in) or move him in to a bench role as a pseudo sixth man. The Grizzlies could use their mid-level exception on a shooting guard (see if J.J. Redick would come for 1 year at the full MLE, perhaps, or maybe go after Danny Green) and then next summer, when the Valanciunas/Parsons contracts come off the books, be a player for Jaylen Brown, Malik Beasley, or another restricted free agent shooting guard.
My goal was to build a new core. I believe I have succeeded.
Miami moves on from Winslow, which smarts, but gets a couple picks and also provide themselves a bit of cap relief both now and moving forward.
Here’s who they chose at #14-
With the 14th pick in the 2019 GBB Community Mock NBA Draft, the Miami Heat select Nassir Little, forward, North Carolina
Little is a player who could very likely be like Jaren Jackson Jr. was last season. The main critique of Little, who thrived before coming to college and was a presumptive top-5 pick heading in to the college season, simply did not live up to the hype at UNC. While it isn’t a perfect comparison - Jaren, despite his foul issues and lack of consistent playing time under Tom Izzo was still a top-5 pick - the idea is that Little could wind up being better than he was in college at the pro level simply because he will be in a different situation more suited to fit his skill set.
I know, people same the same thing about Cam Reddish. But Little’s mentality isn’t as questioned as Cam’s, and Nassir performed better in more areas than Reddish, especially analytically.
This is a solid pick for the Heat. Little could be Winslow’s replacement, but he could also be a bit more than that in his ability to also be an explosive rebounder as a smaller wing. That could hold value, especially on a rookie contract, as the Heat transition with their roster the next couple of season.
Today, though, is about the Grizzlies.
Today, I declare victory.
The 2019 GBB Community Mock NBA Draft rolls on!