This was going to be the range for the Memphis Grizzlies. It would be fun to imagine any of these players in Beale Street Blue, but the Grizzlies are going home run swinging at a higher pick.
And even then, some of the rumored targets fall in this tier in our consensus big board.
Where do these players fall? Would you like any of them as Grizzlies?
11) Jalen Johnson, 6’9” wing, Duke University
View Joe Mullinax’s profile on Johnson here.
Ben Hogan (10): Sure there are plenty of red flags that can justify sliding Johnson down your board, but sometimes you have to take a chance. To me, his talent and ceiling are reasons he should be taken in the lottery, or shortly after. He’s an athletic playmaker who is versatile on the defensive end. I don’t think he did himself any favors by leaving Duke early and transferring twice in his senior year in high school, but the talent is there. If he slides past 14, a team is going to end up with a steal.
Lauren Harvey (20): Beyond the character concerns, the inconsistency and proneness to turnovers is enough to put him outside of the lottery for me. He is one of the higher upside prospects in the range he is projected but too risky for me.
12) Keon Johnson, 6’4” guard, University of Tennessee
View Shawn Coleman’s profile on Johnson here.
Shawn Coleman (9): Keon Johnson’s athletic profile is off the charts and his defensive upside is elite. At his age, that is an incredible base to work with in a prospect. Though Johnson has offensive areas that require refinement, his ability to already create advantages through his athleticism is a highly encouraging trait.
EdMemphis (24): Keon Johnson is an explosive athlete who has shown he can become a good secondary ball handler in the mold of a playmaking-defender. He can certainly use some polish on his shooting and shot-creating moves to make him a more complete player. Younger prospect so more window for development.
13) Josh Giddey, 6’9” guard, Australia
View Brandon Abraham’s profile on Giddey here.
Ben Hogan (11): A tall ball-handler that can give the team who drafts him an immediate advantage on the floor. He’s a magician passing the ball and he’s only 18 years old. He needs to get better at both shooting and defense, but he is already better than many pros when it comes to ball handling and passing the ball. If you take Giddey, you are taking him on upside, which I’m buying.
Shawn Coleman (19): I certainly understand that potentially elite playmakers with the size of the wing are highly valuable. However, Josh Giddey seems to be more of a boom or bust prospect than most in the lottery. I am not sure the shooting or defense translate in the NBA.
14) Franz Wagner, 6’11” wing/big, University of Michigan
View Ben Hogan’s profile on Wagner here.
Joe Mullinax (8): Who wants a Chandler Parsons do-over? Anyone? Too soon to make that joke? In all seriousness Wagner recently claimed that he is now 6’11” and if that is indeed true (seems hard to lie about) then his value just went even higher. He’s a versatile defender who can defend both forward spots and won’t get lost on switches. He thrives on the margins, filling voids in terms of protecting the ball, generating blocks and steals, and facilitating offense at and above the break. He’s a Jack of all trades, and while he is not the type that many want as a creator off the dribble offensively he checks so many boxes on both ends of the floor that he would be a very good option for Memphis now that they’re at #10.
EdMemphis (25): Franz Wagner didn’t impress me much at Michigan. He’s not athletic enough and not great, or even very good at anything. He has good size for the wing but can he truly defend most NBA forwards? I have my doubts. Second round value.
15) Alperen Sengun, 6’9” big, Turkey
View Jesse Cinquini’s profile on Sengun here.
Brandon Abraham (11): I’m a sucker for old school big men and Sengun is just that. He flashes an array of post moves to get good looks at the basket, while also being an able and willing passer out of the post. Whoever drafts him will have to work on his shot so he can space the floor more, but his ability to be a problem in the post should make him a solid player in the NBA.
Justin Lewis (23): A 6’9 center that doesn’t project well as a defender? Forgive me for the flashbacks from JV getting torched in the playoffs. If I’m forced to pick between a big that can score or one that is versatile on D, give me the defender. Sengun is a creative guy on offense but not for the lottery.
16) Kai Jones, 6’11” big, University of Texas
View my profile on Jones here.
Parker Fleming (9): Outside of Evan Mobley, Kai Jones has the highest upside of any big man. He can run the floor like an Olympic track star, play out on the perimeter on both ends, and he’s a lob threat. There’s downside with him, but I’m betting on his upside here. It’s sky high.
Nathan Chester (18): Kai Jones has all the raw tools in the world to be great, but that’s just it. They’re raw tools. He’s a project worth taking on, but his floor is too low for me to comfortably take him in the lottery.
17) Sharife Cooper, 6’2” guard, Auburn University
EdMemphis (7): Sharife Cooper is a stud, and if he develops his shooting more, we’re talking about a future NBA star. He was extremely productive in a power five conference as a freshman, and despite teams game planning mostly on him. Sharife is another guy I already realize I under-ranked. He is a top-5 prospect.
Joe Mullinax (24): He has the understanding of the game necessary to be a solid contributor for the Grizzlies. And his three point shooting doesn’t really scare me because of his free throw percentage. I just think that, while he has skills that fit Memphis, that there are others that combine need with talent better. Besides, his frame creates concern regarding what he can do as both a finisher and a switchable defender. Can he play alongside Ja Morant at all? What does Memphis do with another 6’4”-ish combo guard? Too many questions for me with the answers not generating much energy toward getting the Grizzlies better.
18) Cameron Thomas, 6’4” guard, LSU
View Ben Hogan’s profile on Thomas here.
Nathan Chester (13): Cam Thomas is an electrifying 3-level scorer who game should translate well to the pace and space NBA. There may be questions about other areas of his game, but when you can score like he can, it ultimately doesn’t matter.
Brandon Abraham (27): Cam Thomas can get a bucket, but that’s about it. He may be one of the best scorers in this draft, but he does almost nothing else. A team will certainly value his scoring, and his ability to come off the bench and light up the scoreboard, but in this range I value players who can do more than get theirs.
19) Trey Murphy III, 6’9” wing, University of Virginia
Justin Lewis (14): SHOCKED I am the highest on a 6’8 wing that can defend and spread the floor. He’s the prototypical NBA wing that will go in the lottery.
Lauren Harvey (35): Murphy has a sweet stroke from three, but he cannot create for himself at all and is limited to catch and shoot opportunities. He also lacks the ability to create for others and when you add those two together, he is too limited a prospect for me to put higher than the very late first round.
20) Jaden Springer, 6’4” guard, University of Tennessee
View Shawn’s profile on Springer here.
Shawn Coleman (15): Despite being one of the youngest picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, Jaden Springer feels like one of the more certain upside swings due to his two-way potential. Springer’s potential as an elite defender, playmaker, and shooter all stand out as the all-around talent teams covet. Plus, with his athletic profile, there is significant upside across the board.
Nathan Chester (27): Springer doesn’t really excel at anything, with the caveat that he’s very good defensively, and I have significant questions about his shooting ability. To me, he’s one of the more uninspiring 19-year-olds just because I think his overalls upside is relatively low.
Could any of these players end up Grizzlies on draft night?