I didn’t plan on anything massive here, as the Memphis Grizzlies probably weren’t in the range for any of these guys.
BUT HERE WE ARE!
The Grizzlies are in the top-10, with an eye to keep moving up, and it leaves several of these prospects on the board — including several in this very range of the big board. Which of these players could end up on Beale Street on draft night?
1) Cade Cunningham, 6’8” guard, Oklahoma State University
Only 1 person did not have him as the 1st-round grade
Jesse Cinquini (1): Cunningham is the definitive number one overall pick. He’s a do-it-all offensive talent who can finish through contact at the rim and in the post. Not to mention he’s an excellent shooter from deep (40.0% on 5.7 attempts per game) who can drain shots off screens and in isolation, where he utilizes Jayson Tatum-like stepbacks. Cunningham is a criminally unheralded playmaker, too, who makes excellent reads off the dribble and in the pick and roll. It’s his defense that makes him the best player in the draft, though. Cunningham can be one of the better wing defenders in the NBA; his defensive IQ is off the charts, and he’s prone to make hustle plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
Justin Lewis (3): Perhaps the beneficiary of Jalen Green being a little off the radar in the G League, I think Cade is going to be great but has the third highest ceiling and that’s multiple time All-Star. Me being low on him is less about him and more about my belief in Green and Mobley.
2) Evan Mobley, 7’1” big, USC
Justin Lewis (1): In my opinion, he’s the hands down best prospect in this class. The unicorn title is too loosely given these days but Mobley truly defines it — a do-everything modern NBA big that will be All-NBA on both sides of the floor. It’s not a knock on Cade, just believe in Mobley that much.
Nathan Chester (4): Evan Mobley is a generational big prospect, and the only reason I have him slipping is because I question how impactful he’ll be offensively early in his career because of his frame. I think Suggs and Green will both be more immediately impactful.
3) Jalen Green, 6’5” guard, G-League Ignite
Brandon Abraham (2): Green shined under the lights of being the main attraction for the Ignite. Green wasn’t afraid of the moment and flashed his scoring prowess, while sprinkling in some solid defense and passing. He’ll need to work on some mental parts of the game as he matures, but Green is an explosive player who will have many highlights throughout his NBA career.
Ben Hogan (4): Honestly, I feel like there is a Top 4 in this draft, and then there’s everyone else. I have Green the lowest of those four, because when I watched Cunningham, Mobley, and Suggs this past season, they for the most part looked like the best player on the floor. I did not watch Green but through highlights, and yeah, he’s really good, and he’s going to be a star in the league, I just couldn’t put him above the other 3.
4) Jalen Suggs, 6’4” guard, Gonzaga University
Joe Mullinax (2): Yes, yes, I like Suggs better than Jalen Green or Evan Mobley. Why? He’s not afraid of the moment and I have seen him, on the grandest stages he has stepped on, thrive in the face of opportunity. That’s not to say Green’s scoring and dribble creation acumen or Mobley’s two-way potential don’t make them “worse”. This draft has a definitive top-4 in my mind, and then there’s a tier drop off. You can’t really go wrong with any of them. I just prefer the guy who I have seen thrive and attack with titles on the line. He’s the best guard prospect wise in Gonzaga history. He will set history as their best pro ever - yes, including John Stockton - as well.
Justin Lewis (8): Name me a guard from Gonzaga that’s been great in the NBA. Go ahead, I’ll wait (Site Manager’s note - John Stockton). Gonzaga has been a school of system dudes, with the exception of guys like Sabonis. Suggs had some thrilling moments, but I’m not convinced he’s a top 10 player in this draft 5 years from now.
5) Jonathan Kuminga, 6’8” wing, G-League Ignite
View Brandon’s profile on Kuminga here.
Brandon Abraham (5): Kuminga is a freak athlete and was an excellent sidekick to Green with the Ignite. He needs to improve on his 3-point shot, but Kuminga can attack the basket with ease and is crafty at creating his own shot. His size also gives him the potential to be an elite defender assuming an NBA coach can get him to lock in more on that side of the ball. Kuminga will need time to grow, but his untapped potential would be well worth the wait.
Lauren Harvey (7): The talent is there but Kuminga is too stagnant and predictable on offense for me. His feel for the game also is lacking, looking lost on defense way too much for my liking. His athleticism is ridiculous but I can’t justify a top 5 pick on him.
6) Scottie Barnes, 6’9” wing, Florida State University
View Joe Mullinax’s profile on Barnes here.
Lauren Harvey (5): An elite defensive prospect that can guard every position. He reminds me of De’Anthony Melton where at his best he makes an impact every time he is on the court. He needs to make strides on offense but I love the potential.
Nathan Chester (10): Scottie Barnes can be DPOY, but he’s going to be a difficult watch offensively early in his career, and I’m afraid it could make him borderline unplayable, which you don’t like to say about a top-10 pick.
7) Moses Moody, 6’6” wing, University of Arkansas
View my profile on Moody here.
Parker Fleming (5): Moses Moody will be a bonafide rotation player that impacts winning, no doubt on that. I do think there will be more to this game that we saw once he enters a NBA system with NBA spacing and playmaking. His elite pick-and-roll numbers also indicates strong creation upside.
Jesse Cinquini (17): Let me preface this by saying Moody will be a rock-solid NBA player. However, Moody projects to be a third or fourth scoring option at best in the NBA. He lacks an explosive first step and is better suited to be an opportunistic scorer who benefits from the attention stars receive from the defense. Moody is an excellent win-now option for a contending team but could go through growing pains if he lands with a rebuilding squad.
8) James Bouknight, 6’5” guard, University of Connecticut
View Bryce Hayes’ profile on Bouknight here.
Shawn Coleman (7): Bouknight is one of the best shot creators in this draft, a major area of need for many teams. He also has the ability to score at all three levels with the mentality to hit any shot he takes. That type of confidence is certainly a worthwhile target for Memphis.
EdMemphis (16): I must admit I’m not as high on James Bouknight as others, but he impresses me the more I research him. Reminds me of Jordan Clarkson as a microwave scorer who maybe a great 6th man. He can certainly be a good starter with more defensive and off ball development. Right now you’re drafting him in hopes he becomes Jordan Clarkson with what he is currently.
9) Davion Mitchell, 6’1” guard, Baylor University
View Brendan Smart’s profile on Mitchell here.
Joe Mullinax (6): What a competitor. Here’s a player who embodies the Grizzlies “standard”. He’s ready-made defensively, arguably one of the best defensive players in this entire class. He has remarkable change of direction speed and acceleration. Mitchell gets rave reviews from everyone that has ever coach him or played with him for his mental toughness and work ethic. He protects possessions and can score from range. He is certainly undersized and the fit with Memphis is questionable because of it. But I am not sure there’s a world where this guy fails.
Parker Fleming (19): I worry about his NBA outlook. He came out shorter than expected in the combine measurements, which is going to be interesting in his positional fit at the next level. While he did boom from 3 this year, his free throw shooting (65.7% his career, 64.1% last season) doesn’t bode well for his NBA 3-point translation either. He’s going to be a rock-solid role player — definitely worth taking top-20 in this draft — but I would be cautious taking him with a lottery pick. Can he be a dynamic live-dribble creator like he was in college, or is he destined to be an energetic defensive stopper? That’ll be fascinating to monitor... from afar.
10) Corey Kispert, 6’7” wing, Gonzaga University
View Nathan Chester’s profile on Kispert here.
Shawn Coleman (10): When it comes to the NBA, wings that can shoot are highly valuable. Wings with the potential to shoot with the best in the league and add value elsewhere are rare. Though Kispert may profile as a shooting specialist, I feel there is significant upside for Kispert to become much more.
Jesse Cinquini (15): Kispert has perhaps one of the highest floors of his class. An uber-efficient shooter from all three levels — as well as the free-throw line — he will almost certainly be a valuable role player. But he doesn’t scream future star to me, mainly because of his inability to defend guards/wings in space and generate scoring opportunities independently. Kispert doesn’t have the upside to warrant a top-ten selection.
And thank you to Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax), Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham), Nathan Chester (@NathanChester24), Shawn Coleman (@StatsSAC), Ben Hogan (@NotTheGolfer), Justin Lewis (@J_Timberfake_), Lauren Harvey (@DragicKingdom), EdMemphis (@EdMemphisPimpin), Jesse Cinquini (@CinquiniJesse) for participating in this wonderful draft exercise.
Now let’s see how everything turns out on draft night.