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2022 GBB Community Mock NBA Draft: What the Grizzlies did

Time to put our GM caps on

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2022 NBA All-Star - G League Ignite v Cleveland Charge Photo by Emilee Chinn/NBAE via Getty Images

The GBB Community mock draft is always such a chaotic blast, and it’s a great way to bring the Grizzlies/Draft Twitter sphere together to put their GM hats on and make some decisions together. So thank you to the 29 other people that participated in this week’s festivities. Everyone did great.

Since this was my first community mock draft as Site Manager, I had the honor of being the Memphis Grizzlies in this exercise. My approach was pretty simple.

  • Don’t make multiple first-round picks. The Memphis Grizzlies are a contender, and they need to operate as such. They don’t need 2 rookies on the 15-man roster. There were several ways I could’ve gone about this route. I talked with fellow Twitter GMs about moving up in the draft, and about dealing one of those picks for veteran player. I ended up ecstatic with the result.
  • See what I could get for existing players. The two main players I put on the trade block were Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton. Brooks was hard to field offers for, as expected in a Grizzlies-centric community mock draft after a rough postseason outing. Then, I had some deals in place with Melton, but I rolled with a better trade that didn’t involve him.
  • Make that first pick an upside swing. When it comes to draft picks, the Grizzlies are playing with house money. If they wanted to take an upside swing, it’s gravy if it hits, but it doesn’t alter the trajectory otherwise.
  • Add a championship-level role player to the rotation. In operating as a contender, I wanted to acquire a bonafide rotation player that fits into a playoff rotation. With Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson entering free agency, I wanted some sort of insurance policy if either of them walked in July. This was definitely the most thrilling part of this mock draft experience.

Let’s dive into what transpired.

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The trades

One rule in the GBB Community Mock draft was that each team could only make one trade per round.

Before I go into what I did, I’ll share the other offers I had on the table.

  1. De’Anthony Melton, the 22nd pick, and a top-8 protected pick from the Warriors in 2024 to the Washington Wizards for Deni Advija and the 10th pick. This deal was probably at the goal line, but Washington had cold feet in dealing a top-10 pick. From there, I was looking to add a young forward with excellent defensive tools — while going up to 10th to get into the range for Dyson Daniels, AJ Griffin Jr., and Bennedict Mathurin.
  2. De’Anthony Melton, Killian Tillie, and the 29th pick to the Denver Nuggets for Will Barton. This deal would’ve been my first-round trade, if this other offer didn’t top it. Barton would’ve been the perfect bench bucket-getter for this unit.

But my first-round trade...

Trade #1: The Memphis Grizzlies trade Xavier Tillman, the 29th pick, and the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2024 second-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Cam Johnson.

This trade was polarizing on Twitter, as I gave up a 1st round pick and a free fan-favorite player for a 6th man. Let’s examine this further though.

I turned someone that wasn’t in the rotation for the majority of the season and a pick that probably would’ve yielded someone not in next year’s lineups either, into the 5th-best player on a 64-win team. And with Kyle Anderson entering free agency, I filled his backup forward/wing spot with more shooting and scoring pop — though a slight drop-off in defense and in playmaking.

Cam Johnson is one of the league’s best shooters. Last season, he averaged 12.5 points and shot 42.5% from 3 on 5.9 attempts per game. The only other players this past season that shot at least 42% from 3 on at least 5.5 attempts were Johnson, Seth Curry, Luke Kennard and Desmond Bane.

So now the Grizzlies have two of those players. All for a 12th man and a very late first round pick. That rocks.

Going into next season, the Memphis Grizzlies will have a closing lineup of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr., then one of Johnson, Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, De’Anthony Melton, and Ziaire Williams. That’s a championship-level 9-man rotation.

Further out, people will be skeptical about Cam Johnson, because he’s due for an extension and will enter restricted free agency. I didn’t worry about it for this exercise; it’s all about winning a championship next season.

It feels like this move bolstered those chances just a wee bit.

Second-round trade: Memphis Grizzlies trade the 47th pick and a 2025 second-round pick from New Orleans Pelicans to the Portland Trail Blazers for the 36th pick.

This pick was more about moving up to a range where I could select from higher players on the board. I’m operating under the same assumption as the reports that any second-round pick will start their career on a two-way contract.

2022 NBA All-Star - Clorox Rising Stars Game Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Picks

In the mock draft, the Memphis Grizzlies made two picks — 22nd and 36th.

  • 22nd pick: Jaden Hardy, G-League Ignite. All about upside right here. Jaden Hardy came into this draft cycle as a potential top-5 pick, impressing draft analysts with his deep-range shot-creation. However, after an inefficient season with the G-League Ignite, he started to slip more into the 15-35 range. His scoring prowess hasn’t outweighed the subpar secondary skills (defense, passing, etc.) enough to warrant a lottery selection. At the 22nd pick, Hardy is a comfortable upside swing, betting on his shot-creation to pick back up and provide a spark off the bench. With De’Anthony Melton’s contract expiring in 2024, Hardy can ease into the NBA game before potentially stepping in as a scoring specialist off the bench — hopefully in similar vein to someone like Jordan Poole.
  • 36th pick, Max Christie, Michigan State. Disregarding the positional overlap, Max Christie felt like the right value pick here. Despite a tough shooting outing in his lone season at freshman season, his shooting mechanics and his off-ball movement should bode better for him with a smaller role. He has the tools to become a solid perimeter defender as well. With the Hustle on a two-way contract, he could tap into more of an on-ball role, while re-gaining his shooting touch from NBA range.

Perimeter-scoring prospects are always good ones to develop, especially one with off-ball potential. With Hardy and Christie, if either of them hit, the Grizzlies would have more complementary options alongside the Morant-Bane-Jackson core.

In this mock draft, a takeaway could be to provide the necessary amount of perimeter firepower and floor-spacing as much as possible in order to capitalize on the drive-pass-attack prowess of Ja Morant.

So in this fun exercise, I managed to come in with 3 perimeter players — 2 being 19-year old prospects, and the other entering his 4th season as an elite 3-point marksman — without giving up any of my top-8 players under contract.

That haul seems pretty great to me.

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