WHAT: The 2022 NBA Draft
WHERE: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: ABC/ESPN
The Skinny: The Memphis Grizzlies have 3 draft picks — 22 (from Utah in Mike Conley deal), 29, and 47. Activity is expected and reported from the Memphis Grizzlies. They could go down any direction, in terms of positional archetype and prospect profile.
The NBA draft is finally here, and we’ll have new members of the Memphis Grizzlies organization by the end of the night.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, this draft seems pretty simple. Unlike 2018, 2019 and 2021, the Grizzlies aren’t expected to pick a franchise cornerstone in this draft. They need to continue to find players that fit this system and can be great complements alongside the core of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Desmond Bane.
Then there’s the free agency element of it. Do they try to replace Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson? A backup point guard has been a popular mock draft selection, but it could be just the rationale of Jones entering free agency, rather than any intel around it.
Anyways, after months of speculating scenarios and finding your desired draft prospects, it’s all about to come to fruition tonight. What do you need to know ahead of tonight’s draft?
What do we know
The intel has started to ramp up this week. Marc Stein reported on his Substack that the Memphis Grizzlies were interested in trading up to the 4th pick. Let’s get this out of the way now — it won’t happen.
On to more realistic bits of information...
On the trade front, it’s out there the Grizzlies want to move into the teen’s / late-lottery. The Grizzlies have been in talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers regarding the 14th pick, per HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo also reported that the Grizzlies want to move into the teen’s, and they’re dangling De’Anthony Melton in these offers. In Woo’s mock draft, he also mentioned the Grizzlies prefer to keep the 29th pick for the contractual value on it — and I agree with that logic.
There have been several players the Grizzlies have worked out in Memphis — credit to Stone Hansen, the co-host of the ‘Upside Swings’ NBA Draft podcast, for complying a list of known prospects to work out for each team. We only know of two prospects the Grizzlies have interest in. The Athletic’s John Hollinger reported he keeps hearing Dalen Terry and Wendell Moore tied to the Grizzlies. In addition, 92.9 ESPN’s John Martin reported Kennedy Chandler had a solo workout with the Grizzlies.
How high can the Grizzlies trade up?
The Memphis Grizzlies won’t trade up for 4. The Kings will likely ask for Desmond Bane or Jaren Jackson Jr., so it’s a no from me and probably every Grizzlies person out there.
Initially, I thought they could trade up to the 10th pick using Dillon Brooks or De’Anthony Melton. With the Wizards’ pursuit of a point guard (more specifically, Malcolm Brogdon), the possibility is evaporating.
The highest the Grizzlies could theoretically move up is the 11th pick. The Knicks are in the business of shedding salaries to open up room for Jalen Brunson, and the Grizzlies have the space to take in unwanted contracts. However, it’s looking murky. Alec Burks is having another offseason surgery on his foot. Nerlens Noel could be interesting, but I’m not too sold on Evan Fournier as a salary to take on. The guy at 11 might be worth it though.
Let’s get into more interesting, more likely propositions.
The Grizzlies have been in talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers around the 14th pick, though the momentum of any deal is unknown. It’s out there the Cavaliers want a win-now player and a future draft asset. The Grizzlies could put Melton, the 22nd pick, and a future 2nd in a package for the 14th pick, but the Cavaliers have no enticing players to add in any sort of offer.
Cedi Osman? No.
Kevin Love? Great comeback story! Clunky fit here.
One of my favorite possibilities is Charlotte at 15th. They want to offload Gordon Hayward’s contract in order to free up space to re-sign Miles Bridges. Once again, the Grizzlies have the space to do so. The Grizzlies can get there with Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton, but that’s sacrificing too much wing depth for Hayward. Could Adams/22 for Hayward/15 get the job done? Perhaps. Adding a player of Hayward’s caliber, on top of a top-15 pick, would be a huge win.
The lowest trade-up they could reach is 18th from Chicago. According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the Bulls have expressed interest in dealing their pick, as they’re not high on the players in this range. Coby White is a player mentioned in these deals, and the Grizzlies have shown the willingness to take fliers on floundering top-10 picks (see: Josh Jackson and Jarrett Culver). White is best than those 3 players. Could the Grizzlies do some sort of swap with Melton and 22 for White and 18? Melton is a better player right now, and the jump may not justify trading him, but it’s just a thought from piecing together known intel from these reports in this primer.
AJ Griffin Jr., Jalen Duren, Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, Ousmane Dieng and Mark Williams are prospects the Grizzlies could target in a trade up into the teen’s. I wouldn’t rule out them jumping up just a few spots to nab Dalen Terry, as Minnesota and Denver strike me as teams with interest in the rising guard out of Arizona.
Which direction do they go?
The Memphis Grizzlies have gone through two different draft philosophies. In Zach Kleiman’s first two drafts, aside from the obvious Ja Morant, he targeted the undervalued upperclassmen docked down the board for various silly reasons like age and wingspan — yielding a return of Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane, and Xavier Tillman. Last year, he went the other direction, trending towards unknown upside swings with the selections of Ziaire Williams and Santi Aldama.
It’s worked out thus far. Bane emerged as a cornerstone, Clarke has been a key piece off the bench since his arrival, and Williams flashed more upside and produced quicker than expected.
There’s trust in the front office to pick the right guy either direction, and in the coaching staff to develop the picks. So which direction could they down go? And who are some players to target in either direction?
If they went with the older college prospect, Wendell Moore seems like the most obvious pick for this route, as a “do-it-all” combo wing. Christian Braun fits a similar mold on the wing. E.J. Liddell or Jake LaRavia would be good forwards to target as well.
My preferred route for the 29th pick is an upside swing. They have 8 players of their 10-man rotation are under contract for next season, and that doesn’t include emergency role players like John Konchar and Xavier Tillman. They don’t need a rookie to play rotation minutes next season, so why not develop someone in the G-League to be ready for minutes after a possible consolidation deal. If the Grizzlies went down that route, I’d prefer a developmental 2-guard like Dalen Terry, Jaden Hardy, or Max Christie. If they want another big shooter, Caleb Houstan or Patrick Baldwin Jr. would be good picks as well. If they want an athletic forward, Kendall Brown or Josh Minott would be solid developmental prospects to target.
The Grizzlies could go either direction, and it’s paid off for them thus far. The unknown of which route they go down will be a slight thrill as the Grizzlies are on the clock.
Predictions on Draft Night
- The Memphis Grizzlies will trade-up ... for Dalen Terry. Terry is the only player that’s been linked to the Memphis Grizzlies, and he fits the billing as a big playmaking guard with defensive chops, blitzing transition play, and infectious energy. With the murky futures of Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson, why not “replace” them with someone that blends elements of both players? I know he’s been mocked to the Grizzlies at 22, but he’s someone that could take a spike on draft night. He has one of the highest upsides for any player outside the lottery; he might not be there at 22. Similar to what the Grizzlies did with Ziaire Williams, the Grizzlies will jump the line to make sure Dalen Terry is in Beale Street Blue.
- A rotation player will be traded... and the Grizzlies bring in another one... In the Grizzlies quest to move up, they’ll move on from a rotation player, and it’ll be De’Anthony Melton. In doing so, they’ll end up adding Coby White to the mix — a guard with less defense and rebounding, but more shot-creation upside. They’ll get their guy with the pick, while taking a flier on another young player before his restricted free agency in 2023.
- The Grizzlies will stay safe at 29. After upside swings in a trade-up — both with the pick and the players — the Grizzlies’ pick at 29 will be more safe. Get your headbands out, because they’ll be getting Jake LaRavia from Wake Forest. LaRavia doesn’t have this fascinating star upside, but he has the skillset to be a good role player that contributes to winning basketball. He should thrive in this infrastructure centered around versatility, playmaking, and defense.
- The Grizzlies will trade up in the second round to chase a player in the 30’s for a two-way deal... and get a Tiger in the process. The Grizzlies are using any potential second-round pick on a two-way deal, or on a draft-and-stash with an international player. They’ll look to take advantage of the two-way slot by trading up a bit in the second round from the 47th pick. They may try for Max Christie or Caleb Houstan, though they could have standard NBA deals on the table. They’ll ultimately end up with Josh Minott, a raw prospect that’s an elite athlete with a glue-guy skillset... and he’s a Memphis Tiger. The Grizzlies will get to develop him in the G-League, in hopes he eventually becomes a key part of the rotation by his 3rd season.
Stick with Grizzly Bear Blues for all draft coverage throughout the night. It should be a fun one.