Chip Shots: Thoughts on the Draft

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I’m not going to predict the future of the Grizzlies draft picks because honestly I don’t know. I haven’t watched college basketball and I don’t know what the Grizzlies front office is hoping to get from them. I will write about some thoughts I had during the draft however.

First, I was very surprised the Grizzlies picked up two players in the 2nd round. Why? Simple, there aren’t an unlimited number of roster spots available. 15 players is all you get (plus the two 2 way contract players but 2nd round picks won’t sign those deals). The Grizzlies currently have Wade Baldwin, Mike Conley, Troy Daniels, Deyonta Davis, James Ennis, Marc Gasol, Andrew Harrison, Jarell Martin, Chandler Parsons, Wayne Selden and Brandan Wright under contract for next season. Add in two more rookie contracts with Rabb and Brooks and the Grizzlies are at 13 contract players. Toss Rade Zagoric, the unsigned 2nd round pick from last year’s draft and the Grizzlies are at 14.

So what happens to Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Vince Carter and JaMychal Green? The Grizzlies have offered Green their qualifying offer so they can match any offer he gets this summer but matching his offer would mean TA, Z-Bo and Vince are gone unless other moves are made.

Those other moves could include trading someone, Brandan Wright for example, and not getting a player back in return. That would require the team acquiring Wright to be under the cap. Or the team could trade multiple players for one player. That would free up space for another player but with the lowered cap level it would need to be a very cost-effective deal for the Grizzlies.

They’ve done this type of deal before. Everyone should remember the Maurice Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and the 2017 first round pick for Jon Leuer deal after all.

It will be interesting to see what happens to some of the most popular players from last year’s team. However, making basketball decisions often results in painful moves like these. The bottom line, as has been mentioned by numerous posters on the Grizzlies message board, is this team will be successful or fail based on 3 players: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Chandler Parsons. Everyone else has to play their roles supporting these players.

Sure Wade Baldwin and Andrew Harrison need to improve, James Ennis and Wayne Selden need to step up and someone needs to find consistent production along with Marc Gasol but their performances won’t ultimately decide the success of the team this coming season. It is simple fact that if Conley, Gasol and Parsons don’t play well the team will struggle and if they do the team will succeed.

Which brings us back to the draft. If Randolph isn’t resigned and Green is, the Grizzlies front line will be Gasol and Green with Brandan Wright, Jarell Martin, Deyonta Davis and Ivan Rabb. Who will pick up the slack Randolph’s absence will leave?

With Tony Allen gone, spacing should improve but will the Grizzlies wings be able to score as much as they surrender without Allen slowing the oppositions best offense threat? Reasons and Selden will likely be the starters. Wayne Selden showed some promise but has a long way to go. Daniels is a one-dimensional player. Ennis shows flashes of solid play but isn’t reliable every night yet. Rade is a blank slate coming over from Europe. Brooks could actually compete for a starting role by year-end if Selden doesn’t continue to improve.

That is a huge area of concern for the Grizzlies before you factor in the question of Parsons returning to his previous level of play. If he fails to reach that level, the Grizzlies wing play could be the weak link that brings down the franchise’s playoff run.

That’s not a criticism of the draft however. I believe Wallace did about as well as he could considering he had no draft picks coming into this draft thanks to Jason Levien’s trade with Cleveland. Wallace didn’t trade away the pick. It is important to remember that when evaluating what the front office did yesterday.

Rabb is a classic Wallace draft pick. Highly rated out of high school, lost attention in college despite playing well and then falling on draft night into Wallace’s hands.

Dillon Brooks was an outstanding college player who took (and made) big shots at clutch times last season. He’s not an athletic stud but he has a high basketball IQ who knows how to play basketball.

These are Wallace’s type of draft finds. They are great value picks (to use a term I understand well in my other life). They produce on the court at a higher level than their stats would suggest they are capable of doing. Wallace believe strongly in finding players who know how the game is played later in the draft.

The problem is this hasn’t worked a lot lately and people are not being unfair to question whether this is a smart policy moving forward. The game has changed over the last decade and what was a solid value strategy in the past may no longer work. The league is charging ahead with a momentum strategy (again referring back to my financial alter ego). They want players who can grow into players but who already have all the physical tools to be successful. The league is becoming faster, stronger and taller in other words and sometimes a great basketball mind may not be able to succeed against a great basketball talent.

Memphis’ picks are old school players not new school talents. Hopefully Wallace can figure out how to get the most out of them.

One final thought. Hats off to the Grizzlies opening up their draft room to the press. However I think the idea backfired this season. Without a first round pick and no apparent effort to move into the 1st round going on, the reporters were basically tweeting out how bored they were. Not exactly the message you want to blast out to your fan base when they are searching for a reason to believe this isn’t the beginning of the end for the franchise.

I applaud the team for finally letting us get a look into what happens during a draft. Too bad they waited so long before doing something worth reporting on.

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