I am not a fan of buildingvia the draft.
I believe you can find your franchise player in the draft but you don’t then build withmore rookiesaround that player. Building thru the draft without getting that franchise player is a recipe for mediocrity at best and disaster at worst. Trying to build solely with rookies around a franchise player is also a great way to run that player out of town when his rookie deal is up. Look at Cleveland and the moves they made to keep LeBron.
I should also say thatI have lost some confidence in Chris Wallace’s ability to get the right guy. Not in his ability to identify the right guy. Just his ability to convince Heisley the guy he wants is the right man. It is my belief that if Heisley had listened to Wallace last year we wouldn’t have ended up with the players we did in the draft. The 2009draft may go down as the one where the Grizzlies missed a great opportunity.
Thabeet was not Wallace’s choice exactly. I think that goes without comment although no one in the front office has publicly said they were against the Thabeet pick. Heisley claimed that DeMarre Carroll was Wallace’s choice butCarroll was drafted because Heisley wanted to bring in defensive minded players in the draft. I don’t think Wallace ever felt he was the best player available at that pick but he was the guy who most reflected the demands Heisley made on the draft picks. Again this has never been said publicly but it is the impression given by people who have access to the inside information.
Sam Young fell in their laps buttheGrizzliesalso passed three times on DeJuan Blair who was Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East along with Thabeet. If defense was demanded why not take the player who along with Thabeet was considered one of the best defensive playersin college basketball?
Imagine the Grizzlies today if they had taken Tyreke Evans or Stephon Curry at #2, DeJuan Blair at 27 and Sam Young at 36. Those playersappeared to bethe best available whenMemphis drafted and the Grizzlies would be considered a great up and coming team if they had those players instead of Thabeet, Carroll and Young.
Iunderstand that onceMemphis picked Thabeet it would be tough to pair Blair with him but that meansthe Grizzliesmade the cardinal sin of drafting.They didn’t pick the best player available regardless of team needs. Last year the team repeatedly made a mistake by filling needs and not taking the best player.The teamcan’t make that mistake again. Sam Young was the only player they drafted that people felt was the best player available at that spot and he also turned out to be the best rookie on the team. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Nowthe Grizzlieshave three more 1st round picks this year.
The good news is that the draft is incredibly deep. 45+ underclassmen have already declared. Combine that with some international players and the seniors and the draft is loaded. Maybe we can make up for last year’s debacle this year especially if we get lucky in the lottery but what are the chances of that happening? .065% or something like that. Not exactly good odds.
So what should the Grizzlies do? I believe the team needs to trade at least one of the late picks. I don’t care if they sell if for cash or future picks or a veteran. I just don’t believe that three more rookies will benefit the team going forward. I also believe that the team should ignore what they have on the roster currently and simply draft the best player available right now with their first pick. Chris Wallace has proven himself adept at making deals. Who cares if the team has three centers because he can trade one of them. Who cares if Young, Brewer and Gay are natural SF’s? Moving one later shouldn’t be too difficult after all.
The bottom line is the Grizzlies have acquired all the assets they need to build a winning team. Now it’s time to move those assets to get the talent they need to build on the success of the past season. The Grizzlies had the worst scoring bench in the NBA last season. They weren’t even close to the 2nd worst bench. The Grizzlies bench averaged 20 ppg last year. The 2nd worst bench was the Clippers and they averaged 25.2 ppg.Part of this can be explained by the Grizzlies bench averaging the fewest minutes in the league but theyaveraged those minutes because they weren’t very good.
Adding three more rookiesisn’t going to change that situation very much, especiallyif the first pickis the 12th spot in the lottery (93% probablility).Only by bringingina veteran or twowho can score and teach the young benchplayershow toproduce off the bench are the Grizzlies going to makethe needed improvement needed to become an elite team.
Building by drafting alonedoesn’t work. You acquire assets like draft picks and young players. You use those assets to build a team. Memphis has acquired enough assets. Now is the time for team building.