Whether or not you were a fan of George W. Bush’s presidency, his ability to make up new words in public settings was unprecedented, so I applaud him for that.
First, we’ll look at Targetry. Here are a few players that I think the Grizzlies should target with their current second round selections (they have three of them at #41, #55, #60) and a couple of players that they might acquire a first round pick in order to select. Because end of the second round picks are usually unknowns who can be stashed overseas for a few years, expect plenty of international names. These are in no particular order. Two pairs of teammates start us off.
Adonis Thomas (F – Memphis) – If you’re from the Memphis area or follow college hoops closely at all, you know about Adonis already. He went from a surefire lottery pick prior to his freshman year to possibly not even being drafted this year (slight as that chance might be). A combination of injuries and uneven play led to this fall from grace. With that being said, he’s still a tremendous talent with an NBA body and his dropoff in production this past season was not a result of diminishing skills. He’s a bit short to play SF as a starter, but if he can improve his shooting range, he could certainly be a contributor off the bench.
D.J Stephens (G/F – Memphis) – While Thomas might have gotten a bad rap as being less productive than his physical tools, nobody doubts the effort that has gone into D.J. Stephens’ transforming himself from bench warmer to fan favorite. Athleticism — raw, unadulterated athleticism — and hustle are the two things that Stephens brings to the table every night. He’s also a born leader, which is a quality that is often underappreciated by fans, but rarely by coaches and front offices. To be clear, D.J. is the very definition of an unpolished project. His breathtaking athleticism is really the only thing that sets him apart from other prospects, but that might be enough to make a team like the Grizzlies (who will have the time to groom him) take a chance on him.
Seth Curry (G – Duke) – Steph’s little brother wound up at a higher profile school that his sibling, but wasn’t quite as prolific a college player. However, Curry is still an impressive shooter who has range comparable to most NBA guard prospects. Like his brother, he’s undersized to play SG at only 6’3″ in shoes, but he could be a combo guard like Jerryd Bayless if he’s in the right system, although he lacks JB’s athletic ability. He might be an interesting guy to pair with Tony Wroten in the backcourt though, where Curry could guard PGs while Wroten’s length and athleticism could be used on opposing SGs.
Ryan Kelly (F/C – Duke) – Some teams will likely be scared off by his injury issues as he recovers from surgery on his right foot, but there is no doubt that Kelly was an impressive part of the Blue Devils’ success the last two years. When he played, their record was significantly better than when he was not available. A 7-footer who has legitimate three-point range, Kelly has the opportunity to be a stretch 4 or even 5 with the right organization. His skillset might prove to be redundant if the coaching staff utilizes Jon Leuer in a similar way, but 7-footers who can shoot are a rare enough commodity to deserve giving him a look.
Livio Jean-Charles (F – International) – DraftExpress has the Grizzlies selecting LJC with their first pick currently. A ridiculously long forward with pterodactyl arms akin to Tayshaun Prince or Kevin Durant, Jean-Charles has shot up the draft boards since his appearance at the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this year. He’s not world-class athlete, but he possesses a high basketball IQ and is a guy who can grow into his frame to play either forward position capably. He might not even be available by the time the draft rolls around next week, so he could be someone the Grizzlies move up into the first round to select and then stash for another year or two overseas.
Nemaja Nedovic (G – International) – This is a player who has the physical tools to be a solid contributor in the right situation. A 6’4″ guard from Serbia, Nedovic rated as one of the very best athletes in Europe, including an impressive 41″ vertical leap. If you check out the highlight reel from his time at EuroCamp, you’ll see good ball-handling and the ability to explode to the rim. Unlike many European prospects, he’s not a fantastic shooter, so that will be something he has to work on in order to stick on an NBA roster, but as we’ve seen in the past — a player can be taught how to shoot.
Oleksandr Lypovyy (SF – International) – I saw the highlights of him at last year’s EuroCamp when he was considered more of a PG and instantly thought “poor man’s Kirilenko”. According to the scouting reports I’ve since then, that notion has only been strengthened, as they continue to laud his defensive ability and intensity, as well as his remarkable versatility. Standing 6’8″ now, he has the size and ability to guard multiple positions.
Mindaugas Kupsas (C – International) – A 7’1″ center who did not impress anyone who witnessed his jet-lagged performance in New Jersey last year, Kupsas entered the draft again this year in the hopes of getting better reviews this year. His stats rose from last year during his play in Lithuania, but he’s still not on most mock drafts. He could be a good prospect to leave overseas for another year or two to improve and then bring in as a quality backup.
Guys to move up for:
Rudy Gobert (C – International) – It might sound redundant to say that a 7’2″ center is long, but Gobert is lean and lanky. While the lack of junk in the trunk will undoubtedly result in him getting pushed around by the beefier frontcourt players in the NBA, it also assists him in getting out in transition and contributes to his ability to block shots at a very high clip. He’s currently projected to go in the latter stages of the first round, so the Grizzlies might be able to just buy a pick (similar to how they sold the rights to Dominique Jones to Dallas a few years ago) in a position to select him or work out a deal with a team in a likely position to take him.
Allen Crabbe (SG – California) – Someone say they needed a shooter? As the focal point of Cal’s offensive sets, Crabbe shot an reasonable percentage last year. When unguarded in catch-and-shoot situations — he was ridiculous. With legit SG size (over 6’6″) and deceptive quickness, Crabbe is the kind of player who can step in immediately and contribute offensively while he learns the ropes on the rest of the game.
Glen Rice, Jr. (G/F – D-League) – Some might be concerned about the question marks surrounding him after he was kicked off the Georgia Tech squad last year, leading Rice to join the D-League as a last resort. He has NBA size and athleticism, solid all-around skills, and he could potentially fill a need as a backup SF. Talent trumps questionable character if the productivity is there in most cases.
Mockeration = My completely off-the-cuff mock draft, which implies that I only slightly care about which team is in which spot. Read at your own risk.
Mock Draft Version 1.0 (Lottery Only)
1. Ben McLemore
2. Otto Porter
3. Alex Len
4. Nerlens Noel
5. Victor Oladipo
6. Cody Zeller
7. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
8. C.J. McCollum
9. Anthony Bennett
10. Mason Plumlee
11. Kelly Olynyk
12. Steven Adams
13. Trey Burke
14. Shane Larkin