The NBA Draft is this Thursday, and with the news that the Memphis Grizzlies are interested in buying a draft pick in the first round, the NBA Draft has suddenly become much more interesting for Grizzlies fans. Memphis has three late second-round picks, but those picks hardly offer the appeal a first-round pick does and are much more of a crapshoot.
Instead, Grizzlies fans can now ask themselves the question: which player might their Grizzlies draft in the first round?
It’ll depend heavily on which pick they get, of course. The source article that reported the Grizzlies’ interest in buying into the first round named three lottery picks, and while the fourth overall pick is likely to be out of the Grizzlies’ price range, it’s possible that they could get one of the three late lottery picks: Minnesota’s #9, Portland’s #10, or Dallas’ #13.
The 13th overall pick in particular might be obtainable for Memphis, as Dallas is looking to clear cap space in advance of their pursuit of free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. The Grizz can offer second-round picks, which don’t come with a guaranteed contract tied to them unlike a first round pick.
If the Grizzlies can get a late lottery pick, they could target Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope is a perimeter scorer who gives the Grizz a much needed presence from beyond the arc. He primarily scores through jumpers, and averaged 18.5 points per game last year while making 2.6 threes per game. Interestingly, more than half of his field goal attempts per game were three-pointers (7.0 triples attempted per game, compared to 6.4 two-point shots), and he drilled those threes at a 37.7% mark.
While much of KCP’s offensive game is raw outside of shooting the ball, just that alone would benefit Memphis greatly as they have a significant need for reliable outside shooters. He would fit in nicely on the bench behind Tony Allen (barring the unlikely scenario of him leaving as a free agent), and give the Grizz a different look they can go to from Allen. If Caldwell-Pope were unavailable, another target might be Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, a smaller guard than Caldwell-Pope but another perimeter scorer.
Even if Memphis can’t snag a lottery pick, they may still be able to get one in the late teens. The Atlanta Hawks, with picks 17 and 18, are gearing up a run at Dwight Howard and Chris Paul of their own. A similar package to what the Grizzlies could have offered the Mavs could appeal to the Hawks, or some other team picking around them.
Picking after the lottery means Caldwell-Pope is likely gone, and McCollum too. This is a point in the draft where guards and shooters become a little more scarce, and big men a little more enticing to take. The Grizzlies picked up Ed Davis last year and still have Darrell Arthur, but both are relatively undersized for big men and the Grizz might want some young size to develop on their roster.
Mason Plumlee, the 7-footer out of Duke, sounds like a nice fit. He’s a fundamentally sound big man and does many things well, though nothing excellently. Plumlee is an efficient scorer in the paint, a decent low-post defender, and a solid rebounder. He also offers pretty good mobility and strength, and his skills seem to match nicely with those of the other big men on the Grizzlies. Plumlee aside, other options could include Louisville center Gorgui Dieng or North Carolina small forward Reggie Bullock, if they wanted a shooter.
Finally, Memphis could end up with a pick in the late stages of the first round. Many of the playoff teams picking after #20, and especially around #25 or later, might be interested in saving some money through dealing away their first round pick for future picks or cash considerations. This could include the Los Angeles Clippers, picking 25th overall, or the Brooklyn Nets at 22.
At that point in the draft, shooters become much more prevalent and much easier to take, with less prospects of other positions or skillsets that are noticeably better options. Names include California guard Allen Crabbe, New Mexico wing Tony Snell, and wing Glen Rice of the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers (who was kicked out of Georgia Tech without declaring for the NBA Draft over an year ago).
All three of these players identify primarily as three-point shooters. At the end of the first round, they might not the same level of player as Caldwell-Pope or even Plumlee, but they can serve a specific purpose for Memphis through their shooting and make a move in to the first round worth it.
This draft is largely viewed as a weak draft, but plenty of solid prospects remain throughout the first round. Trading up for a first round pick wouldn’t be a bad move at all for the Grizzlies, considering they have the assets to make a move in their three second-round picks and the dough they saved in the Rudy Gay trade.
With the draft just a little more than three days away, the time to make a move is quickly running out. Will the Grizzlies move in to the first round?