Good question. The Memphis Grizzlies own one pick in the upcoming 2014 draft. That pick being the 22nd in the first round.
There are still questions regarding what direction the team wants to go, and what they do in the draft should provide some answers. With the Grizzlies biggest needs easily being at both of the forward positions, they must address this problem either through the draft, free agency, or both. With Zach Randolph’s contract up in the air, and Ed Davis being a RFA, the current power forward situation consists of one player: Jon Leuer. No offense to Mr. Leuer, but that’s a terrifying prospect. The problem with Randolph’s contract is that he has until June 30th to accept or decline his player option. The draft however, is earlier, on June 26th. This pressures the Grizzlies front office to make a decision sooner rather than later. Bringing back either Z-Bo or Davis seems to be essential, but bringing in a free agent is an option too (i.e. Pau Gasol).
Small forward also needs to be addressed, if not this season, then most definitely next. Tayshaun Prince’s production is falling off quickly as he continues to age and he only has one year remaining on his contract. Prince’s $7 million contract coming off the books will free up some significant cap space, and being able to fill his role with a younger, cheaper player would be huge. A player that can shoot the three and defend the perimeter, things that Prince did very well earlier in his career, would a be valuable asset that fits in perfectly with the rest of the current roster.
So here we are. Plenty of needs and very few answers. As we know, one way the team can begin to address these issues is through the upcoming draft. That being said, let’s look at some potential prospects that could fill some holes on the Grizzlies roster:
I know, he’s probably gone by 22, but what a fantastic pick up he would be should he fall. A versatile small forward with a beautiful stroke, Hood would be perfect to help space the floor for Z-Bo and Gasol should the tandem stay together. Hood’s defense could definitely improve, but given a year he could easily take over starting SF for Tayshaun.
Anderson is an incredibly unique prospect given his skill set. He played point guard most of his last year at UCLA, but Anderson is huge for the position. At 6’9”, with a wing span at 7′-2”, Anderson’s ability to pass, handle and shoot are a rare commodity at his size. What position he would play at the NBA level remains to be seen, but a small forward with his skill set would be a great asset for the Grizz.
Cleanthony Early-Wichita State
I’m really intrigued by Early. He’s a little older at 23, and only stands at 6’7”. Despite these shortcomings he can play both the three and the four, and hit the three relatively well. A knock on him was that his stats were bloated by beating up on weaker teams while playing at Wichita State, but he stepped up big time in the tournament versus Kentucky. Cleanthony has a little Draymond Green in him, and that seems to be working out well for Golden State.
If Shabbaz were available, he would most likely be the best player on the board. If Memphis takes him, then they are clearly going for the best player available versus drafting for need. Mike Conley is firmly entrenched at point guard for the foreseeable future, but having a high potential reserve is never a bad thing.
Clint has been playing in France and is extremely athletic. He has a great knack for grabbing boards, and he shot 69% from the field last year. Yes, 69%. Most people couldn’t do that during practice. He does however need to embrace his skill set, as he shoots far too many jumpers and plays smaller than his size.
TJ Warren-NC State
Warren is a pure scorer, and guess what you need when your team is 27th in scoring? Scoring! If he could crack the rotation and put some points on the board then he would be a great addition. Improving his shooting mechanics and long range game will be essential for him at the NBA level.
Adreian Payne-Michigan State
Payne is a stretch four with great athleticism a 7’4” wingspan. He needs to add some bulk or he’s going to get bullied by bigger forwards. His IQ is relatively low compared to similar prospects, but he is one of the more polished players on the board.
Any of these players would potentially be a good fit for the Grizzlies. There are others that would work as well, but these are some that I feel would especially fit with the current roster. Hopefully adding a young forward will give Memphis a shot in the arm and add some much needed scoring, but we will have to wait and see what happens on draft night.