Luckily for the Memphis Grizzlies, the 2020 NBA Draft is not a pivotal moment for the franchise. By virtue of picking Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke with their last three first-round picks, they have their core in place. Trading for Justise Winslow, in theory, gives them another player to build around.
From here on out, Memphis’ strategy should be about build around its nucleus as smartly as it possible can. The needs are clear too: shooting, wing defense, maybe some secondary creation.
There are already in-house pieces to like — namely De’Antony Melton and John Konchar, assuming both re-sign in restricted free agency — and not a ton of money to spend in free agency. Their one avenue to spend is the mid-level exception, worth about $9.2 million. It’s unclear what kind of player that could net in a weak free agency class, though.
Which brings us to the draft. Memphis only has the 40th overall pick. (It’s first-round pick would have been No. 14 overall, but belongs to the Celtics via the 2015 Jeff Green trade. Big yikes.) Hit rates in the second round are lower, but having a pick is better than nothing. There’s also much less financial liability if the pick doesn’t work out.
Here are a few names to watch.
Elijah Hughes, guard, Syracuse
Hughes is a 6’6”, 215-pound wing. That’s ideal size for a wing and the kind of player Memphis needs more of as it tries to fill in the spaces between Morant at the one Jackson Jr. at the five. Even if he’s a second-round talent, he’s got the frame to be considered for a flier in the second round.
Hughes has skill on and off-ball, with the latter mattering much more because of how so much of the offense runs through Morant. So if his on-ball creation doesn’t translate, to the NBA, it’s probably not a deal breaker. The biggest concern is probably his defense considering he’ll be moving from a zone at Syracuse to primarily man defense at the NBA level.
Other things in this range to look at could be Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe and TCU’s Desmond Bane.
Yoeli Childs, forward, BYU
The Grizzlies had a ton of success in taking Clarke, a highly productive college player who slid down draft boards because of a perceived lack of potential, in 2019. So why not try it again with Childs, a 22-year-old four-year product out of BYU? The Grizzlies actually interviewed him last year when he tested the draft waters before returning to school.
Now, does Childs fill a need? Not necessarily. But he provides depth at the four and the five, can shoot three-pointers and sets good screens. There’s definitely a roll for him.
One other consideration: Memphis already has a pick-and-pop prospect in Jontay Porter. Would it want to add another?
Xavier Tillman, C, Michigan State
Center is not at all a need for the Grizzlies. Not only do they have Clarke, but Jackson Jr.’s best future probably involves time at the five with a ton of shooting around him. (You can also quibble with which of Jackson Jr. and Clarke is playing center when they share the floor.) Jonas Valanciunas is also under contract for two more years and is a solid veteran center who can rebound and run pick-and-roll.
But let’s say there’s not a wing the Grizzlies like when they pick. Tillman could make sense as a cost-effective big man who maybe could play right away or at least play if needed. It’s not a great pick, but there’s some logic to it.
Source: Forbes – Business