The 2014 NBA draft is looking by each passing day to be a more interesting one than anyone could have imagined. Because this year’s draft consists of a race between three players for the first overall pick and a talented pool of players after them, this draft class has the potential to truly be outstanding. If a good chunk of the players live up the hype that their names are bringing towards the NBA, this year’s draft class could be seen in the future as one of the best draft classes in the history of the league. Because of this, teams are treating each draft pick with more care than they usually do, and it looks like it will be tougher for teams to be willing to trade their draft picks away, especially if they are in the lottery.
Unfortunately, the Memphis Grizzlies will not be able to enjoy the feast that is this year’s draft as much as other teams cam, as they will be drafting their one and only player in the first round of the draft: the 22nd overall pick. Their second round pick was given to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who then gave it to the Philadelphia 76ers. Because of this and the fact that they do not have a lot of money to spend during free agency, they have to make sure this pick will count. To do that best, the team will try to address its biggest need at the small forward position. However, if Zach Randolph leaves the Grizzlies through declining his player option on the last year of his contract, the Grizzlies will have a bigger need at the power forward position. Because of this, drafting at either position would be a draft pick well spent.
The following three things are what the Grizzlies are looking for most in a potential draftee. Each skill will also be associated with a player who very well could be drafted late in the first round with the pick the team has, just to give an idea of what kind of talent would still be around at that time that could fit the team’s needs.
The Grizzlies desperately need someone at the small forward position who can be considered an athlete by the NBA
standards. This means that the team needs someone who can do a little bit of everything statistically, as well as be able to move quickly and score well. Mike Conley is probably the closest player to come to mind for that role, but the team needs someone other than him that can truly do a little bit of everything each night.
K.J. McDaniels from Clemson fits this role perfectly. From the looks of things, a lot of people seem to expect McDaniels tobe drafted by the Grizzlies. Perhaps this is because he seems to not only be a natural fit for the team, but he also fills a couple of the needs the Grizzlies have. At 6’6’’, he is a little short for a small forward, but he has one of the most impressive wingspans in the draft, one that will make his height a non-issue. Because of his wingspan, he is also projected to be a better rebounder than most players at his position in this year’s draft, something that the Grizzlies could for sure use, and he is known to be an excellent shot blocker. He should also bring a lot offensively to whichever team drafts him, as he averaged 17.1 points per game last year for Clemson. This is the type of player that the Grizzlies have needed for the past couple of years, and if Randolph stays in Memphis, someone with the athleticism like McDaniels has would complement the team nicely.
The Grizzlies are one of the best teams on defense, so it may be odd to draft another player mainly to contribute defensively. However, the one position that the team has no defensive presence from is the power forward position. Randolph is not a very good defender, nor is Ed Davis, Randolph’s usual backup. It the situation presents itself, the Grizzlies should still be willing to consider someone who can be a defensive anchor, as even an incomplete offense can be made up for with a complete defense.
Clint Capela, a 6’11’’ 20-year-old from Switzerland playing in France, could fit this bill. He is tall, lanky, and, like many players on this list, has a great wingspan. He already has some offensive tools, but because of his build, he has the potential to be an ace defender. He can even play center if needed, taking some pressure off of Marc Gasol. The only problem with drafting a player who is expected to do more on defense during his NBA career than on offense is that it still ignores the team’s biggest need for a pure scorer.
The Grizzlies don’t have that many great shooters on the team. Most of the players are able to make mid range shots, but
it’s to varying degrees, and only a couple of the players can consistently make a shot from beyond the arc. Another player that can make a mid range or three-point shot would be great for the Grizzlies, especially if he was on the taller endof the spectrum. Basically, the Grizzlies could desperately use a pure scorer at either of the forward positions, especially if Randolph leaves.
This role would be best filled by a stretch forward, and one player that could be around when the Grizzlies are on the clock is Adreian Payne from Michigan State. At 6’10’’, Payne was able to score 43% from beyond the arc during his senior year. He only becomes more accurate closer to the basket, although his weak frame has been a concern for many people. However, he is considered the type of player who can fill a hole that a team has immediately, and the Grizzlies, who may only be able to be competitive for a title for the next couple of years, desperately could use a solid scorer from the power forward position if Randolph leaves. There will also be multiple players who can shoot well as small forwards around late in the first round, as well, so the Grizzlies can fill their need there if push comes to shove.