With the college season over and the NBA season winding down, it's time again to start focusing on the draft. Like last season, I'm going to do multiple installments of my Grizzlies draft board following each step in the process: the lottery selection, the pre-draft combine, the individual workouts. Unlike last season, I expect some significant changes to the following list.
Last year, the only big difference between my initial draft list and my final one was moving Anthony Randolph off the board after seeing his individual workout (and getting a sense of how much of a project he was going to be). But this is a more difficult draft to get a handle on and I've watched less college basketball than I did last season, so I expect to learn a lot more over the next two months that will impact my thinking on the draft.
So, consider this a very preliminary ranking of who the Grizzlies should be looking at in the lottery. I'm going nine deep on the list, because #9 is the lowest the Grizzlies will possibly be picking. I'll have a follow-up post in the coming days on players to potentially target with the team's two later picks.
Griz Draft Board
1. Blake Griffin
2. Greg Monroe
I'd compare Monroe to Lamarcus Aldridge, the Blazers' power forward who was a #2 overall pick in a weak draft and has become a very good pro. Monroe is like Aldridge in that he has 6'11" size and excellent perimeter shooting skills, but isn't a high-level rebounder. But I think Monroe has a more well-rounded game: Better ball-handling and play-making skills, better potential as a post player and off the dribble. More shot-blocking potential. He needs time to develop and won't be a physical monster, but I think he's got all-star ability as an NBA 4. There is a decent chance he goes back to Georgetown, though.
3. Ricky Rubio
4. Hasheem Thabeet
5. Jordan Hill
Downside: He seems to be undersized for a pro "4" and doesn't seem to have much of a perimeter or developed post game. I worry he's just a guy at the NBA level, but he plays the Grizzlies' position of greatest need without a clearly better player at another position on the board. Hill is a guy I could move down after seeing him in person if he doesn't look big enough to be a pro "4."
6. DeMar DeRozan
7. Cole Aldrich
8. Tyreke Evans
9. James Harden
Others worth a look:
James Johnson: When I watched Wake Forest early on, I was focusing more on Jeff Teague and Al-Farouq Aminu, so I didn't get a close enough look at the Wake player that's now probably most likely to be a Grizzlies draft target. I was hoping to take a second look in the NCAA tournament, but that didn't exactly work out. Seems to have toughness, athleticism, and versatility. If he's really as big as his 6'9", 245 listing, he could be intriguing. I'll be interested to see him workout if and when he comes in.
Willie Warren: Very talented combo guard with good size and deep range. Probably needs another year and doesn't really fit a big need for the Grizzlies.
DaJuan Blair: Love him as a college player and his rebounding and toughness at the "4" fits the Grizzlies biggest need. But his size and conditioning are big red flags. I've watched him struggle to get his shot off against 6'9" college defenders. In those cases, he typically misses the shot but gets the offensive rebound and putback. Not sure if he'll be so effective on the block in the NBA. Still, rebounding tends to translate. If he goes on the Kevin Love diet and comes into workouts looking more sculpted, this is a guy I could see myself moving up the list.
Al-Farouq Aminu: Not sure he'll ever be a high-level scorer, but is athletic, active, and versatile. Can defend, handle, run the floor. Would be a nice player to develop behind Rudy, but this team needs a lot more than that out of its lottery pick.
Earl Clark: Unlike Aminu, I think Clark might have the height and frame to play quite a bit at the 4, and I like the diverse skills he'd bring to that spot. Could develop into a decent three-point shooter. He's been inconsistent, though. And, again, not the type of player that is a priority for the Grizzlies.