Though all the focus is on the lottery, the Grizzlies will have two other picks in this years draft — at 27 and 35 — and plenty of open roster spots to play with, so those picks will be important.
I'm not going to do rankings for late-first/early-second prospects, but instead list players I've seen that are likely to be in that range in rough order of preference.
I'm leaving off a handful of players projected to go late lottery/mid-first round and who I don't think have a chance to last to #27, such as: Patrick Patterson, Gerald Henderson, Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, Eric Maynor, Tywon Lawson, etc.
Guys I've Seen:
Sam Young/Danny Green: Here are two players who project similarly at the next level, and I'd really like to see the Grizzlies come away with one of them. NBA teams can always use those classic Bruce Bowen/James Posey/Raja Bell-style role players — lockdown wing defenders who can hit the open shot. The Grizzlies brought in Quinton Ross to play that role last season, but Ross was too slim to take on all comers on the defensive end and his shot was too shaky to be reliable. Young and Green both have a chance to be that kind of player at the pro level.
Young was a star at Pittsburgh, but at age 24 coming into the draft, he seems to lack the athleticism and upside to be a primary player in the league. His size and toughness suggests he can make his living on the defensive end while contributing on the boards and as a secondary offensive option (37% and 38% from three the past two seasons).
Unlike Young, Green was a secondary player in college on packed UNC teams and is a consensus second-round pick in the mocks, but I think I might like him even better and would be very content to take him at #27. Green is a range-y defensive specialist with a high hoops IQ and a rapidly improving three-point shot (42% last season). He got lost in the shuffle a little bit at UNC, but I think he profiles as a terrific role player in the NBA.
Chase Buddinger: His streaky shooting and generally inconsistent production at Arizona are troubling, but there's still a lot to like here: Size, versatility, athleticism, three-point range. It's easy to see Buddinger developing into a very useful pro, with Dan Majerle-like upside if he puts it all together.
Nick Calathes: I'm a big fan of Calathes as a player. Great size for a point guard, three-point range (39% last year). Doesn’t appear to be an NBA athlete, but his steal and rebound numbers at Florida show his activity, quickness, and ability to find a way. You watch him on the court and he's constantly making plays. I think he'll struggle defensively at the pro level and will be very turnover-prone as a rookie, but will eventually be a very effective playmaker/shooter. I think he ends up being somewhere between a Steve Blake and a Jose Calderon as a pro. The only reason I don't have him higher is I don't think he's a great fit on the current Griz roster: To complete the backcourt rotation, the Grizzlies don't need a big point guard to play with Mayo, they need a two-guard that will allow Mayo to get minutes at the point.
B.J. Mullens: Mullens will probably be long gone by the time the Grizzlies pick at 27, but could slide a la Deandre Jordan last year. There's a lot of bust potential here, but if he's around it'd be hard to pass him up as a high-reward pick. Center is not a need position for the Grizzlies right now, but with Darko Milicic having only one year left on his deal and Hamed Haddadi not at all a proven contributor, adding a promising center prospect to develop behind the current Gasol-Darko tandem is a viable use of the pick.
Jarvis Varnado: Great shotblocker, good rebounder, live athlete who runs the floor and finishes in transition. The primary questions are whether he can develop any kind of offensive game beyond catch-and-dunk and whether he can fill out enough to not get overpowered on the block by pro post players. I like him though. There's always room for defensive-minded big men.
Wayne Ellington: A potentially elite three-point shooter with two-guard size, which is something the Grizzlies could certainly make use of. Doesn't seem to have much upside as a defender, playmaker, or off-the-dribble scorer, though.
Omri Casspi: I loved Casspi at the Nike Hoop Summit in Memphis a couple of years ago, where his hard-nosed play made him stick out while Derrick Rose and Nicholas Batum were making the highlight-reel plays. And Casspi looked pretty decent in a pre-draft workout for the Grizzlies last summer. I wonder about his upside offensively and think he'll probably never be more than a role player, but he could be a terrific energy guy.
Jodie Meeks: Most mocks have Meeks as a mid-second-rounder, but I like him better than that. There are plenty of red flags here: He's got combo size but strictly two-guard game, and he's not an elite athlete. His sudden emergence as a college junior is also a little puzzling. But Meeks has deep shooting range and can also get to the rim. He can flat-out score. I see him as a high-volume bench scorer at the pro level, in the mold of Flip Murray.
Gani Lawal: Tough, high-energy, but undersized post player. Seems to have a strong motor, rebounds well, and attacks the basket, but not much of a refined offensive game and doesn’t seem to have a very high hoops IQ. Looks kind of like a younger Alexander Johnson to me. I like Vanardo better because his shot-blocking is a defined, translatable skill.
Dajuan Summers: Classic small-forward size and three-point range. Decent athlete who might be better than he showed at Georgetown. A true back-up three is a need, but there's a real chance that Summers is just a guy at the pro level.
Damien James: He's the same size as Summers and a better, tougher athlete, but not as good a three-point shooter. At the NBA level, he's going to have to be a three, and I wonder if he's skilled enough to play on the perimeter despite his energy and athleticism. Could be a Luc Richard Mbah Moute or could be a Ryan Humphrey. (Remember that name, Griz fans?)
Darren Collison: Super quick with the ball and has three-point range. Would be higher on sheer talent, but I think another small guard is at the bottom of the team's needs list.
Tyler Hansborough: I know he plays hard and was very productive in college, but I don't like him as a pro. I don’t think his game (driving through people, poor pure post and perimeter skills) and physical tools (undersized, mediocre athlete) are going to match up against the big boys.
Tyler Smith: I've never been able to get a good handle on Smith. He's a versatile, athletic scorer, but seems erratic and doesn’t thrive in any one area.
Guys I Haven't Seen: Marcus Thornton, Austin Daye, Patrick Mills, Derrick Brown, Michael Washington, Lee Cummard, Josh Heytvelt, Victor Claver.