I'm a little late checking in on an exciting draft lottery tonight as the Grizzlies moved up from sixth to second, just missing securing consensus top pick Blake Griffin but getting a pretty good consolation prize.
After hashing things out with a post-lottery dinner with friends, I'll have expansive thoughts coming up sometime Wednesday morning, but to get on the record now, my initial impressions are these:
1. There are many possible routes this team can take to get where it wants to go. Getting the top pick and taking Griffin would have been the clearest and easiest path. Getting the second pick in this draft is perhaps more interesting, though, as it sets up dozens of potential gameplans for this off-season, some of which I'll get into in the next post.
2. If the Grizzlies weren't going to get the top pick, the Clippers are a pretty good outcome. That team's a mess and could potentially move off the pick if the Grizzlies want to try to move up. The Thunder, who would have been the worst team to get the top pick from a Griz perspective, would surely like to move up from third, but I can't see the Clippers trading down to three in a draft with a clear-cut Top Two.
3. I do agree with the consensus that Ricky Rubio is the clear-cut second best player in the draft. He's been considered a potential number-one-overall pick for several years now, is still only 18, and has been a big-time producer at the highest levels of basketball outside the NBA, both in Spanish ACB and Euroleague play and at the Olympics. He's a sixth-sense playmaker with flair. Imagine Jason Williams except three inches taller, with a defensive mindset, and not a knucklehead. As much as I like Mike Conley, Rubio is the more significant talent. More on all this coming up, but here's a quick taste of Rubio: