While all the focus for the Grizzlies draft has been on the #2 pick, the team also has picks at #27 and #36 and the roster spots to absorb them. I preparation for Thursday’s draft, let’s take a quick look at all (or at least most) of the reasonable options at those two spots, taking into account their Grizzlies workouts (where applicable), their combine results, whether I’ve heard them talked about by any team officials, and a general feel for how their game looks to shape for the next level. To give a sense of where these players are expected to go in the draft, I’ve included in parenthesis their current mock draft slot according to DraftExpress.com, Chad Ford, and NBADraft.net (in that order.)
Slippage Candidates: Last year, the Grizzlies didn’t expect to see Donte Greene or Darrell Arthur at the end of the first round and someone projected to go much earlier is likely to slip down this year as well. Based on conversations with Grizzlies officials, there seem to be the most likely candidates to fall. Most of these players will be off the board by the time the Grizzlies pick at #27, but the thought is that one or two of them might fall:
Sam Young (18, 21, 31) — Very popular among some in the Griz front office and fits a clear need as a back-up three who can both defend and shoot, so would be a near-certain pick at #27 if he drops. My concern is his age — 24 — and the fact that he didn’t become an impact college player until his junior season. Is he really this good or was he a man beating up on kids in college?
DeJuan Blair (21, 13, 22) — Questions about his knees seemed to have his stock plummeting, but now he seems to have stabilized and probably won’t be on the board. If he is, he’d be hard to turn down at #27, but I sense the team has plenty of doubts about him, so he picking him even that low wouldn’t be a given.
Eric Maynor (23, 24, 21) — A big-time producer in college. Probably not there at #27, but with his size (over 6’3”) and skill would be an attractive pick even with the team not pursuing a point guard.
Ty Lawson (13, 17, 17) — I’d be very surprised if he was there at #27 but he was mentioned to me as a possible dropper, so I’ll thrown him on the list. Not a need, at all, but I don’t know how you’d pass on him that late. Big-time talent in a small package. I believe in him as an elite back-up. Beyond that, I don’t know.
BJ Mullens (15, 18, 15) — This year’s DeAndre Jordan. Top high-school big man flails through a year of college. Rumored to have a promise in the mid-first. If not, could drop. Haven’t detected much enthusiasm from the Grizzlies, but if he’s there they’d have to consider it.
Austin Daye (22, 15, 35) — Long and skilled but hasn’t shown it on the court. An all-upside pick that, like Mullens, I haven’t heard much interest in from the Grizzlies.
Chase Buddinger (28, 25, 20) — 6’7” backcourt size, deep three-point range, and raw athleticism make him attractive, but he never really put it all together in college and there’s the thought that his explosiveness doesn’t translate to the basketball court. Doesn’t have to be a leading man at the next level though, so his ability to both spot-up and finish strong in transition could make him an excellent role player.
The rest of these players are likely to be available at #27 and many of them at #36. I’ve divided them into types, with the idea that the Grizzlies are probably unlikely to pick two players from the same group.
Nick Calathes (31, 31, 39) — I love Calathes this late as a playmaker and shooter with quick, steal-generating hands. It looks like he’s going to play at least one year overseas, which might make him a value pick to stash away, especially if he falls to #36. However, with plenty of open roster spots and plenty of players in this range the team seems to like, I don’t think the Grizzlies are looking for someone who won’t play next season. An unlikely pick.
Darren Collison (24, 29, 34) — Given the wide range of team needs, I don’t see the Grizzlies going after a pure point guard in the draft. I also haven’t detected much enthusiasm for Collison anyway.
Patty Mills (36, 32, 37) — Everything in the Collison comments applies to Mills.
Rodrique Beaubois (30, 46, 53) — French guard with enormous wingspan. A mystery to me and I haven’t heard his name mentioned by anyone with the team. A longshot by default.
Wayne Ellington (37, 40, 25) — Good size at 6’5” and seems to be a decent athlete. Can really stroke it and was a top prospect coming out of high school whose college production may have been limited on a loaded UNC team. What’s not to like? He has his doubters, but I’d think he’d have to be under strong consideration for either pick.
Marcus Thornton (32, 49, 33) — There are problems here: Thornton is under 6’4” and doesn’t have the big wingspan to make up for it. Additionally, he doesn’t seem to be able to play the point. However, he’s a strong and explosive athlete with three-point range. He had a great workout for the Grizzlies where not only shot well in solo drills, but routinely made contested shots in one-on-one drills. This team needs more scoring off the bench. A darkhorse at #27, a strong contender at #36.
Jodie Meeks (52, 60, 48) — Big-time college scorer profiles similar to Thornton but was much less impressive in workout and doesn’t seem to be the same caliber athlete. A longshot.
Jack McClinton (46, 52, XX) — The undersized Miami sharpshooter had a good workout for the Grizzlies and intrigues as a potential Eddie House-like instant-offense threat: A tough, spunky shooter to rain bombs off the bench at a moment’s notice. Most guys who fit this profile don’t make it and I think even #36 is too high for McClinton, but I wouldn’t rule him out.
Dionte Christmas (53, XX, 32) — Good size at the two and a good college shooter, but didn’t have a good workout for the Grizzlies and doesn’t look like a pro athlete to me. A longshot.
Toney Douglas (43, 26, 26) — Diminutive shooter. Haven’t seen him. Didn’t come work out. Haven’t heard him mentioned by anyone with the team. You got me.
Derrick Brown (34, 30, 29) — 6’8” combo forward with 7’3” wingspan and excellent athleticism. The only player in the draft with a higher max vertical reach (discounting Thabeet, who wouldn’t test) is B.J. Mullens. The only players who bench pressed more were Blake Griffin and Luke Harangody. So he’s an impressive physical specimen who was a top player for a Xavier program that has a pretty good NBA track record. Worked out very well for the Grizzlies this week, shooting well from mid-range and well enough from outside the arc to suggest he can develop into a viable three-point threat at the NBA-level. Also demonstrated a lot of energy and personality in the workout. Given the team’s need for a defensive-oriented back-up 3 and for more toughness and hustle across the board, he should be strongly considered at #27 and a no-brainer at #36 if he falls.
Omri Casspi (26, 23, 23) — Big small forward who looked great in the last Memphis-based Nike Hoop Summit a couple of years ago and worked out well for the Grizzlies last year. Not the greatest athlete but is a tough, hard-nosed guy. Added bonus of worldwide feature stories for having the both the first Iranian and first Israeli in the Association. Would likely be considered at either pick.
Danny Green (47, 39, 43) — One of my personal faves until I finally saw him in person at his Grizzlies workout. Not a fluid athlete and looks useless off the dribble. However, has good size on the wing, a good defensive reputation in college, knows how to play, and his funky-looking shot finds net when left alone. In the mix at #36, but probably a longshot.
DeMarre Carroll (25, 35, 51) — Worked out well for the Grizzlies, but wasn’t quite as impressive as the similar Derrick Brown, who is both a better athlete and better shooter than Carroll. Still, Carroll plays hard, can defend both forward spots, and probably shoot well enough from mid-range to provide some offensive value. Will be considered, but I don’t think I like him as much as the team and other media watchers seem to.
Forwards and Bigs:
DaJuan Summers (38, 27, 30) — There’s a sense that Georgetown players have more game than they get to show in that system (see Jeff Green), so that mitigates Summers’ disappointing play last season. At 6’8”, 245 with a legit three-point stroke, Summers is a tweener forward in a good sense, at least offensively. His lackluster rebounding at that size is troubling, but should be strongly considered at either pick if on the board.
Josh Heytvelt (39, 42, 36) — Didn’t come in and haven’t heard him mentioned, but is a legit 6’11”, 250, seems to be a decent athlete, and has range on his shot.
Jeff Pendergraph (42, 34, 40) — Seems like a fifth big at best in the pros. Not big enough to play center or unusually skilled. I have heard his name mentioned by team officials, but I doubt he’d be the pick.
Taj Gibson (27, 38, 27) — Huge wingspan on top of plus 6’9” height intrigues. He never jumped out at me when I watched USC games, he didn’t come in for a workout, and I haven’t heard him mentioned. He’s also one of the older players in the draft at 24.
Jon Brockman (41, 36, 53) — Rugged but undersized rebounder
Jonas Jerebko (29, 28, 28)/Victor Claver (33, 33, 24) — Highest rated non-Rubio/Casspi international prospects. Have never seen them and haven’t heard them mentioned by anyone with the team.