Friday, June 28, 2013

Griz Draft-Night Haul: Kosta Koufos, Jamaal Franklin, Janis Timma

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 12:31 AM

Kosta Koufos
  • Kosta Koufos
A quick, late-night look at what seemed to be a nice first draft night for the Grizzlies' new front office, with follow-up tomorrow:

Move 1: Traded Darrell Arthur and the #55 pick to Denver for center Kosta Koufos
I thought there was a chance that Arthur could move on draft night, but for a late-first-round pick. And expected him to move this off-season regardless, but to free up more payroll space under the tax line for other moves. Instead, it came in the form of a (basically) financially even player-for-player deal with only minor draft implications.

But this looks like a good move for the Grizzlies. They checked off their second or third biggest off-season need (a true back-up center to play behind Marc Gasol) and cleared up a crowded scene at power forward, solidifying Ed Davis as the back-up power forward and creating a potential opportunity to develop Jon Leuer as a fifth big. The team's entire frontcourt rotation fits together better now.

Beyond that, they likely got the better — or at least most valuable — player in the deal: Koufos is a 24-year-old true center (7'0”, 265 pounds) who started 81 games for a playoff team in Denver last season. Koufos averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds a game on 58% shooting in 22 minutes a game in what was something of a breakout fifth season. He's a much better rebounder than Arthur and doesn't have as troubling an injury history. He's a more efficient scorer than Arthur, but won't space the floor the same way. His offense is primarily rooted in the paint. Koufos will allow Marc Gasol to get some needed rest and should be among the NBA's best back-up centers.

Arthur, when healthy, is a better player than he showed last season. But there's reason to wonder how much he can get back to his peak form. And this front office — high on Ed Davis — was not as high on Arthur as, for instance, Lionel Hollins was.

Financially, it's also a plus. The deal frees up an extra $200,000 or so this season, but, more significantly, it puts the Grizzlies in the driver's seat for 2014-2015. Arthur's deal was a player option for $3.5 million that season. Koufos' deal is a team option for $3 million, which is more advantageous for the Grizzlies.

Move 2: Selected San Diego St. guard Jamal Franklin at #41
I didn't think the Grizzlies would select a non-shooter perimeter player in this draft but I also didn't think Jamaal Franklin would be available at #41, where the value was perceived as too good to pass up.

A wing player from San Diego St., Franklin was ranked #19 on the Top 100 list from ESPN.com's Chad Ford and ended up being the only player in Ford's Top 20 who wasn't taken in the actual draft's Top 20.

Franklin is 6'5” but has a 6'11” wingspan and was probably the best rebounding guard in the draft, a key indicator of NBA-caliber athleticism. He projects as a very good defensive player. The question will come on the offensive end, where Franklin shot between 28% and 33% from three-point range in three college seasons, with more turnovers than assists.

Here's a much better primer on Franklin than I could provide, via DraftExpress.com:

Move 3: Selected Janis Timma at #60
The Grizzlies didn't want to keep two second-round rookies on what they expect to be a contending team next season, especially after duplicating some of what they already have in taking Franklin at #41. So they were looking for a “draft-and-stash” candidate at #60 and settled on Janis Timma, a 20-year-old Latvian forward who worked out for the team in Memphis on Monday. He'll play in Europe next season, where the Grizzlies will monitor his development.

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