Last night's draft for the Grizzlies was both more interesting and less interesting than expected. No blockbuster last-minute deals were made to move up or down from the 22nd pick, but the players selected could potentially tell a story about how the Grizzlies are going to spend the rest of the summer tweaking their roster.
For the Grizzlies, everything seemed to hinge on whether Tyler Ennis was available to the Toronto Raptors at 20.
If he were, the Raptors wanted to pull off the trade that circulated yesterday—John Salmons and the 37th pick for Tayshaun Prince and the 22nd—in order to have the 22nd pick and select Clint Capela. When Ennis was selected 18th by the Phoenix Suns, that likely torpedoed the Grizzlies' best chance for trading out of the 22nd spot.
Once they figured out they were going to pick a player instead of trading, the Griz selected Jordan Adams, a 6'5" shooting guard from UCLA. Adams is athletic, he can score, and his advanced metrics are pretty stellar (all of which leads one to believe that John Hollinger had a pretty heavy influence on Adams' selection). It brings up the question of "why another shooting guard?", but I'll address that later.
The one caveat I have about the Adams pick: the Griz passed over Rodney Hood to get him. Hood managed to drop to the Utah Jazz at the 23rd spot (immediately after Hood) and while I wasn't crazy about his game, I still would've been satisfied had the Grizzlies picked him. If Adams turns out to be mediocre and Hood develops into the very good player he's capable of growing into, that's going to come back and haunt the Griz for a while.
All in all, though, scoring at the wings is what the Grizzlies need, and that's why they drafted Jordan Adams. I didn't have Adams on my radar—although apparently I should have—but given some time to research it, I'm fine with this pick. I think Adams has potential to be a great fit on this team, especially if they continue forward with a style of play that leads to a lot of kick-out opportunities for shooters.
The Grizzlies made another move last night. Memphis' own Jarnell Stokes, formerly of the University of Tennessee, managed to fall into the second round, where he was selected by the Utah Jazz. The Grizzlies then swapped Utah a 2016 second-rounder for Stokes, who was one of the best rebounders in the NCAA last year, and who apparently had Grizzlies season tickets when he was in high school:
Grew up a Grizz fan! God has a plan! #901— Jarnell Stokes (@JarnellStokes) June 27, 2014
(And yes, it's still a little weird to me that the Grizzlies have now been here long enough that there are NBA players who grew up as Griz fans. I am an old, ancient man.)
At any rate, if one takes a look at the numbers, especially the "advanced" ones (link via Peter Edmiston on Twitter), Stokes compares favorably to guys like Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Adriean Payne, and Julius Randle (especially if you look at his offensive rating—117.3 is very efficient).
What does that mean? It means the Grizzlies were able to steal a guy that should've gone in the first round for a 2016 2nd round pick.
Of course, now is the part where we have to look at what these picks tell us about the Grizzlies and what they'll be doing this summer.
First and foremost, if you had any doubts about whether John Hollinger had any pull in the "new" Grizzlies power structure, last night should've dashed them from your minds. The Adams pick, especially, has Hollinger's fingerprints all over it. According to Chris Herrington, the Grizzlies draft board was Adams, Hood, Stokes, in that order. They were able to get two of those guys without really giving anything up. Maybe (and this could just be wishful thinking, but bear with me) the dark days of the Grizzlies turning into idiots for four hours on draft night are starting to become a thing of the past?
Second, the Adams pick means the Grizzlies have a lot of cleaning up to do on the roster. If you look at the shooting guards on this team (including guys who also spend time at the 3):
And Tayshaun Prince is still on the team, since the Toronto deal fell through (which looks like it was probably for the best, given what the Griz were able to do last night).
Bottom line is this: all of those guys aren't going to be on the team when the season starts, or at least, I hope they're not. The Griz took a crowded situation and turned it into a dogpile. Out of those guys, I think Pondexter and probably Franklin are the most likely to be dealt at some point (although the fact that Pondexter is apparently best buds with Robert Pera may make that less likely than it should be). Franklin can still be a good player, but I wonder whether the Grizzlies, now that they have Adams, are going to commit to giving him the minutes he needs to develop. Tony Allen could've probably been dealt if the Grizzlies had really wanted to move up in last night's draft, but it didn't happen, so my assumption is that the plan is to start him at the 3 next year alongside Lee at the 2.
They're going to have to clear the roster up some, no two ways around it. There are not enough minutes in a season to properly use all of these guys, and some of them (again, my guess would be Pondexter) may not be too happy about that.
Third, if the Grizzlies work out a deal with Zach Randolph and he sticks around, the Jarnell Stokes pick means Ed Davis is probably not going to be back in a Grizzlies uniform next year, and honestly, that's probably fine. Stokes has the potential to be the perfect backup to Randolph, in that the Grizzlies' rebounding won't take a hit with him on the floor, and who knows: maybe Stokes could be the "Z-Bo in training" that we've all been waiting for for so long?
I think the Stokes pick means the Grizzlies won't keep the restricted free agent Davis around—still don't think they'll renounce him, but I don't anticipate that they'll match anything higher than the qualifying offer. The Boss Days might be over. Don't pour one out for him just yet, but you shouldn't be surprised if he's not in Beale Street Blues next year.
I'd give the draft a B-. I think the Adams pick is a little bit of a flyer, but if it works out, it'll just prove that Hollinger's MACHINE is smarter than all of us. He has the potential to add something that the Grizzlies have needed for a long time, and still haven't really fixed even with the additions of Lee and Miller: scoring and shooting at the wing. As for Stokes, it's basically free money, getting a guy that should've been picked in the first round for a 2nd-round pick two years from now. He's almost definitely going to make the team, and I think he'll be a factor in the rotation this season even if it's as the fifth big on the end of the bench. After his rookie season, who knows?
My hope is that last night's draft set the Grizzlies up for a summer of tweaks to a roster that was already good—clearing up some of the logjam at the wing where they have too many similar players, clarifying the power structure of the frontcourt by settling the Z-Bo situation one way or the other and thus (through the Stokes pick) also resolving The Ed Davis Situation (which is also the name of my new ska band). It was a night that showed that the Griz decision makers are capable of making rational basketball-related decisions, which was reassurance that the Griz faithful needed after what's been a crazy summer so far.