Heres the deal. The Washington Wizards apparently want to trade their number one-draft pick. One very real possibility is to trade it to the Grizzlies for point guard Mike Bibby (8.4 apg) along with the Grizzs number-six pick. The Grizzlies would also get Wizards forward Tyrone Nesby.
The Grizz should take that number-one pick by all means. Bibby is a great passer and he can score on a consistent basis (15.9 ppg). Hes also young and has potential to grow. But the Grizz need help in defense and rebounding and Bibby might be more useful as bait than as the point-guard of the future.
It makes sense for the Wizards to want Bibby because, well, they suck. Bibby would greatly enhance their back-court talent. Also, if Jordan will indeed make his ill-advised (I know, Ill eat those words. Im sure.) return to the NBA, hes going to need someone to get him that ball. And the last thing the Wizards need is yet another talented but inexperienced high draft pick.
The deal would give the Grizzlies a serviceable big body in Nesby (6-6, 245 lbs), whose six fouls could come in useful in the Hack-A-Shack Western Conference. It would also give them the number-one pick. This, as you might imagine, is always a very good thing. Aside from being able to have the pick of the litter (with the emphasis on young pups), this is exactly what a moving team needs: a high-profile start. All the cameras and speculation will be on little ol Mempho-town and its decisions. It would also galvanize the public and make for good PR. Do not underestimate how important it is to get this team off to a fantastic first season in terms of ticket sales. Without many bona-fide stars on the team, a number one pick would mean big things for ticket sales and media coverage.
Assuming the Grizz do the deal and get the number-one pick, go with Duke senior and consensus NCAA player of the year Shane Battier. He wont be available at number-six because Atlanta has said it wants him with their number-three pick. Battier is a forward (6-8, 220 lbs) with the ball skills of a guard. He passes well and can defend on the perimeter as well as inside (88 blocks, 82 steals his senior year) and scores through his jump-shooting. Lets focus on this. Hes a great stand-still jump-shooter in a league allowing zones next year. That means that while defenses are trying to guard Grizzlies standout forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim on the inside, theyll have to worry about stopping 6-8 Battier from knocking down threes from the outside.
There has been some talk that Battier isnt athletic enough. Whatever. The man scored a pre-draft high on the vertical agility test and is third in the dunking contests held by coaches and scouts. Hes not a banger and the Grizzlies do need more help on the inside and rebounding, but he runs the floor well and has excellent vision. That would complement Coach Sydney Lowes interest in running and gunning.
Past the floor, Battier is a graduate of one of Americas premier universities and probably its best southern university. He is articulate, confident, team-oriented, and interested in a possible political career after basketball. Remember when we talked about how much the Grizzlies need a poster-boy? Battier is the best thing going in this draft and in a very long while, period.
Maybe Battiers lack of sheer physical domination or unworldly grace (see also: Shaquille ONeal and Kobe Bryant) will mean that he wont be a superstar. Battier will instead be one of the most consistent and best players in the league. He wont get into trouble off the court, and he has the very real potential to be a real asset to the community.
Next Wednesday night, its magic time. The first major event for Memphis NBA team will be at the Peabody (if the NBA announces that Memphis has the team, as expected). The Grizzlies need to stop going with the flow and make some noise if they want to stop being an also-ran. They need to make some noise if they even want to be
and also-ran. Go with the number-one pick, go with the right pick in Battier.
Otherwise, well all be watching as some teenie-bopper gets millions of dollars for his Lil Bow-Wow CDs.