Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Four Paths: Drafting (and Keeping) Ricky Rubio

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 9:02 AM

If the Grizzlies stay put at #2, I think Ricky Rubio is the obvious pick. But it's one that comes with lots of complications.


With Mike Conley emerging in the second half last season and O.J. Mayo's size and playmaking ability suggesting he needs to spend a lot of time on the ball to thrive, the Griz don’t need a ball-handling guard.

Also, after three straight sub-25-win seasons and with one of the league's youngest rosters, going through the inevitable growing pains with an 18-year-old point guard is not exactly an enticing proposition.

But ultimately it comes down to this: Rubio is a special talent, and those are hard to come by.

But if the Grizzlies take Rubio, what other potential moves would that set in motion?

One school of thought I heard last night was that the Grizzlies should draft Rubio and go into next season with a three-guard rotation of Conley/Mayo/Rubio. At 6'4", Rubio could play alongside Conley some and the team could take its time sorting things out. I don't really buy into this line of thinking, though, and instead suspect that drafting Rubio would necessitate trading Conley.

What are the potential trade options for Conley? The good news is that there are a lot of teams that need a point guard. The bad news is that this is a point-guard heavy draft. So the question would become: Would these potential trade partners be more interested in Conley than whatever point guard is available when they draft? In most instances, I think they should be. Conley has already proven he's a quality NBA point guard and at only 21 still has plenty of upside. Comparatively, prospects like Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Jonny Flynn, Tywon Lawson, and Eric Maynor are all gambles.

Let's go team-by-team and throw out some potential deals:

Sacramento — Conley/Darrell Arthur for the #4

Minnesota — Conley for #6

Golden State — Conley for #7 or maybe Conley/Greg Buckner for Anthony Randolph/Kelenna Azubuike. There are many variations of a potential Conley to Golden State deal.

New York — Conley for #8 or, more complicated, Conley/Arthur in a sign-and-trade deal for David Lee

Milwaukee — Conley for #10/Joe Alexander

Philadelphia — Conley/#27 for Marreese Speights/#17 (I don't really like this much, but am throwing it out there.)

Atlanta — Conley/Darko Milicic/Darrell Arthur for Josh Smith/Acie Law

Portland — Reigniting the old Conley for Travis Outlaw scenario is an obvious possibility, and one that could put Rudy Gay on the block in a deal for a power forward. (Amare Stoudemire again?) Conley for Rudy Fernandez (perhaps with a swap of late picks) would be a reasonable deal from both ends. Conley for Nicolas Batum /#24 would be worth thinking about though with Rubio and picks already at 27 and 36, that's probably too much new youth for this team. Lots of options with the Blazers.


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