Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2008 NBA Draft Preview (part 1)

Well it seems that at 12-29 the Memphis Grizzlies are going to have to face the wheel again. However, unlike like last season, the stakes are not that crucial. In other words, the #1 pick would be nice (a first for this organization) but there is not a large separation at the top of the draft. So, if the ping-pong balls don’t pop up our way then it will not be a franchise deflator like the Oden/Durant sweepstakes. There is no consensus number one player, heck there isn’t even a consensus top 5 players at this point and a number of players have the chance to be able to play their selves to the top. It is going to be a dog fight to be the first player called by David Stern.

For the most part, this draft preview will concentrate on how players will fit into the Grizzlies draft plans. If I do not think a player fits or fills a need, his ranking might be lower than his talent suggests. Also, since the Grizzlies do not currently own a second round pick and their first round pick can be had by the Washington Wizards, this article will focus on the players attainable and of valu with the Grizzlies first round draft pick.

After watching half of this season (I don’t need no stinkin’ fifty games!), I have narrowed the Grizzlies needs to the following: (1) Swagger – the Grizzlies must get a refuse to lose type of player, an alpha dog with supreme confidence with time running out; (2) mental and physical toughness – the Grizzlies can’t afford another player that has a follower mentality and they need someone that is not a physical mismatch at his position; (3) a closerçinsert link- if nothing else, this year has put the spotlight on the need to have someone who can get their shot off with the clock running down, Rudy Gay is making strides but his ball handling is still suspect in this regards; (4) a perimeter defender – the Grizz need someone with an attitude toward making stops without being an offensive liability; (5) an alternative post option – when Pau Gasol goes to the bench, our offense needs to have someone we can throw the ball into in the post that is willing to pass it out (not you Hakim), not a great player but someone who can take advantage of bench post defenders; (6) a basket protector – Darko looks to be growing in this role but his off the ball defense and defensive awareness need a lot of work; and (7) a superstar – we need a player that the average fan can believe in, a player that has that certain something that potential ticket buyers will gravitate toward. Unfortunately, just being a very good basketball player is not enough.

Ok that was a little lengthy. But what do you expect when our team is 11-29. Now here is the first look at my Memphis Grizzlies 2008 NBA draft board:

(1) O.J. Mayo – Coming into this season, he was my #1 prospect. Since the college season started, I have been wavering between Michael Beasley and Eric Gordon. Those two got off to such explosive starts and have continued with such stellar play that it has been hard to ignore. Then I went back to the tape and my notes. Mayo is still everything the Memphis Grizzlies need. Forget all the attitude crap people always try to put on him, he has been the best player in this class since it was ranked for a reason. He is a certified killer. Having been a PG most of his high school career, he is transitioning well to the role of shooting guard at USC. He is a combo guard of the highest order. Able to run a team, be an explosive scorer, or both. At a legit 6’5 with NBA athleticism, he is not a combo guard due to his size. He will probably never be a high percentage shooter like Dwayne Wade because he tends to take some very high degree of difficulty shots. Why? Because he can make them at a higher rate than most elite scorers. Has great mechanics on his jumper and already possesses NBA range and accuracy. There is nothing he can’t do offensively. The surprising aspect of his game is his development as a perimeter defender. He has always shown the ability but now his is showing the will to be a lock down perimeter defender. Quick enough to cover most point guards and strong enough to defend shooting guards, he will be much more than adequate on defense in the NBA. His anticipation and hands will make him a top of the line ball hawk. The other aspect I like about him is that his early hype has given him the villain persona amongst NBA fans. Opposing fan bases will hate him but they will come and watch him. He could change the entire attitude of the franchise. Mayo is a true alpha dog. There will be no mistake who will be the best player once he hits the court, he will lead, he will make big plays and most importantly…he will be a winner.

(2) Eric Gordon – The player I have been pimping since the college season started. He is such a great shooter from distance it is ridiculous. Makes 27 footers like they are layups. Can shoot it off the dribble, off of picks, at a stand sill, and on the break. However, shooting is not his only offensive skill. He has a ferocious drive game. Routinely blows by his defenders when they start crowding him to take away his shot. Is a top shelf athlete and is able to finish well even at his height (6’4ish). He has long arms to compensate. Gordon is a very good ball handler and is a willing albeit not creative passer. However, he gets to the free throw line very well and can finish through contact. I see no reason why he won’t be a 25+ point per game scorer in the NBA, probably before his rookie contract is extended. He seems to be an adequate defender. He has the quickness to be able to defend point guards and his athleticism should keep him in most match ups at shooting guard. However, Gordon is a true shooting guard. He can be a secondary ball handler without a problem. In the new NBA that stresses perimeter play and transition, Gordon’s ability to finish, pull up off his own dribble, or flare out to the deep corners will make him an impossible match up in the open court. He has the potential to be real explosive with his range plays within himself. Never seems to get rattled. Also there is the added bonus that he played on the same AAU team as Michael Conley.

(3) Michael Beasley – or B’Easy or Beastly or whatever the heck he wants us to call him. New age power forward. Does all the things power forwards should do with the skills and shot of a small forward. Already has an NBA body. A legit 6’9 with long arms and above average athleticism, so I have not understood the notion that he will be undersized. I remember people saying Al Horford would be an undersized NBA power forward and he is now the starting center for the Atlanta Hawks. Players play in the league. Beasley’s greatest skill might be his rebounding. He just has a knack for getting his hands on the ball and the strength to win any and all tie-ups. He is just relentless and although he doesn’t have that special Amare pre-surgeries athleticism, his second jump is quick and as strong as his first. Can score with his back to the basket but needs to add some more to his post game to punish with it on the next level. He is real good facing up because his first step and strength usually allow him to get past his defender while his wingspan allows him to finish in traffic. Has a real good jump shot with a quick and high release. Will be able to run pick and pops in the NBA from day 1. Combine that with his ability to pick and roll and finish through contact, he is going to be a good offensive facilitator from day 1 especially with a strong point guard.

(4) Derrick Rose – Rose is probably the player I have seen the most and scouted the least. I think it would have to be a really unique draft situation for the Memphis Grizzlies to draft him and really I can’t see the circumstances coming up at this time. However, if the above three players were off the board I would lean toward taking him over anyone that is left due to him being a sure thing on the talent meter. Rose also has the size to play alongside Conley if that is what the Grizzlies wanted to do until better options became available. Rose is probably the quickest big guard I have seen with the dribble since Jason Kidd. He does not have the court vision of Kidd but he is very capable at the point. His game play reminds me of Devon Harris of the Mavericks. His outside shot is a little shaky but his form does not look broken. His shot has already improved throughout the young college season. His physicality with the ball and his athleticism makes him a demon when attacking the basket. In the NBA, I see him playing the same role Brandon Roy plays for Portland. He will be a guard capable of attacking or distributing the ball. His ability to get into the lane at will and finish through contact will make him an offensive force the minute he hits the floor.

(5) DeAndre Jordan – The first and only legit center prospect in this preview. Jordan is an athletic specimen that definitely passes the look test. His rebounding skill is the first thing that jumps out at you. He routinely grabs rebounds at the top of his extension in traffic and is able to pull rebounds away from others with his hands. Unlike some other athletic bigs, he takes advantage of his athleticism and length to get rebound before others can reach them. Think Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler. However, like those two, he lacks polish on the offensive end. His loses balance on his back to the basket moves and is unable to finish strong. He badly needs to develop a go to move with his back to the basket. However, he plays to his strength. He is always around the basket on both ends of the court and has great timing blocking shots. He has the highest ceiling of any prospect in the draft but he also has a high chance of not developing fully. The team that drafts him needs to hire a personal coach and trainer for him. He is going to need to get a lot of close one on one attention to reach his potential.

(6) Donte Green – Green is a 6’10 SF/PF. He is a very athletic and diverse NBA prospect. He has the handles and jump shot of a shooting guard but rebounds and blocks shots like a power forward. His biggest weakness is his shot selection. The fact that he has NBA 3 point range on his jump shot, he tends to take ill-advised long-range shots. His play is somewhat undisciplined but he plays with some desire. Being at Syracuse and stuck playing in that 2-3 zone all the time his man to man defense is impossible to evaluate. However, he has excellent instincts as a weak side shot blocker and seemed willing to battle for position against the much larger Roy Hibbert. He seems to be built for Coach Iavaroni’s system. His height was measured at the Nike Hoop Summit. Green has plenty of room to grow more into his body and his lack of discipline does not seem terminal. His desire to drive and play more on the inside as the year goes on will be one of the keys to his development. The Orangemen lack veteran players so his team's reliance on him for offense might stunt his growth just a little.

After doing a lot of film watching, I think these are the only six players that can actually be impact players at this time. Other players still being evaluated that should appear in part two are Danilo Gallinari, Nicolas Batum, and Brook Lopez. For right now, this top six is what I consider tier 1 in regards to the needs of the Memphis Grizzlies and the style that Iavaroni has openly stated he wants to play in the future. Unfortunately our fate remains in the hands of a lottery combination.


Chris said...

Where did our second round pick go this year?

MemphisX said...

Traded to acquire Alexander Johnson.

Thanks Jerry!

Chris said...

I thought that's why we didn't have a second round pick this year.

Ronan said...

Very unlikley Mayo goes number 1. His stock has fallen but is on the rise again. Beasley would be the consensus no.1 pick unless that team already has a productive forward line....which we dont....

ssr said...

yea, the griz do have GAY he is a pretty good player, so they will not need a point gaurd and small forward the rest they would eed badly, cuz they dont have good players. but i think they should go for beasly or OJ MAyo or gordon, cuz face it the griz need a sg they can trade mike miller for cash or a pick and they are set they will have oen of teh best 1 2 3 spots in the nba