Monday, May 26, 2008

MemphisX's Fave Five at Five

Well, luckily for me I distanced myself a bit from the Rose vs. Beasley debate because I did not want to feel the great disappointment that I felt last year after the NBA Draft Lottery. Although I was still disappointed, it was nothing like last year's groin kick. So like Chris Wallace and the rest of the Grizzlies staff, it is time to work without being given the easy road to talent and ticket sales. Fortunately for Grizz fans, this is not the 2007 NBA Draft. The talent gap between the top 2 and the field in 2007 was much wider than the talent gap of the top 2 and the field in the 2008 NBA Draft. I am positive that a future All Star will be available when it is the Memphis Grizzlies time to select a player. Now it is no coincidence that T-Mobile picked two of the best number 5 picks in NBA history, Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade, to represent them in their ad campaign. I am hoping that the Grizzlies selection in the 2008 NBA Draft enjoys similar success, both on and off the court, as Barkley and Wade.

1. Ovinton J'Anthony "O.J." Mayo - 6'5 PG/SG University of Southern California (USC)

O.J Mayo is probably one of the most polarizing figures in this draft. Much like Kobe Bryant, fans either love him to death or do not want him anywhere near their team's roster. I am of the former group. I think the biggest knock on O.J. Mayo has been that after all the hype, casual fans expected to see some Micheal Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant hybrid player that was going to revolutionize NBA basketball. Mayo is not that player. Add to that the fact that Mayo was played out of position by Tim Floyd at USC and taken off the ball for the first time in his career and the results were mixed. Mayo started off the college season very slow but had turned himself into the best shooting guard in college basketball by the end of the season. I don't think people have grasped the difficulty of this feat.

Why the Grizzlies should draft Mayo: Mayo is a big point guard that comes into the league with an advanced three point stroke and an ability to either score at will or get his teammates involved. Even at his size, Mayo has shown the capabilities to play shut down defense at both guard positions. Mayo also would bring a swagger to the Memphis Grizzlies that has not been here in the entire history of the organization. On the court confidence has been a big problem for the Grizzlies. Drafting Mayo also increases the value of one of our other assets: Juan Carlos Navarro. It is a struggle to play Navarro next to the smaller Conley or Lowry but next to the 6'5 Mayo, Navarro would be able to see more court time without being such a liability on defense. Mayo also allows the Grizzlies to keep Mike Miller and deal Conley for some much needed help on the inside.

Why the Grizzlies should NOT draft Mayo: Mayo's best NBA position is point guard and this would mark the 3rd year in a row that the Grizzlies will have drafted a point guard. Although Mayo is capable of playing the two, I think his best and most effective position will be at the point with the ball in his hands causing mismatch problems off the pick and roll. Drafting Mayo probably means trading both Conley and Lowry. I think one has to be traded anyway this summer so I guess it is not that big of an issue. Another issue is Mayo's image. Initially some of our fans will be turned off by the image of Mayo: selfish, arrogant, me-first player. I think this is all hype backlash. One thing I know about perceived bad guys, when you win the fans come out in droves...but if you are losing, he will get the brunt of the blame.

Draft Express O.J. Mayo Workout report

Draft Express O.J. Mayo Interview

ESPN's Chad Ford O.J. Mayo Interview

2. Anthony Randolph - 6'11 SF/PF Louisiana State University (LSU)

Anthony Randolph is probably the one player that is flying to low under the radar. Due to how bad the LSU Tigers were this season and their lack of TV games, most people have not seen him play in games. I did catch a few of his games this season because DraftExpress had him coming out early in the college season before it was known to most. So it really was not a shock to me when he declared. He had to deal with his coach getting fired mid season and a team that just seemed to be out there "balling" for most of the season.

Why the Grizzlies should draft Randolph: Randolph is going to be a nightmare for opposing power forwards on both ends of the court. Although he is very skinny, his length and athleticism will allow him to compete with bigger players until his strength catches up. He has a very long wing span with great ball anticipation and good lateral quickness that should make him able to guard every position except center. His ball hawking allows him to be a great off the ball shot blocker in the mode of Andrei Kerilenko of the Utah Jazz. On offense his ball handling ability and lethal first step will allow him to get to the rack against most power forwards while his length and mid-range jumper will keep him effective even against other hybrid forwards like Josh Smith and Lamar Odom. For a team that wants to run, having a power forward that can grab a rebound or blocked shot and lead the break himself is invaluable. Most power forwards simply wont be able to run with him and the quicker players won't be long enough to stop him from finishing. Did I mention he won't turn 19 until a month after the draft?

Why the Grizzlies should NOT draft Randolph: He is scrawny. Looking at his pictures, you can see he needs a lot of work in the weight room and the dining table. He will never be the bruiser that most Grizzlies fans are wanting after Pau Gasol's departure. However, he is very tenacious and competes on the inside. Randolph has not developed a 3pt shot. In fact, he was horrible in college from long range and probably is 3 years from being effective as a 3pt threat. Might struggle to play power forwards in the league on defense due to lack of strength.

3. Eric Gordon - 6'4 SG Indiana University

Eric Gordon was probably a lock for the #3 pick in January. He was simply sensational coming out of the gate for Indiana. However, he injured his wrist at the end of January and his shot left him. Shortly thereafter, his head coach Kelvin Sampson was dismissed and his fall was complete. For people who did not evaluate Gordon before the injury, it is understandable that they are not high on the kid. However, he was dominant prior to being injured and the two events (wrist injury/shooting slump) were to close not to be related. So I will believe what I saw early in the season and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Why the Grizzlies should draft Gordon: Coach Iavaroni has harped on our need for more shooting and Gordon is the best shooter in the draft. He has range out past the NBA three point line and shoots without effort. Gordon is not one dimensional. He was able to get to the free throw line at a very high clip do to his physical nature and his willingness to drive into contact. He shot 83% from the line. Gordon also has the athleticism to make up for his lack of true SG height. He is 6'3ish with very long arms. Gordon also was an AAU teammate of Conley.

Why the Grizzlies should NOT draft Gordon: He is not the prototypical size for an NBA shooting guard. Even with his athleticism, he might struggle to translate his game from college to the pros. The Grizzlies have a plethora of small guards and the need for another, despite his great stroke, is not that great. Is he that much of an upgrade over Navarro to warrant passing on some interior help?

4. Danilo Gallinari - 6'9 SF Armani Jeans Milano

Danilo Gallinari plays the same position as our best player Rudy Gay but at #5 you take best player available and it could be this Italian import. Unlike other young European players, he comes into the NBA after being the #1 option on his team at the tender age of 19. He is a capable ball handler and scorer that thrives off the pick and roll. More scorer than shooter, he has some point forward capabilities.

Why the Grizzlies should draft Gallinari: Gallinari has a history of being the big dog on his team and should not shrink from big moments. His ability to handle the rock from the wing would be very valuable. I like his fire and his will to compete. Measuring at a length to play power forward would be a plus.

Why the Grizzlies should NOT draft Gallinari: He plays the same position as Rudy which means it will be a struggle getting him minutes. He does not have a lethal shot from long range nor does he have a great rebounding ability. Would thrive in our system but likely only at SF and even then it is a question if he will have the athleticism to defend. Can the Grizzlies sell another Euro at a high pick to the Memphis fans?

5. Jerryd Bayless - 6'3 PG/SG University of Arizona

Originally I had DeAndre Jordan in this spot but I decided to switch because there is a chance that Jerryd Bayless will be available at five and I prefer him over Jordan despite our need for a center. Jerryd Bayless is very similar to OJ Mayo but unlike their reputation, Bayless has more of a scorers mentality. Bayless has the same explosive athleticism of Monta Ellis but he has legit NBA 3 point range to go with his stellar mid-range shot. I think he is more shooting guard than point guard but he has a lot of NBA in his game already. Very adept at getting his defender off balance with freezes and hesitation dribbles. Attacks relentlessly. Has star presence.

Why the Grizzlies should draft Bayless: Bayless would be a better alternative to over paying Monta Ellis in free agency. He is undersized as a shooting guard but in the right system, he could be very effective. He is a big time scorer and his ability to get to the free throw line will help his game translate to the NBA. Turmoil at Arizona hurt his college season but he was still the best player on that team easily. Has the aggressive mentality that the Grizzlies lack on the offensive end and should be able to close games out.

Why the Grizzlies should NOT draft Bayless: Just like Eric Gordon, at the end of the day, Bayless is still just 6'3. Even with his athleticism, he will have a transition period for being an effective scorer. Not particularly bulky nor is he a great defender. However, for anyone wanting to sign Monta Ellis in free agency, he is a lower risk proposition and should be just as effective. Bad fit with our point guards.

BallHype: hype it up!


hptmatt said...

great writeup X. Man that Bayless has booster rockets in his legs.

But X...don't you still think...NO MORE LITTLE NUGGETS (Chelsea Handler reference ;)) AT THE 2?

Understood that the athletic ability these two 6'3" suspects possess changes the calculus a bit...but as you say, they're still under 6'4"...

Mayo or Randolph, please.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of if Mayo plays better with the ball in his hands he is not a player that can make the other players better. When I think about pgs that are only good with the ball in their hands I think of Francis and Marbury. Both were dominate scores who were fun to watch, but eventually their coaches realized that sometimes you need your pg to distribute. I like Mayo and would draft him at 5 but not to play pg.

MemphisX said...

I said better with the ball in his hand. It is no different than Paul, Deron or Nash. He can be effective off the ball due to his shot. Heck, both of our PGs are worthless without the ball because they can't shoot.

TommyH said...

No man we should draft Mayo but let him play shooting guard and maybe a little bit of point. We can sign trade Juan Carlos Navarro and the 28th pick for Darrell Arthur or DeAndre Jordan. I mean with a core of Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur/DeAndre Jordan, and another lottery pick next year, we would be set to be a championship contender in the next 3 years. Also Mike Miller and Hakim Warrick could come off the bench and both be instant offense, which is what they are most suited to be.

Joshua Coleman said...

X, great post as always, but I do take exception to your assessment that both of our PG's (Conley and Lowry) are "worthless without the ball because they cannot shoot". Lowry exhibited near-perfect form in the second half of the season, having corrected a "hitch" in his shooting stroke.

Conley showed a greatly improved shooting touch in the latter stages of the season, especially from the perimeter.

Also, lest we forget, Tony Parker couldn't shoot early in his career either. That's worth keeping in mind, since that's who Conley is most often compared to.

Anonymous said...

When you use Paul, Deron or Nash as examples you realize those are maybe the 3 best point gaurds in the league. Sure they can all drop 30 any night but they are also tops in the league in assists. Thats the difference b/t Mayo and those guys. Unless he was just completely out of sorts in college he averaged more turnovers than assists. Like I said if he is going to play point it will be a Francis or Marbury pg and no where near a Nash, Paul , or Williams. Don't get me wrong I am all for having a player who is an icecold scorer, but at pg we have to have someone who can get Rudy and Mike the ball.

Anonymous said...

>Unlike other young European players, >he comes into the NBA after being >the #1 option on his team at the >tender age of 19.

You've shown a better grasp of potential picks than any paid sports analyst.
I asked a serbian friend who plays ball with us at the Y a couple years ago what he thought of Darko and he said that no one knows. He was third C on his senior team behind two veterans and barely got off the bench as opposed to a guy like Pedja who was tearing up the Greek league, Tony Longoria and Danni G.
Gallinari is a great talent, is cool under pressure and hustles a lot but he does play Rudy's spot and no, I dont see him playing PF and he might be too slow to cover at SG.

Shawn said...

The only problem I see with anything you stated was that Gallinari wasn't a deadly 3 pt shooter.

He shot 40.5 percent from 3 in the itallian league this year.

Bayless- 40.7
Gordon- 33.7
Mayo - 40.9
Beasely- 37.9
Love- .35


He seems pretty deadly in comparison...

MemphisX said...

Yeah but in the Euro league where the competition is a little tougher, his shooting numbers fell to mediocre levels: 42%FG, 32% 3FG.

For some perspective...Ansu Sesay shot a higher percentage on more attempts.

zack said...


Great stuff...I'm being honest when I say I consider you my most trusted source for Draft Evaluation as it relates to the Griz.

Keep up the great posts...maybe a fave 5 at 28?

I'm almost convinced now that Mayo is this year's Horford. Poor Griz...

Shawn said...

True on the Euro League, but which is a better comparison to college and his competitors for the 5th pick?

Add to that he is 19 and I dont see his shooting as a problem.

I do see his position as potential hang up. I am not sure how he fits with who we have. He and Gay are both versatile, but they still both prefer SF...

I like him, but i get the doubts.

Brandon said...

Go easy on young PGs and their shooting. Tony Parker wasn't known as a good shooter early in his career, and now he's developed into a darn good one.

The Gallinari assessment... I'm not too keen on him.

Anonymous said...

I don't the Grizzlies should draft another guard or another quasi guard. I think they need to dump 2 of the 3 point guards they have or else turn Crittenton over to a full time two guard. If OJ Mayo fell I'd be fine with Memphis drafting him because he has the size to play SG.

I'd like to see Memphis go with a big man. Kevin Love is the guy I want to see picked. Second choice would be Jordan, third Lopez.

I’m a big fan of Kevin Love. I think he’ll be an all-star caliber player or a borderline all-star. Someone similar to David West or a Memo Okur depending on how his body shapes up with the lost weight. I also believe him to be the surest thing in the draft once you get past the first two picks. Good jump shooter, some post skills, great pick and pop player, good on the elbow, very good passer, cerebral player. Good decision maker, rebounder, can handle the ball. So much to like. He’d be great in Iavaroni’s system with his shooting ability.

I'm a big admirer of Conley's ability. I think the team needs to get rid of the other young guards and develop him. I hate having two young players at the same position, especially point guard, first sign of inconsistency and their minutes plunge. It only holds back the development process. Bring in a veteran like Chris Duhon to play behind him. I though Conley had a really solid rookie season. He's the type of player that'll be much better with superior players around him because he's a pass first guard that gets everyone involved.

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