Well, I must admit that this was the best draft night in Grizzlies history. Not just because we got my favorite player in the draft, O. J. Mayo, but because for once the GM of the Grizzlies was active and aggressive. My continued faith in GM Chris Wallace even in the face of the unwarranted criticism of the Gasol trade has been rewarded in spades baby. We freaking got a player with some national name recognition. There isn't a basketball fan in the country unaware of Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo. Heck, the Grizzlies fans watching the draft at the 730 ESPN Draft party at Jason's Deli at Poplar and Highland were more than satisfied with Kevin Love and Donte Green. Clarity to the late night wheeling and dealing was brought by the Memphis Flyer's Chris Herrington all night. If you don't know by now, I am extremely happy with adding O.J. Mayo and Darrell Athur to our young roster.
O. J. Mayo
At the start of this season, I had Mayo at the top of my draft board. In January he was still at the top. Unfortunately, Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley passed him by with their stellar play down the stretch of the college season. I watched every game he played on television and rode the roller coaster of him adjusting to his new role on offense (off the ball) and his teammates. The one thing you noticed is that he took pride in defending the opponents best perimeter offensive player each and every night. I can not stress to Memphis fans how much Mayo's attitude is going to change the culture of that roster. All that lolly gagging crap is over. Between Conley (if he is not traded) and Mayo, there will be no more BSing around on the court. Effort will not be a question this season. Now he is not the next Kobe or LeBron athletically but he is right there with them mentally. He is the ultimate alpha dog. Mayo has always been elite on every level and against all competition, including NBA players. It is not a coincidence that he gets glowing endorsements from Kobe, Wade, LeBron and even Jalen Rose.
I had the chance to watch Arthur workout in Memphis and he was fairly impressive. At the time, I did not think that there was any way the Grizz would be able to select him. During that workout he was just to physical for Golden State Warrior draftee Anthony Randolph. He is not big but I think he will be a bruiser in the NBA. When he comes to play it is spectacular. He is one of the few players that Al Horford had difficulties with in college last season. He has hook shots with either hands, a good face up jumper and he finishes with power. He should be effective in the pick and roll. He also will be able to run the floor with our new perimeter trio. He is not the most instinctive rebounder and he is very foul prone. However, at his draft position he is an absolute steal. I think his long term future is as the first big off the bench on a contending team but the Grizzlies front court is nowhere at that level right now. Look for him to play early and often. He has had problems with consistent production in college, hopefully his draft day drop will inspire him to attack his NBA career with a sense of urgency.
All in all it was a good night, especially for the Grizz fans like me who really want and expect GM Chris Wallace to do great things in Memphis.
Next up...I think the summer leaguers will be reporting on July 7 for orientation and preparation for the Vegas Summer League. At this time, your first chance to see Mayo and Arthur (and hopefully Jamont Gordon) in a Grizz uniform will be on NBA TV.