The Memphis Grizzlies finished with the worst record in the NBA last season (18-64), good enough for the worst record in the franchise’s history. Despite the poor record, the Grizzlies drafted only a single player that they didn’t draft in 2018: California forward Jonah Bolden. The Grizzlies used their first round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on point guard De’Aaron Fox, so they actually were able to select two players they did not select in 2018: Bolden and guard Jevon Carter.
If you were a Memphis Grizzlies fan last week and you were hoping that they would pick your favorite player in the draft, you may have been a bit disappointed (though not entirely surprised). Because they did not, the Grizzlies came away with just one of four players they really wanted to have a future in the NBA. Here are the five players that the Grizzlies missed by pick number one.
Imagine what the Memphis Grizzlies could be. All teams make mistakes from time to time in the NBA draft, but the Grizzlies have been on the other end of the spectrum. Rapper Eminem said it best: You have a chance, a chance. The problem was that the Grizzlies were only one pick away from that opportunity.
The Grizzlies have never reached the NBA Finals, their last attempt was reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2013. If some of these players had made a different choice, we could now be talking about a dynasty as good as the Golden State Warriors.
PG – 2008 NBA Draft
Russell Westbrook was picked at No. 4; the Grizzlies picked Kevin Love at No. 5.
Mandatory credit : Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Grizzlies just missed out on their potential point guard of the future. Westbrook was selected by an already famous team, the Seattle Supersonics, a single pick before the Grizzlies. At No. 5, the Grizzlies picked Kevin Love, who has become a star but has never played a game for Memphis. After the draft, Love was traded along with Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for O.J. Mayo (the third pick in the draft), Antoine Walker, Marko Yarich and Greg Buckner.
For the Grizzlies, the deal never happened. Love became a multiple star and rebounding champion with the Timberwolves, while Mayo never acted as an All-Star. Westbrook and Love are both in the league, and Mayo hasn’t played since 2015. As for Westbrook, he ended up being MVP in 2017 and notched four triple-doubles in one season.
SG – 2018 NBA Draft
Luka Doncic was picked third; the Grizzlies chose Jaren Jackson Jr. fourth.
Doncic is so versatile that he can play both point guard and shooter. With Westbrook on this hypothetical team, Doncic has a free field to shoot wherever he wants. It would also give the Grizzlies two players who could potentially hit a triple-double a season.
Jackson never played more than 58 games a season and was constantly plagued by injuries. However, there is confidence that the 21-year-old can continue to perform at a high level. This level is still a far cry from what Doncic did in his first two seasons. Doncic had a season in which he averaged 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.6 assists, while Jackson featured in just 11 games.
SF – NBA Draft 2019
Zion Williamson was picked No. 1; the Grizzlies picked Ja Morant as No. 2.
There was no way the Grizzlies could get Williamson in the 2019 NBA Draft. Just goes to show you how close the Grizzlies were to getting him. While Williamson became the fourth youngest All-Star to start a game, the No. 2 won the 2020 Rookie of the Year award.
Morant recorded averages of 17.3 points and 7.3 assists in his rookie season. Last year, that number rose to 19.1 points and 7.4 assists. At 21 years old, Morant could become the face of the league alongside Williamson. Morant’s evolution has sparked a debate over who is number one.
PF – 2009 NBA Draft
Blake Griffin was picked as No. 1; the Grizzlies chose Hashim Thabit as No. 2.
Considering how close the Grizzlies were to acquiring a true superstar, it’s understandable that it was just bad luck. This election was a complete failure and is one of the greatest failures of all time. Thabit lasted five years, played in 224 games and averaged 2.4 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Griffin was a star at Oklahoma and would have been perfect for the Grizzlies. But the same goes for James Harden (#3), Tyreke Evans (#4), Ricky Rubio (#5), Steph Curry (#7) or DeMar DeRozan (#9). The Grizzlies were so close to Griffin, but chose their backup plan so poorly.
C – 2007 NBA Draft
Al Horford was picked third and the Grizzlies selected Mike Conley Jr. fourth.
To break through on the Grizzlies’ new team, Horford will need to play at the center position. Horford is a five-time All-Star and a respected NBA veteran. In 2021, he will be the longest-serving player on the Grizzlies’ roster. However, you can’t blame the Grizzlies for picking #4, especially since Marc Gasol will be the center of the team anyway.
Conley is one of the best players to ever wear the Memphis shirt. Conley is the all-time leader in games played, points, three-pointers from the field, assists and steals. However, the 2007 draft has created a domino effect. If there was no Conley, there would be no point guard. With the 2008 NBA Draft and Russell Westbrook at number one, a trade might be in the works.
In the end, we’ll never know. All we know is that the Grizzlies were close, but failed.
Merit for the idea: NBA Debate 1
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