But don't look now, the Memphis Grizzlies are making a case to be relevant again. Often overlooked are the Grizzlies youth brigade. None of their starting five are above 25. Led by runner-up rookie of the year OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley.
The Grizzlies have the No. 2 draft pick in this year's draft, as well as the 27th pick (via Orl) and the sixth pick in the second round. They came to the draft with the fourth worst record but gained the No. 2 draft pick with a stroke of luck.
Unlike the past drafts where was no consensus No. 1, this year's draft is sure to grab Oklahoma's premier power forward Blake Griffin. The talent level is not even close as projected to come in next are either Spain's Ricky Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet or Jordan Hill.
The Grizzlies have fared well in last year's draft, trading up from the fifth pick to get Mayo and releasing salary in letting go of Mike Miller and the fifth pick in the draft which Minnesota used to grab Kevin Love.
There are two main ways to analyze how teams are going to select: 1) they are going
to draft a player who fulfills their need or they will draft the best player regardless of position.
Drafting a player is determined by scrutinizing what the line-up doesn't have as well as the player that will best have an impact in that position. Now let us see the Memphis Grizzlies current roster:
NO. NAME POS AGE HT WT COLLEGE 2008 - 2009 SALARY
0 Darrell Arthur PF 21 6'9" 225 Kansas $977,160
7 Greg Buckner SG 32 6'4" 210 Clemson $4,010,005
11 Mike Conley PG 21 6'1" 180 Ohio State $3,630,480
33 Marc Gasol C 24 7'1" 265 $3,093,333
22 Rudy Gay SF 22 6'8" 222 Connecticut $2,579,400
15 Hamed Haddadi C 24 7'2" 254 $1,572,221
55 Marko Jaric GF 30 6'7" 224 $6,575,000
32 O.J. Mayo SG 21 6'4" 210 USC $3,875,040
4 Chris Mihm C 29 7'0" 265 Texas $2,500,000
3 Darius Miles SF 27 6'9" 235 $450,399
31 Darko Milicic C 23 7'0" 275 $7,020,000
13 Quinton Ross SF 28 6'6" 193 S. Methodist $797,581
21 Hakim Warrick PF 26 6'9" 219 Syracuse $2,119,102
29 Mike Wilks PG 30 5'10" 180 Rice $797,581
The next top three players aside from Blake Griffin are a point guard, a Center and a Power Forward. James Harden for me just doesn't fit into the Grizzlies equation.
If they are going to select Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio they are sure to stunt any development Conley has gained over the last season. Either player can't be moved to the SG position as it is Mayo's.
If they are going to draft Rubio, they might trade Conley after Conley teaches Rubio the ins and outs of playing the point in the NBA.
Both players are pass first players and none are scorers so the short term results won't be as big if they'll pick Rubio as some might expect owing to the fact there would be immediate chemistry between the him and fellow Spaniard Marc Gasol.
The possibility of him bolting back to Europe as former Grizzly, Juan Carlos Navarro did and the rumors swirling that Rubio doesn't want to play for them are big minuses.
If they are selecting Rudy Gay's fellow UConn 7'3' Hasheem Thabeet, they would be moving Marc Gasol to Power Forward. Marc can play power forward as he's been developing that mid-range jumper. Thabeet has led the nation in blocks in UConn and is projected as the next Dikembe Mutombo.
He would give the team a defensive presence as well the flexibility to get rid of Darko Millicic bloated three-year $21M contract which will expire next season. I've watched him in the semifinals of the NCAA and he hit the floor several times. He is too dependent on his height to block shots and doesn't use his feet much to defend.
On offense, he has a better hands than Kwame Brown. This is crucial as bigs need good hands to be ready to catch drop passes as well as grab contested rebounds. He would need to strengthen both his upper body and upper body to avoid being the next Manute Bol/Shawn Bradley.
Arizona's Jordan Hill has good hands, quickness, rebounding and shot blocking ability but his strength and mid-range jumper is not yet NBA ready. This concerns are big considering the NBA plays 82 gruelling games and the players are much stronger and bigger.
He can be pushed out of position and lesser opportunities to rebound and score. He may be available at either the 4th or fifth draft spot so if the Grizzlies will go for him, it will be wise to trade down.
If I were Grizzlies GM Wallace, I'd go with Hasheem Thabeet. He is not much of a gamble as much as Rubio and Hill is. I don't believe much in drafting by potential and I am not saying this just because he is big. You know that he can bring his height into the NBA and his defense would stay in the NBA.
The capacity of the Grizzlies to be at par with the OKC Thunder youth brigade would depend on this draft.