On the eve of the NBA Draft, only one thing looks certain. The Chicago Bulls will select Derrick Rose with the first pick.
After that, your guess is as good as mine.
Whispers around league front offices indicate that the Miami Heat are not too thrilled about the prospect of taking Michael Beasley with the second overall pick. It appears Pat Riley might want to trade down.
Several teams reportedly have interest in acquiring that second pick, including the Clippers, the Timberwolves, and the SuperSonics. But the suitor that has the most to give and should push the hardest to make the move is the Memphis Grizzlies.
Oh, those frisky Grizzlies.
Just last January, they shipped their best player and patchiest facial hair, Pau Gasol, to the Lakers in a stink-bomb deal that can best be described as highway robbery. Sure they preserved their Spanish flavor by getting Gasol's brother Marc back in return—but the team got much, much worse in the process.
The Grizzlies finished with the third-worst record in the NBA, but bad luck handed them the fifth pick in the draft. In a draft that looks to have three or four potential stars, that's a terrible spot to be in.
That's why the Grizzlies need to make a move to select Beasley at number two.
The Gasol trade left Memphis with a glaring hole in the post. Aside from Hakim Warrick—who, at power forward, is out of position—they're left with stiffs like Darko Milicic, Jason Collins, and the ghost of Kwame Brown.
Beasley would be an instant offensive upgrade in the Grizzly frontcourt. He has an excellent shooting touch and a variety of low-post moves, which will frequently make him a target of double teams. This will open up the floor for Rudy Gay, an emerging star who seems poised to make The Leap this season with a little help from his teammates.
Memphis struggled last year on the glass, and Beasley will address that issue. Beasley has excellent rebounding instincts and a commitment to the boards. He should meet and exceed the rebounding numbers they lost after Gasol left last January.
The chance to draft Michael Beasley would give Memphis not only the short term benefit, but the long-term foundation to make a little noise in the super-competitive Western Conference. A dominant post player in Beasley, a deadly swingman in Gay, and one of their promising young point guards forms a core that a astute GM can build around.
And for a franchise that struggles to fill up the arena, they would have the star power to put fans in the seats that a player at the five-spot simply wouldn't bring to the table.
Neither Chicago nor Minnesota appear interested in moving down in the draft. The Bulls want Rose and the T'Wolves seem content with taking Beasley or Mayo, whichever falls to them.
That leaves Miami, a team with Dwayne Wade, Shawn Marion, and nothing else. They have holes all over. The Grizzlies have the spare parts to address these needs.
For the past several seasons, the Grizzlies have been stockpiling young point guards like the Hamburgler raiding a drive-thru. They've got Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, and Javaris Crittenton—all under the age of 22, and all of whom have shown flashes of potential. Any of these players would be quite enticing to a Miami team that started Chris Quinn 25 times last year.
Also, Miami sorely needs some firepower in the paint and behind the arc. Trading for Memphis' sharpshooter Mike Miller could address the latter. They could use the Grizzlies' spot at number five to address the former. Brook Lopez or Kevin Love will be available in that slot, both of whom should be valuable pros, even if they don't project to be All-Stars.
Clearly, the Grizzlies can put together an appealing offer. Miami gets the fifth pick this year, along with Mike Miller and the point guard of their choosing for the second overall pick.
No other team with the ability to match that offer has as much to gain as Memphis. The Clippers would be making a lateral move by going from Elton Brand to Beasley, while losing their spot at number seven. Corey Brewer of the T'Wolves or Chris Wilcox in Seattle don't bring enough to justify moving down.
Only one question remains: Does the Grizzlies' front office have the testicular fortitude to pull the trigger? The benefits are there. They have the bargaining chips. Grizzly fans better hope the answer is yes.
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