5(ish) targets for the Grizzlies in the 2018 draft

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 7: Mike Conley /
1 of 5

The Grizzlies suffered through a terrible season and were rewarded with a top pick. Who should they be targeting with the No. 4 pick in the draft?

The Grizzlies haven’t drafted in the top half of the first round since they had the No. 2 pick in 2009.

And that didn’t go well.

They made the staggeringly bad decision to take Hasheem Thabeet, a move that would roughly equate to investing heavily in Blockbuster around 2009 and choosing to spurn ground-floor opportunities with Amazon (Steph Curry), Netflix (James Harden) or Facebook (DeMar DeRozan). It was inexplicable at the time and it’s only gotten worse as the years have passed. They took a golden opportunity, doused it in kerosene, and hit it with a flamethrower a couple dozen times. But since enough other speculative investments have panned out over the years, the team’s still come out well ahead and it’s been easier to brush aside the 2009 debacle.

But nine years, five coaches, and two Gasol’s later, Chris Wallace, the financial wizard who bet on Blockbuster, is somehow still making investment decisions. Mike Conley, who is signed through 2021, just turned 30 and is coming off of foot surgery that cost him almost the entire 2017-18 season. Marc Gasol, at 33, is locked in for the next two seasons and unless the Grizzlies’ front office decides to move trade him, he essentially has a two-year window to get back to the playoffs.

Conley and Gasol have been the franchise’s two corner pieces most of the last decade. From 2011 through 2015, with other quality starters and several reliable bench players in supporting roles, Conley and Gasol helped lead the team out of the first round of the playoffs three of five seasons. Since then, between whiffs in free agency and the fact that only one of the last twelve players Wallace has drafted still being in the league, things have caught up with Memphis. Over the past three seasons, they’ve been swept in the first round twice and won a total of 22 games a season ago.

Conley, Gasol, and Chandler Parsons occupy $80 million in cap space so landing a marquis free agent isn’t in the budget. Whatever the team’s ceiling is for the next two to three years depends entirely on the health of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, whether or not young players like Dillon Brooks can continue to develop, and whether or not the team can take advantage of its top five pick in a loaded draft class.

Given the history we’re leading with, I’d trust Mark Goodfellow’s business acumen and sensibility more than I trust Chris Wallace, who will be making the decision.

Hopefully John Hollinger wrestles the draft card away when the Grizzlies are on the clock or Robert Pera reads this, kicks Wallace to the curb, and takes one of the following picks to help guide the Grizzlies back to the playoffs.