This Is A Bigs Draft - But It Wouldn't Be Nothing - NOTHING! Without A Wing Or A Guard
James Brown said it best when describing the necessity for a woman in today's perceived "man's world" in his iconic song back in the 1960's. Brown understood that regardless of how men may view themselves and their roles in society back then, that they always did and always will need a woman to really make things whole. This same type of comparison can me be made looking at this years potential NBA draft class and the options that a team like the Memphis Grizzlies have to choose from.
It will be hard to find a mock draft draft that doesn't have five out of the top 10 picks choosing a power forward or a center. Some mocks even have four out of the top five players all being bigs. Players like projected number one overall pick Deandre Ayton, as well as uber-athletic, scoring and rebounding machine, Marvin Bagley, potentially defensively elite, "3&B" player Jaren Jackson Jr, the measurable madness that is Mo Bamba, and the high floor, low risk Wendell Carter all make this a unique class and a change of pace from perimeter oriented classes of the recent past. Many suggest that with so many potentially good bigs at the top of a very top heavy draft, that there may be a resurgence and a return to form of bigs coming back full circle to the top of the NBA - and I for one ain't buying it.
I'm not even buying it for Third St. prices. As I watch the NBA playoffs and look forward into the NBA Finals I definitely ain't buying it. Are these guys all good bigs? Of course. I'm on record as saying that I love Bagley's game and what he can bring to the Grizzlies. He screams "Memphis" and could not only fit in with what we already have but looks to be a piece that the franchise can build around going forward. But my mind and eyes also see not only where the league is headed, but where its been not just recently with teams like Golden St and Houston living and dying by the three-point shot but a league that for the majority of the past 20 years or so has been dominated by perimeter play almost to the point where teams dare you to put a big on the court.
Kobe's Lakers had Pau, and of course Tim Duncan won with Kawhi Leonard, and KG won with Pierce and Allen but when was the last team to win an NBA title where a big was clearly the best player on the team? Can a team with great bigs give perimeter teams matchup nightmares? Yeah, sure but what's the trade off when they spread you out and have your bigs running all over the court on defense. Every perimeter based team isn't Golden St or Houston of course but even mediocre to bad teams can make a big oriented team seem out dated. (see the past few Grizz seasons) When you watch the playoffs this season, ask yourself what players you could see being big in these huge moments? You may have named one big or so but I bet the rest were all wings and guards.
Although this years draft is packed with bigs at the top, I'm personally hoping that outside of Marvin Bagley, the Grizzlies end the night with either Luka Doncic, who over the last week or so has seemed to lose a lot of his luster and may be available at number four, the wildcard Michael Porter Jr. and the heavily dissected and critiqued Trae Young. I'm of the belief that any player that you pick at four shouldn't be based around fitting what you already have in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol but someone that should be a star or at least a potential star. If he fits well and helps now then cool, that's a bonus but you should not be drafting role players around a core like what we already have. He should be the first piece of a new core - a core that supersedes the previous core and it's limitations. A team that has desperately needed and chased adequate wing talent now has the golden opportunity to draft it’s own.
Doncic comes in as a heralded euro-phenom with a savvy, skilled and highly intelligent game. A boy doing the unthinkable in a man's league, Doncic, also comes with question marks that many under the hypnosis of his hype machine either failed to recognize or choose to ignore. His followers are an entertaining and loyal bunch that won't admit that his speed and quickness could definitely end to him not living up to the tremendous amount of hype that he's received. High expectation european wings also don't have a good track record in the NBA. In fact they have a horrible one. He could be a much better Evan Fournier, or a taller Ricky Rubio with a better jumpshot or he could be the next Manu Ginoboli or pick up where Drazen Petrovic's career drastically ended - or he could just be Mario Hezonja or any other failed euro-wing.
Michael Porter Jr. has the potential to be the best player in this draft period. He has a knack for scoring and has a feathery jump-shot but his Paul George and Kevin Durant comps seem a little lazy and premature based on simply being able to shoot and being a 6'11" wing. He had major back surgery for an injury that he said goes back to his early years in high school that are a serious red flag for a team like the Grizzlies but if his medical reports all come out clear and more importantly he chooses to release those to Memphis I could definitely see him being taken by the Grizzlies or even higher. When I watch the playoffs or the All Star Game I can see a player like Porter Jr. thriving and fitting in amongst the leagues best over any other perimeter player in this draft.
Trae Young did some phenomenal things early in his freshman season at Oklahoma that still are jaw dropping when you go back and look at them. He tied the NCAA single game assist record at 22, and broke several team and conference records. Once teams started to throw out non-traditional defenses at him based around double and triple teams he definitely came down to earth but even then he showed that he belongs among the elite perimeter players in this draft unless teams planning on playing box and one in the NBA. He’s often criticized for being small but actually measured taller than Alabama guard Collin Sexton who has a cult group of supporters in Memphis - I'll just leave that one alone though lol. Young is critiqued often and many say he will be a bust but I try to simplify things. I just don't see how being able to dribble, pass and shoot all at potentially elite levels doesn't translate to the NBA.
We won't know until June 21st at 6PM what direction the Grizzlies will go but as for this writer all that I, and James Brown can say is "Please, Please, PLEASE" don't fall for the trap lol. Take the perimeter player! Sing it with me!... "THIS IS A BIGS DRAFT!..."