The onus here, though, is clearly on meddling Griz owner Michael Heisley. The basketball people definitely wanted to draft local Memphis standout Tyreke Evans, but were overruled by their boss. For some reason, Heisley bought into the old school theory about the need to draft centers – even longterm projects – even though far superior players were available.
If Evans had gone to the Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City had stuck with James Harden at No.3, I’m confident the Kings would have bypassed Thabeet (whew!) and selected a point guard – albeit, the wrong one. From all accounts, they would have drafted Jonny Flynn, leaving Stephen Curry for Golden State. As Doug Collins noted on TNT's telecast of the Nuggets-Warriors game earlier tonight, most NBA types failed pegged Curry as an undersized shooting guard and failed to appreciate his pure point guard skills.
via Kings Blog and Q&A: What if the Grizzlies hadn’t outsmarted themselves?.
Wait, hold on a second.
There. I feel better now.
You may remember the reason I broke up with Memphis while we were still “dating” before I committed to them this season.
I’ve also made it a habit of whenever Tweeting Memphis Games to make sure after analyzing Mike Conley’s latest unforced turnover and Thabeet’s third foul in four minutes to follow it up with “In unrelated news, (insert Tyreke Evans stat).”
It’s not that it was an obvious choice. I mean, it was. You had an all-world point guard with killer size coming out of the college in the same city. This isn’t rocket science. No, no, what kills is that this rookie class has turned out so well that it was such a difficult thing to do to miss!
James Harden, Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry, Jordan Hill (seriously, the guy gets almost no playing time and was traded for Tracy McGrady and was still a much better draft selection), DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Eric Maynor, Darren Collison, Omri Casspi, Rodrigue Beaubois, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington.
And those are just the guys we KNOW are better! I’d take Terrence Williams, Gerald Henderson, Tyler Hansbrough, Earl Clark, Austin Daye, James Johnson, Jrue Holiday or whatever pieces New York would have given up for Rubio!
The Grizzlies literally could NOT have picked a worse player with the #2 overall. Had the Clippers passed on Griffin, and he still have broken his kneecap, he still would have been a better pick! Two guys who haven’t even played were better selections! I’m reduced to ending paragraphs with exclamation marks!
It’s been that kind of season for the Grizzlies. Finally get a good lottery bounce, waste the draft pick completely. Find yourself in playoff position, don’t find a bench contributor or suitable point guard and watch the playoffs slip away. It’s not the worst that could happen; if the team outright sucked that would be way worse. But it’s just that they had such potential to set themselves up for long-term success, and instead they may hit August and wonder “what happened in the last eight months?”
One more note. There’s some discussion out there about this being a good thing for the D-League. That’s a lie. He’s there for ten days. The Grizzlies don’t have much to any interaction with Dakota. They’re not devoting time and money into the hybrid system. They didn’t do this back in November when they should have.
If Thabeet dominates, it just makes the D-League look bad by comparison. If Thabeet struggles, it just makes Thabeet look worse (“He can’t even compete with D-Leaguers!”). There’s no long-term development plan. There’s no concentrated effort to develop him slowly on a timeline. They’re just getting rid of him for ten days. There’s no upside to this.