The Memphis Grizzlies’ season ended less than a month ago. Since then many fans have wondered what might have been, particularly since the team the Grizzlies battled ferociously – the Golden State Warriors – won the NBA title.
The road to a possible championship is front and center for Memphis as the Grizzlies prepare for the NBA Draft on Thursday evening.
Recent history has been good for the Grizzlies regarding the draft.
Three years ago, the team drafted Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke.
Two years ago, another gem was found in Desmond Bane.
And last year the team selected Ziaire Williams, who contributed significant minutes this past season.
Memphis has three picks in the draft: Number 22 and 27 in the first round and a second-round selection.
The Grizzlies took care of some administrative business last week when they extended their head coach Taylor Jenkins to a multi-year contract. Jenkins was hired June 11, 2019, has compiled a record of 128-99 and has reached the playoffs in the last two seasons.
The Grizzlies have established a franchise record for scoring average in each of Jenkins’ three seasons and averaged 115.6 in 2021-22.
During the exit interviews with the team, there were multiple expressions about how special the just completed season was and about how good it would be to keep the team in tact for another run for the upcoming season.
Reality check: it is most likely at least two key members of the team may not return next season, Kyle Anderson and Tyus Jones.
Jones received praised for how he led the team to a 26-7 record when he started in place of Morant. Jones will be most coveted by other teams to lead their offense. He has a great assist-to-turnover ratio and has become one of the best backup point guards in the league.
Anderson’s versatility and his willingness to accept any role that the coaching staff has asked of him are major plusses. However, his contract asking price may just be out of what the Grizzlies are willing to pay him considering they have a large contact extension in the amount of $186 million they will offer Morant in July.
Anderson averages 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.
There are many paths that the Grizzlies can go this year.
First, they can stand their ground and simply select the best players available with their two first-round picks.
Secondly, they can package this year’s picks and some players and try to move up to the coveted number 4 slot. This is projected to be one of the deepest drafts in a very long time.
Rumors and trade speculation have been running rampant since the season ended.
Dillon Brooks was the only rotational player who did not meet with the media as part of the exit interview process. Also, there was a sense that Anderson and Jones were meeting with the media for the last time as a member of the Grizzlies’ organization.
Two players in this year’s draft that may be on the Grizzlies’ radar are Jalen Duren and Kennedy Chandler.
Duren, a rim protector and physical player, could add a dynamic to the team when they face physical teams. Chandler could be a replacement for the departing Jones.
Grizzlies General Manager Zack Kleiman was named the NBA Executive of the Year and has earned the respect of the Grizzlies fan base by selecting and developing talent that other executives decided to pass on.
Kleiman has the base excited about what is to come with this year’s draft.
The draft site is Brooklyn, NY. It begins at 7 p.m. and all the excitement will be over by 11:30.