VOL. 130 | NO. 124 | Friday, June 26, 2015
Grizzlies Draft LSU’s Jarell Martin, Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison
By Don Wade
The Memphis Grizzlies needed more shooting and may have found at least some of it in two off-Broadway draft day trades. But with the 25th overall pick in the first round Thursday night, June 25, the Grizzlies went a different direction and chose 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward Jarell Martin from LSU.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
“Early on as a freshman he probably spent too much time out at the 3-point line, was intent on showing his small forward skills,” Grizzlies general Chris Wallace said. “But in the second half of this year in SEC play, Johnny Jones put him at the power forward position.
“He was dominant at times. Late in the year, he carried LSU when they had no margin to spare to get into the NCAA Tournament. ... He just has a vast array of talent in somebody that’s 6-foot-9 and playing the power forward position.”
The Grizzlies seem to be pretty stocked at power forward, with Zach Randolph starting there, and Jeff Green, JaMychal Green and Jarnell Stokes all available to play minutes at the four. Martin averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season and was a First-Team All-SEC pick.
You may also know Martin as the guy that threw down a between-the-legs dunk on the Florida Gators.
“We’d prefer he doesn’t do in-between-the-legs dunks in NBA games in the open court, but it was nice he could pull that off,” Wallace said.
Grizzlies Draft Review
Best pick: Point guard Mike Conley, fourth overall, in 2007 from Ohio State. Conley has been the floor general through the most successful run in franchise history. The Grizzlies also avoided the temptation to pass on Conley and “draft for need” even though they had used the 24th overall pick the previous season on point guard Kyle Lowry. Conley won the point guard battle here and he has been arguably the most valuable player during the “Grit and Grind” era.
Worst pick: Center Hasheem Thabeet (UConn) with the second overall selection in 2009. It wasn’t just that Thabeet couldn’t play, it was that the Grizzlies could have had James Harden or Stephen Curry.
Best draft night trade: In 2001, the Grizzlies shipped Shareef Abdur-Rahim and the draft rights to Jamaal Tinsley (27th overall) to Atlanta for the draft rights to Pau Gasol (third overall), Lorenzen Wright and Brevin Knight. Gasol won Rookie of the Year and became the team’s first All-Star in Memphis; Wright was a returning hometown hero; and Knight is still with the Grizzlies as a TV analyst.
Worst draft night trade: In 2008, the Grizzlies traded Kevin Love (fifth overall), Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins to Minnesota for the draft rights to O.J. Mayo (third overall), Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner. Mayo has been an NBA journeyman and Love a three-time All-Star.
After the pick was announced on ESPN, analyst Jay Bilas praised Martin for his “versatile offensive talent.” But Bilas also said Martin needed to improve on defense, including “effort on defense.”
Said Wallace: “Defensively, he’ll need work. It’s a huge transition on the defensive side of the ball. Everybody has to make it.”
The Grizzlies’ drafting of Martin was hardly their only move. During the second round Thursday night, the Grizzlies traded forward Jon Leuer to the Phoenix Suns for the draft rights to 6-foot-6 point guard Andrew Harrison out of Kentucky.
Harrison was the 44th overall pick and in two seasons playing for John Calipari averaged 10.1 points, 3.8 assists and shot 36.7 percent behind the arc. He figures to come to camp as the third point guard, behind starter Mike Conley and veteran Beno Udrih.
Wallace said the Grizzlies like Harrison’s ability to get into the lane on offense and believe he’ll be solid defensively, adding that they had Harrison ranked higher than 44 on their draft board.
Earlier on Thursday, the Grizzlies acquired small forward Matt Barnes from Charlotte for guard Luke Ridnour. Barnes, 35, averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Los Angeles Clippers last season while shooting 36.2 percent from 3-point distance.
“He has 3-point potential and can guard multiple positions,” Wallace said. “I think he’s a perfect fit with us. In essence, he’s our free agent pick up on the wing.”
Meantime, guard Cameron Payne (Lausanne) made the jump from virtual anonymity at Murray State to NBA Lottery pick, going 14th overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He wasted no time announcing his third-person presence, saying on national television, “There is no ceiling for Cameron Payne.”