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VOL. 132 | NO. 128 | Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Grizzlies Grabbed Accomplished College Players in NBA Draft

By Don Wade

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In this Feb. 2, 2017 file photo, California’s Ivan Rabb, left, looks to shoot past Utah’s Lorenzo Bonam. The Memphis Grizzlies drafted Rabb with the 35th pick in the NBA Draft after trading next year’s second-round pick to the Orlando Magic. (AP File Photo/Ben Margot)

When last week’s NBA Draft tipped off, the Grizzlies were outsiders with no picks. It didn’t stay that way. General manager Chris Wallace had indicated weeks earlier the Grizzlies would approach this draft as if they had picks, adding, “You don’t know what opportunities will come your way in the 11th hour.”

Those opportunities turned out to be front court player Ivan Rabb (University of California) and guard Dillon Brooks, who led Oregon to the Final Four and was the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

To get Rabb, the Grizzlies sent Orlando a second-round pick next year. The Magic used their pick at No. 35 in the second round to take the 6-11 Rabb for Memphis. Rabb was a double-double machine at Cal, but likely would have been a lottery pick had he come out after his freshman season. His stock went down his sophomore season, which is what tends to happen the more exposure non-elite prospects have with NBA scouts.

Rabb averaged 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds this past season, but his field goal percentage slipped below 50 percent. Common criticisms of his game focus on concerns about his defense at the NBA level and obvious limited shooting range.

To get Brooks, the Grizzlies dealt another future second-round pick to Houston and the Rockets took him at No. 45 for Memphis. Brooks averaged 16.1 points per game last season and shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range. The latter is encouraging, but remember the NBA three is also longer and questions about Brooks’ athleticism means that he projects as more of a catch-and-shoot player.

Brooks beat out the likes of Washington’s Markelle Fultz (taken No. 1 overall by Philadelphia) and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball (No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers) for conference Player of the Year honors, but the NBA is all about what you can do tomorrow, not what you did yesterday at a lower level.

The Grizzlies also got Oregon’s Dillon Brooks with the 45th pick in the draft, trading a future second-round pick to the Houston Rockets to get Dillon. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

That said, Brooks injects youth into the Grizzlies’ wing position with Tony Allen, 35, and Vince Carter, 40, free agents as of July 1. Getting Rabb also raises questions about the future of unrestricted free agent power forward Zach Randolph and restricted free agent forward JaMychal Green. There seems to be a lot of thought that Green will sign elsewhere. Big man Brandan Wright’s displeasure with limited playing time could mean he will be on the move, too, despite a year left on his contract.

For what it’s worth, Bleacher Report gave the Grizzlies an “A” for making something out of nothing in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Grizzlies were judged more harshly (realistically?) at cbssports.com, getting a “B-.” The latter summed up the Grizzlies’ moves this way: “It’s not that the Grizzlies did anything wrong here, it’s just so … Grizzlies. Both Rabb and Brooks are known commodities who probably will become decent role players in the NBA, but sooner or later Memphis has to start planning for the future. In a deep draft, taking a swing on a potential high-ceiling guy (like Semi Ojeleye or Dwayne Bacon) rather than two high-floor guys might have been the smarter play.”

Truthfully, the Grizzlies don’t have a great track record in getting good rotation players. If that’s what Rabb and Brooks turn out to be, this draft probably goes down in Grizzlies’ history as at least “B+.”

Ojeleye, by the way, went at No. 37 to Boston. And Bacon went at No. 40 to New Orleans, but the Pelicans traded him to Charlotte. So track those players if you wish, and years from now let the grades fall where they may.

Tony Allen Selected to NBA All-Defensive Second Team

Allen’s money line is “First-team, all-defense.” He almost made it, finishing with the sixth-most total points in media voting. Overall, this was the guard’s sixth All-Defensive team selection, having previously been first-team three times and second-team twice.

Allen played in 71 games this season, his highest total since the 2012-13 season when he started all 79 games in which he appeared. He led the Grizzlies this season with 1.62 steals per game and his 3.1 steal percentage was tops in the NBA.

The NBA All-Defensive First Team: F Draymond Green, Golden State (198 points), C Rudy Gobert, Utah (196), F Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (192), G Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (140), and G Patrick Beverly, Houston (110).

The Second Team: Allen (80), G Danny Green, San Antonio (68), C Anthony Davis, New Orleans (58), F Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City (53), and F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee (35).

Allen received 17 first-team votes, worth two points, and 46 second-team votes worth one point. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley tallied five points, including one first-team vote, and center Marc Gasol had two second-team votes.

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