While colleague Roland Tillery touts UConn’s 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet as Memphis’ likely pick as the no. 2 overall selection in this week’s NBA Draft, the Commercial-Appeal’s Jeff Calkins warns that if the Grizzlies opt for anyone other than PG Ricky Rubio, “they had better hope he’s a bust…It’ll be like the Pau Gasol trade, only worse.”
If the Grizzlies pick someone else, they better have a good reason. Most of the reasons you hear being tossed around these days don’t qualify:
1) Rubio isn’t the best fit.
Nobody has ever looked back and said, “Gee, we got the best player available at the time but I sure wish we had drafted a lesser player at a different position.”
You take the best player. Always. That’s especially true when you’re a team like the Grizzlies that can pick up pieces in trades and free agency, but has to get its stars through the draft.
Portland passed on Michael Jordan because he wasn’t the best fit. Everyone knows how that turned out.
Nobody is saying that Rubio is Jordan. But what if he is a more charismatic Chris Paul?
2) But the Grizzlies need help up front.
Where is it written that the Grizzlies have to fill all their holes with their first pick in the draft? They have two other picks, remember. And they have roughly $20 million to spend. They can go get help — better, more proven help than they’ll find in the draft — by signing a free agent or making a deal.
Carlos Boozer is going to be a free agent. Same with David Lee and Anderson Varajao. Emeka Okafor might be available in a trade.
Grizzlies owner Mike Heisley has said he won’t spend on old guys who won’t be around when the Grizzlies are ready to contend for a title. Well, Boozer is 27, and Lee, Varajao and Okafor are all 26. None will start to slide for at least five years.
Beyond that, they’re all power forwards, which is where the Grizzlies really need the help. If the Grizzlies don’t want to draft Rubio because they already have Conley, why would they draft Hasheem Thabeet when they already have Marc Gasol?
3) Fans don’t have the patience to wait for a young point guard to develop.
What fans? Seriously. What fans are we talking about?
Winning seven more games this year isn’t going to put anyone in FedExForum. Getting a dynamic star to pair with O.J. Mayo just might.