Welcome back to another edition of Flip This Franchise!
Looking back at the 2019-20 season, the Memphis Grizzlies made some serious progress from the previous rebuild a season before. As a refresher from last week’s blog, the Grizzlies went into the playoffs as a No. 7 seed and went on to beat the No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets in the series, 4-3. From then on, they went on to play the No. 6 seed Sacramento Kings where they ended up losing in 5 games, 4-1. Overall, the Grizzlies had turned a lot of heads by becoming the first No. 7 seed to beat a No. 2 seed since 2010. With that said, the Philadelphia 76ers went on to win the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz in a series of 4-2, with Ben Simmons taking the Finals MVP award. Looking forward, the Grizzlies had to decide what they were going to do in the offseason with some of their key players contracts expiring.
In that sense, players such as Caris LeVert (81 OVR) and Ivan Rabb (77 OVR) are on expiring contracts and will be in high demand, as they are young players with high-potential. So, it may be time to move on from both of them. At the same time, LeVert proved to be a significant asset as the starting SG for the Grizzlies in the 2019-20 season. At the same time, could there be better options elsewhere or in free agency that would be less expensive? As a player that is 25 years old at an 81 OVR, he could be demanding a contract over $10-15 million per year. Rabb on the other hand at a 77 OVR could be easier to bring back on a cheaper deal. But, Rabb is younger at 22 years old, and could want more money and years as a result of his age and potential. Both of these players are restricted free agents so depending on how much they both get offered, the Grizzlies will have an opportunity to match offers in free agency.
The other looming worry is the fact that the Nashville Stars, an expansion team, will be joining the league for the 2020-21 season. Because of that factor, the Grizzlies will also have to decide which players they would be okay with getting selected if it were to come down to that. It would also have to be players that are currently under contract for the 2020-21 season, which isn’t too many due to players being on team options that won’t count in that aspect. In that sense, most players that are on team options will all but most be brought back. However, players that are on smaller contracts such as Shake Milton and Elfrid Payton have the potential to be taken in the draft. With the Grizzlies already thin at the guard position, it will be crucial for the Grizzlies to then roll out a plan of attack to upgrade the position in the draft and free agency.
In terms of the draft, the Grizzlies have the rights to the Philadelphia 76ers 1st round pick, which happens to be at #31, while the new in-state rival Nashville Stars are at #4. With the top players in the draft (Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton, Anthony Edwards) projected to go in the top three, the Grizzlies must figure out what to do at the end of the first round. In terms of the past two drafts, the Grizzlies took Jaren Jackson Jr. in 2018 and Cam Reddish in 2019, both of whom proved to be cornerstone pieces for the franchise moving forward. It seems like any player they can select at pick #31 won’t have the same impact. However, that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a serviceable player moving forward. So without further ado, below I have included who the Grizzlies decided to select at #31.
Georgios Kalaitzakis? Giannis Antetokounmpo? Both sound the same to me and Giannis turned out to be a franchise player from Greece so why can’t Georgios? All jokes aside, I decided to take Georgios at #31 as he is still under contract for one more season in Europe and would still have time to develop for another year. At a 68 OVR, it will be crucial for Georgios to get as much time developing as possible. In 2K, when you take a player who is under contract overseas, their overall tends to go up a few points by the time the season ends. In that sense, I thought that taking Georgios would be a safe pick, especially considering how thin the team is at the SG position. Although, a 6’7” 185-lbs build is concerning, hopefully he is able to pack on some pounds during his year overseas.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Flip This Franchise as the Grizzlies head into free agency. With Butler, Jackson Jr., and Cousins owning the SF, PF, and C positions for years to come, the biggest question mark remains with the guard position. Will LeVert be too much to resign? Will Payton or Milton get taken in the expansion draft? Tweet me your opinions @christhorkilsen
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