The 2014 NBA Draft has had teams choosing from one of two strategies for years: choose the best player available, or draft based on immediate need.
The Memphis Grizzlies are not a rebuilding team, so the answer here should be pretty obvious. However, with changes in the front office happening this offseason and different views being expressed from ownership, the draft strategy may not be as clear in their eyes as it is to those watching from the outside.
The Grizzlies have had success in recent years, making it to the playoffs and even making it as far as the Western Conference Finals a few years ago. The Grizzlies have as solid of a trio of players as there is, with a low-post scorer in Zach Randolph, a defensive-minded center in Marc Gasol and a point guard capable of taking care of the ball and scoring when needed in Mike Conley. Together, these three players are able to utilize their strengths and overlap to create consistency on both ends of the floor, as well as work with the role players around them in order to have success in both the regular season and the playoffs. Tony Allen is as solid defensively as they come on the perimeter, and shooters Mike Miller, Courtney Lee and Nick Calathes are able to take care of the ball and spot up from beyond the arc to knockdown shots and keep the opposing defense on their toes enough in order to create opportunities inside for the big men, Randolph and Gasol.
Miller and Randolph can both be free agents this upcoming offseason, but assuming both stay with the team, then the Grizzlies have some major pieces in place to contend in the Western Conference.
With that in mind, the Grizzlies still lack one major thing in order to be more consistent on offense: shooting.
The Grizzlies can find shooting in the offseason in terms of veteran role players, but if the team wants to get a little younger and fill a need, then the NBA Draft has a good number of shooters who can come in and make an impact right away. Cleanthony Early, Shabazz Napier, P.J. Hairston and Rodney Hood could all potentially be available to the Grizzlies on draft night, and the goal for a team that could be contending for a championship should be to draft for need. There is no reason for the Grizzlies to pass up on one of these perimeter players, as each of them are experienced enough to come in right away and pick up an offense in order to make an impact on the floor. Each of these players also have the potential to be great on the defensive end at their respective positions as well, which adds to the Grizzlies’ style of grit-and-grind.
Teams are sometimes tempted to take the best player available even if that player does not fill a need because of the potential reward that can come later down the road. For a team that wants to win now and does not have the time to spend, drafting for need is the best way to go, especially when the draft is filled with players that can come in and fill that specific void.
Just keep it simple, Grizzlies. Draft someone who can shoot the ball from deep and help out your post players.