- Here’s a list of the best Memphis Grizzlies’ picks in franchise history.
- Shane Battier leads the list of players Memphis selected through the draft.
- Other notable Grizzlies players include Mike Conley and Ja Morant.
The Memphis Grizzlies is a relatively new franchise in the NBA, as they joined the league as an expansion team in 1995 along with the Toronto Raptors. But unlike the Canada-based team, Memphis is still one of the five NBA teams never to reach the NBA Finals and one of 11 NBA teams that never won a championship, something that the Raptors accomplished in 2019.
Despite this lack of success as a franchise, they have still acquired players through the trade market and the NBA Draft to boost their NBA championship odds. Throughout their tenure in the league, the Grizzlies have shown a great eye for young talent because they were able to pick the players that helped them contend, especially in the stacked Western Conference.
Below is the list of the franchise ’s three best draft picks.
In 2001, Memphis selected Shane Battier as the sixth overall pick in the draft. The 6-foot-8 forward out of Duke immediately became a starter to the team and contributed an average of 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in his first year, which was good enough for an All-Rookie 1st Team appearance in 2002. Battier’s collegiate game translated well into the NBA, as he became a reliable two-way player.
This style of play helped the Grizzlies reach its first three campaigns in the playoffs from 2004 to 2006. Battier became an integral part of the team and contributed a decent average of 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 16 games. However, they were swept in all three postseason appearances and were booted out of the first round. Before Houston pursued a trade to get him from Memphis in 2006, Battier finished his first five seasons with the franchise with numbers of 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
One of the key members of the “Grit and Grind” era of Memphis during the 2010s was Mike Conley, who was selected as the fourth overall pick in 2007. The Ohio State standout was instantly put into the starting lineup, where he slowly improved his numbers year after year. The 6-foot-1 point guard played an essential role on the team by orchestrating plays for his teammates Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, and Rudy Gay.
Despite his small frame, Conley played a massive role in the suffocating defense that the Grizzlies utilized, making them famous during their “Grit and Grind” campaign. His best season for Memphis occurred during the 2016-17 season, as he averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. Conley also helped Memphis reach the postseason in seven straight seasons from 2011 to 2017. Conley racked up an average of 14.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in 788 games across 12 seasons for Memphis.
Ja Morant has been the most accomplished player in the Memphis Grizzlies franchise in terms of individual accolades since getting drafted as the second overall pick in 2019. The former Murray State star has revived the excitement of the fanbase with his unbelievable athleticism that produces highlight-reel dunks and plays. Morant produced an average of 17.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds to bag the Rookie of the Year award in 2020.
EVERY ANGLE OF JA MORANT'S UNBELIEVABLE DUNK OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE 😱📽️ pic.twitter.com/8u1j6ZNH3F
— NBA (@NBA) January 15, 2023
Morant already spearheaded three playoff campaigns in just four seasons with Memphis from 2021 to 2023. The 6-foot-2 point guard also won the Most Improved Player award in 2022, represented the team in two NBA All-Star Games, and was a member of the All-NBA 2nd Team in 2022. In 28 games, Morant has averaged an incredible number of 22.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds as he enters his prime years.
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