Grizzlies’ 2012 draft remembered for passing on Draymond Green
Goeff Calkins, Ronald Tillery and Chris Herrington take a look at the Memphis Grizzlies pick in the 2012 NBA draft. The Commercial Appeal
Editor’s note: The Grizzlies don’t own a pick in the June 22 NBA draft. That could change but there is no rewriting the team’s draft history. We’ll take a look back and analyze the Grizzlies’ participation in the past 16 drafts.
After finishing 41-25 in the lockout-shortened previous season, good enough for the #4 seed in the West playoffs, the Grizzlies had the No. 25 pick in the 2012 draft. With the youngish core of a two-time playoff team in place, the Grizzlies could address one of their immediate needs (backup point guard and three-point shooting) or simply look to add talent.
What went down
After workouts that focused heavily on guards, the Grizzlies attempted to do both in one pick: Addressing a primary need (backup point guard) while taking a swing at high-upside talent. The team bypassed a couple of forwards, slipping projected lottery pick Perry Jones III (not seriously considered) and projected second-rounder Draymond Green, who had wowed in his Memphis workout and was probably the team’s runner-up. Instead they took freshman Washington guard Tony Wroten Jr., a dynamic athlete with an enticing combination of size and vision at point guard.
The Grizzlies didn’t have their second-round pick (No. 54), which had been sent to Philadelphia earlier in a trade for Marreese Speights. It was a pick well-spent.
Draft grade: C-
The 2012 draft was a perfect illustration of how inexact and difficult player evaluation and draft decision-making can be. Do you draft the best player at that moment or whom you think has the most long-term potential? How much do you factor in specific needs and the makeup of your roster?
Green had been brilliant in his local draft workout (this was the last season that media was allowed in) and as a veteran from an elite college program (Michigan State) was considered an NBA-ready player who could step into an immediate role on a playoff team like the Grizzlies.
But the Grizzlies were deep at Green’s projected position, power forward, with Zach Randolph, Darrell Arthur and Dante Cunningham all then on the roster. There was doubt Green could transition to playing small forward (in a fast-evolving league, he ended up shifting the other way, to center) and no-one thought he’d be a star. There’s a reason he lasted until pick No. 35 in the second round.
Wroten had an ostensibly clearer path to playing time after the team had juggled backup point guards the previous season, and seemed to have a higher ceiling as well.
Of course, Wroten’s raw skills and questionable coachability made his stay a short one. He played only 35 games as a rookie and was so bad the following summer that the Grizzlies cut bait. Green, by contrast, is a two-time All-Star who has emerged as one of the NBA’s most well-rounded players for the current champion Golden State Warriors.
As with the O.J. Mayo-Kevin Love decision a few years earlier, the Grizzlies bypassed “safe” in pursuit of a star, only to find that what had been considered merely safe would have actually yielded a star. These decision points often flip the other way. As Chuck Berry once sang, “it goes to show you never can tell.”
– Chris Herrington
Where are they now?
The profile on Wroten’s Twitter page reads: “Be back soon…”
That’s the story of Wroten’s basketball career given he’s never had staying power with any professional basketball team.
Wroten last played for the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League during the 2016-17 season. The Legends signed Wroten Dec. 1, 2016, and he made his debut in a 121–106 win over the Greensboro Swarm. He recorded 11 points, one rebound and one steal in 19 minutes off the bench.
Wroten was waived by the Legends on Jan. 28, 2017. He likely will emerge as a prospect during the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League in July when several former NBA players often appear attempting to resurrect their career.
– Ronald Tillery
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Editor’s note: The Grizzlies don’t own a pick in the June 22 NBA draft. That could change but there is no rewriting the team’s draft history. We’ll take a look back and analyze the Grizzlies’ participation in the past 16 drafts. After finishing 41-25 in the lockout-shortened previous