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Vancouver Grizzlies

The Vancouver (Memphis) Grizzlies (Express) are picking 6th.  Their GM for the 2001 Usenet Mock Draft is Jason Timperley who selects:

Jason Richardson, SG, 6'6", Michigan State


Vancouver had its most successful season in terms of winning games in 2000-2001 since joining the league in 1995-96, but they were still terrible! The Grizzlies 23-59 record was an improvement of just 1 win from the previous season. Vancouver's win/loss record for its entire 6 year existence stands at 101-359. The Grizzlies have one a dismal 22% of their total games played. Compare that to their fellow expansion team, the Toronto Raptors who had a 47-35 regular season record, qualifying for the playoffs for the second consecutive year. In fact, in their last two seasons the Raptors have had their most successful years, winning a combined 92 games to the Grizzlies 45.

As well as their consistent poor play, the Grizzlies 2000-01 season was dominated by rumors and off-court issues. With players complaining over court time (Othella Harrington, Grant Long) early in the season to the constant trade rumors that popped up in the media, involving almost every member of the team. Management and coaching staff commented that it wasn't happy with its chemistry in the starting 5 and wanted to make changes.

Eventually, a mid-season trade was made, shipping malcontent starting power forward to New York to release the log-jam at the PF position and allow some court time for #2 overall draft pick Stromile Swift. In return, reserve guard Erick Strickland joined the Grizzlies. Since then all is still not well, coaching staff has criticized starting point guard Mike Bibby for not being aggressive enough on the court and stepping up as a leader. The teams best player, Shareef Abdur-Rahim also has requested a trade this off-season if the team doesn't improve dramatically so look for a big shake-up of the Grizzlies team.

The lack of success on the court has led to lack of interest and financial support from the Vancouver community. Owner Michael Heisley revealed that since buying the team 2 years ago, for a reported $160 million, he has accumulated losses of between $35-$45 million. This fuelled speculation that he may try to relocate the team. This now seems a formality as the Grizzlies have virtually moved all their operations to Memphis where they will play from next season. A group of Memphis area businessmen (including AutoZone owner J.R. Hyde III) are set to purchase a 49% share of the team for $100 million to help absorb some of these losses.


  • 2000: Stromile Swift (2nd pick)
  • 1999: Steve Francis (2nd pick)
  • 1998: Mike Bibby (2nd pick) Felipe Lopez (24th pick)
  • 1997: Antonio Daniels (4th pick)
  • 1996: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (3rd pick) Roy Rodgers (22nd pick)
  • 1995: Bryant Reeves (5th pick)


The NBA draft is where you build a young team from, this is where the Grizz have gone wrong early in their existence. How does a team draft in the top 5 for 6 consecutive years and still have a win less than a third of its games? The franchise has drafted very poorly since its inception. 1995 was not a strong draft so the drafting of Reeves wasn't that terrible, however they have since signed him to a ridiculous contract, grossly overpaying him so that he is taking up a lot of their salary cap space, and making it almost impossible to trade him. Michael Finley and Theo Ratliff were still on the board when the Grizzlies drafted but a lot of other teams let them slip also so we wont be too hard on the Grizzlies for that (Ratliff went at #18, and Finley #21). 1996 was a good draft for the Grizzlies as they picked up Abdur-Rahim at #3, no complaints there. 1997 was a big problem, the Grizzlies took Antonio Daniels at #4 who is now with the San Antonio Spurs. Daniels is still yet to show he was worthy of such a high pick. Imagine if the Grizzlies had drafted either Tracy McGrady! Tim Thomas or Derek Anderson both would have been better choices than Daniels. In 1998, the Grizzlies picked their point guard of the future in Mike Bibby which was another solid choice, however they did pass on Vince Carter who has turned into a superstar. I think their biggest mistake was taking Steve Francis at #2 in 2000. Although Francis is a fantastic player, he made it clear to the Griz that he would not play in Vancouver and he was immediately traded to Houston. Instead the Grizzlies could have chosen Lamar Odom who wouldn't have caused a fuss. The only thing was is that Odom was projected to play the same position as Abdur-Rahim in the pros. The drafting has not been the only concern of this franchise, the team has also been unable to lure any quality free agents to Vancouver, with Grant Long being their best signing. Part of this could be because I can't imagine Vancouver would be a very attractive place for an NBA player with its cold temperature, poor team, lack of endorsement opportunities some of the factors. Maybe the move to Memphis may make it a little easier for the Grizzlies or whatever they choose to call themselves. The Grizzlies have also not been able to improve their team much by trades. Of the 14 players on the roster at the end of the season, only Michael Dickerson, Isaac Austin and Erick Strickland were acquired through trade. Reeves, Abdur-Rahim, Swift were drafted by Vancouver and the rest of the players don't really amount to much. This off-season requires the team to make a drastic overhaul of its playing roster. If it is not successful at making some good trades, heads may roll. To be fair, most of the power brokers of the franchise were not responsible for some of the early drafting mistakes, but they are now under a lot of pressure to make a difference. Michael Heisley (Owner), Billy Knight (General Manager), Dick Versace (President of Basketball Operations) and Sidney Lowe (Coach) are those under the most pressure to transform the team into a competitive unit now that the Vancouver era is over. The Management were in part responsible for some of the whining about playing time by over loading the team with power forwards at the start of the year. The team signed Tony Massenburg, and drafted Stromile Swift when they already had Othella Harrington and Grant Long manning the spot. Hopefully this season they can organize a balanced roster before the start of the season. Sidney Lowe did ok last year under a lot of stress. He managed to keep most people happy after the trade deadline. He will be given another chance to show what he can do this year.



Bryant Reeves C 7'0" 290lbs 28yrs 2001-02 salary $11,555,555

2000-01 stats: 75 Games, 48 Starts, 24.4mpg, 8.3ppg, 6.0rpg

Reeves is a big body. Very overpaid. Reeves has never really fulfilled the potential that had the Grizzlies draft him as their first ever selection in 1995. His scoring average has dropped in each of the last 3 seasons. The Grizzlies would love it if he can reproduce his form of his second and third years when he averaged 16ppg and 8rpg. He needs to use his strength and hit the boards hard to get more rebounds. He would be an ideal backup for a playoff calibre team. The Grizzlies would love to offload his huge salary but would likely have to include players like Abdur-Rahim and Bibby in a trade to make it happen. He will likely be back as the starting center next season.

Isaac Austin C 6'10" 270lbs 31yrs 2001-02 salary $5,448,242 (player option)

2000-01 stats: 52 Games, 16 Starts, 16.3mpg, 4.3ppg, 4.3rpg

Had a career year in 1997-98 with Miami and the Clippers, hasn't been able to reproduce that form since then. Struggled to get minutes for the Grizzlies last season and shot a terrible .356 from the field but can be a decent backup. Ike has can opt out of his contract to sign with a team that may give him a greater role but no team will offer him anything near to the $5.7 million that he will get if he stays. He will likely stay put, and see if he can increase his value when his contract expires at the end of the season.


Stromile Swift F 6'9" 225lbs 21yrs 2001-02 salary $3,401,601

2000-01 stats: 80 Games, 6 Starts, 16.4mpg, 4.9ppg, 3.6rpg

The #2 overall draft pick in the 2000 draft was brought along slowly last season. The starting position will be his to lose in training camp. Played very little last year but is very athletic and has a lot of potential. The team has labeled him as their PF of the future.

Tony Massenburg F/C 6'9" 250lbs 33yrs 2001-02 salary $1,500,000

2000-01 stats: 52 Games, 20 Starts, 15.8mpg, 4.5ppg, 4.0rpg

Signed the Grizzlies million dollar exception last season and ended the year as the starting power forward. Will likely play a backup role this season and will spend a little time spelling Reeves and Austin at the center position. In his last spell with Vancouver in 98-99 he averaged 11.2ppg. This reliable veteran will be back to contribute next season.

Grant Long F 6'9" 250lbs 35yrs 2001-02 salary $2,400,000 (player option)

2000-01 stats: 66 Games, 27 Starts, 22.8mpg, 6.0ppg, 4.2rpg

Veteran swing forward who is well past his prime but provides valuable leadership that the Grizzlies desparately need. Played some of power forward and small forward last season and will likely do the same next year. He has an option to get out of his contract and become a free agent but the Grizzlies will hope that he returns.


Shareef Abdur-Rahim F 6'9" 230lbs 24yrs 2001-02 salary $11,250,000

2001-01 stats: 81 Games, 81 Starts, 40.0mpg, 20.5ppg, 9.1rpg

Shareef is undoubtedly the star of the Grizzlies team. He finished the season playing small forward but also spent some time at power forward. He is a terrific rebounder and his range is improving so he could be one of the best small forwards in the league the next few years. Whether he is with the Grizzlies next year is another question. His agent Aaron Goodwin said in May that if the team doesn't make some drastic improvements he would demand a trade. Abdur-Rahim has averaged over 20 points for his last four seasons so if a trade did happen, the Grizzlies must ensure they get value in return.


Michael Dickerson SG 6'4" 190lbs 26yrs 2001-02 salary $1,940,702

2000-01 stats: 70 Games, 69 Starts, 37.4mpg, 16.3ppg, 3.3rpg

Dickerson has been a very good player for the Grizzlies since he was traded from Houston in the Francis deal. Although his numbers dropped a little last year he is still in the top half of shooting guards in the league. Because of his bargain salary he may be included in a deal in the off-season but if he stays he will be a solid player. If the Grizzlies choose to draft Jason Richardson, then it may be likely that they trade Dickerson to fill another need.

Erick Strickland G 6'3" 210lbs 27yrs 2001-02 salary $2,880,000 (player option)

2000-01 stats: 22 Games, 0 Starts, 18.6mpg, 6.4ppg, 3.5rpg

Strickland had an off-year last year, he struggled to get minutes when he was in New York and when he was traded to Vancouver mid-season, he couldn't find his shot. His shooting percentage was down from .433 in the 1999/2000 season to just .301 with the Grizzlies last year. He is a lot better shooter than that. After a full off-season with the team he may settle in better next year if he doesn't choose to opt out of his contract. If the Grizzlies trade Dickerson and draft Richardson, Strickland may be a chance to win the starting spot. In his last season with Dallas (1999/2000) he had a great year, averaging 12.8ppg as a starter and shooting .392 from behind the arc. Strickland can play both guard spots and will be a valuable part of the rotation if he chooses to stay.

Doug West G/F 6'6" 225lbs 34yrs Free agent

2000-01 stats: 15 Games, 6 Starts, 11.4mpg, 1.9ppg, 1.0rpg

This often injured, whining veteran has played out his contract and will not be re-signed. He had to play out of position at small forward on occasions but had no impact wherever he played. He was a decent player at his prime but that was long ago. Shot a terrible .289 in limited court time last year.

Kevin Edwards G 6'3" 210lbs 35yrs Free agent

2000-01 stats: 46 Games, 5 Starts, 13.8mpg, 3.5ppg, 1.8rpg

This veteran was brought back into the league as the Grizzlies were desperate for leadership. He, similar to West, had limited impact and will not be re-signed.


Mike Bibby PG 6'1" 190lbs 23yrs 2001-02 salary $4,174,898

2000-01 stats: 82 games, 82 Starts, 38.9mpg, 15.9ppg, 8.4apg

Bibby finished 4th in the league in assists/game last year and is one of the top few point guards of the future. He was criticized for not being aggressive enough when the Grizzlies were crying out for a leader. Bibby's shot has improved, so much so that he is now a threat from the outside. Like the rest of the Grizzlies starting five, it is rumored that he is on the trading block so it remains to be seen where he will be in 2001-02.

Damon Jones G 6'3" 185lbs 24yrs Free Agent

2000-01 stats: 71 Games, 10 Starts, 19.9mpg, 6.5ppg, 3.2apg

Jones played very well last season. He hit his shots, managed to score and distribute the ball when he was on the floor. Reportedly he is a very positive locker-room influence so I would not be surprised if he was offered another contract. Can spend time at both guard positions if required.

Brent Price PG 6'1" 185lbs 32yrs 2001-02 salary $3,680,000

2000-01 stats: 6 Games, 0 Starts, 5.0mpg, 2.2ppg, 0.8apg

Price played in just 30 minutes total last year as he was again struck down by injuries. He hasn't really found his niche since moving from Houston and if he wasn't signed for such a high salary he may have been waived. Vancouver certainly haven't got their money's worth out of him. He will really want to make an impact next season to save his career. He could be a good backup if he rediscovers his game.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf G 6'1" 162lbs 32yrs Free Agent

2000-01 stats: 41 Games, 0 Starts, 11.9mpg, 6.5ppg, 1.9apg

'The artist formally known as Chris Jackson' was signed after 2 years out of the league to give some scoring punch of the bench. He is a veteran who is known for his explosive scoring. He was a star in Denver between 1992 and 1996 but his 3-point shot wasn't dropping as much last year as his days as a nugget. Abdul-Rauf was never a good defender. A gamble last year, played ok but showed he was well past his best. He won't return next year.


This is very difficult to pick, as it is very likely that there will be at least one major trade, changing the makeup of the roster. As it stands at the moment, the team has a lot of needs. The major needs are rebounding and shotblocking where the team was 27th and 25th in the league last year. The Grizzlies would love to upgrade the starting center position. The team hopes that Stromile Swift will bloom when given court time so don't expect them to draft another power forward. The Grizzlies are crying out for leadership and big game experience, that is why it is vital that they retain Grant Long. The team finished the season with a total of 92 games of playoff experience between them. Of the five key players, Reeves, Swift, Abdur-Rahim, Dickerson and Bibby, only Dickerson has tasted any playoff court time, and he suited in only 4 games for Houston in 1999. They obviously will not get this experience from the draft, instead they will look to trades and free agency to satisfy that need. If Abdur-Rahim stays they may look to pickup a backup small forward who can shoot the 3-pointer to give them another option. The Grizzlies have four draft picks, if they do not trade them. I expect the Grizzlies to draft the best available player with the #6 overall choice (anyone except a power forward) and try to fill their other needs and add depth with the #27, #32 and #47.


A lot of mock drafts have Jason Richardson going to Vancouver at #6. The 6'6" Sophomore shooting guard from Michigan State has been compared a lot to Vince Carter. While I doubt he will be as good as Carter he has great athleticism and has a lot of potential. He reportedly is a good rebounder for his size and his shooting improved a great amount in his last season (he shot .402 on 3-pointers). He still needs to work on his jump shot and improve his strength. Don't expect him to dominate in his first year as he is still very experienced. His athletic game is quite suited to the NBA. There still may be some good big men available at #27 and #32.


I could have gone a number of directions with this pick. If the Grizzlies could have organized a draft day trade of Abdur-Rahim they could have selected a small forward like Shane Battier or Spaniard Pau Gasol. Battier would likely have the most immediate impact. It is still uncertain if Gasol would come to the NBA this year if he was drafted at #6 and the Grizzlies can't afford to wait. Rodney White is a swing forward who only spent one year at Charlotte University. He has reportedly caught the attention of Michael Jordan and the Wizards who may trade down to pick him up. He would make an interesting combination with Abdur-Rahim. If the Grizzlies wanted to go for size they could have selected high-schooler DeSagana Diop, although he is considered a project and scouts are concerned about possible foot problems. Vancouver is after some immediate help so Diop may be too much of a gamble. Loren Woods is a senior center who can block shots and play defense but this is probably a little high to select him.


Most mocks have the team taking Richardson. The consensus top 7 picks appear to be Eddie Griffin, Eddy Curry, Shane Battier, Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, Rodney White and Jason Richardson so the Grizzlies will get a shot at at least two of those players. Chandler is interesting because he is a 7'1" high schooler who is projected to be a small forward in the NBA. It is possible that he and Rodney White may be around when the Grizzlies select.


It is almost definite that the Grizzlies will be involved in a major trade before next season starts but it is almost impossible to guess who might go, no-one is safe. If I was Billy Knight I would not re-sign West, Edwards and Abdul-Rauf, but I would offer Damon Jones a minimum salary contract. I would also offer Brent Price to anyone who wants him as he doesn't warrant the $7.7 million he is due to receive over the next two years. I would also pray that Isaac Austin opts to become a free agent. The Grizzlies will be over the salary cap next season so will find it difficult to get any free agent help. To put them in a better position next season they should try anything possible to rid themselves of Reeves' and his massive contract.