SBNation Mock Draft, Pick #5: Memphis Grizzlies

With the fifth pick in the 2008 NBA SBNation Mock Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies, represented by 3 Shades of Blue , select...

 

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Kevin Love, Power Forward/Center, UCLA. 6-9, 255 lbs.

 

3 Shades of Blue  says:

He's fat, he's slow, he's short, he's white....I've heard all the "negatives" about Kevin Love to this point from 1,001 different fans and experts.  While the Grizzlies fanbase at large (and many local media members) are advocating -- if not downright demanding --that the team trade up with the Miami Heat for the #2 pick (i.e. Michael Beasley) no matter what the cost is, I think they are missing out on a player who could be solid, if unspectacular, for the next decade or more.  As the Grizzlies reshape their roster, they need an anchor to keep things in place.  While he's not a "franchise changer" like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were labeled last year, he's very nearly on par with Al Horford, the 3rd pick in that draft.  The Memphis Grizzlies have desperately needed a solid presence in the post ever since fan favorite Lorenzen Wright became a shell of his former self after not receiving a contract extension.  Now when I say "solid", I don't mean someone who will give you 18/8/2 every night, as we saw from Pau Gasol during his tenure here.  I'm talking about someone who will take a hit on the arm while going up for a putback, make the bucket and then go to the line for the "and one".  I'm talking about someone who plays with intensity and a desire to win, even if that means swinging an elbow or two to secure a rebound or clear some space in the paint.  I'm talking about someone who has more than just a little of an "old school" mentality when it comes to playing the game.  I'm talking about Kevin Love.
 
For me, Kevin Love is a unique hybrid of Elton Brand/Bill Laimbeer/Karl Malone/Wes Unseld/Kevin McHale -- all post players who had solid, productive careers, even as their consistency rarely translated into the accolades their peers received, at least until late in their careers.  He's got great hands, solid footwork, well-above average passing out of the post and an honest-to-goodness mean streak when his competitive fires are stoked, which seems to be 95% of the time he's on the floor.  Unlike many players whose game is predicated on being bigger, stronger, quicker than their collegiate opponents, Love's game is based upon outthinking and outskilling his opponents.  His focus on the fundamentals brings a young Tim Duncan to mind.  Of the few Grizzlies fans that have endorsed selecting him at #5, most have remarked that he is reminiscent of former Beale Street denizen and fan favorite Shane Battier -- with a higher upside.  He has an exceptionally high basketball IQ, does all the little things that successful teams require to win close games and many of his most important "skills" go unnoticed by the casual fans of the game.  Because his game isn't built on the potential of him translating amazing physical ability into basketball skills, his bust potential is nearly non-existent.  His skillset is perfectly suited for the changing landscape of the NBA with his ability to step out to the perimeter allowing him to form a deadly pick and roll/pick and pop combination with Mike Conley....a photo negative of Stockton and Malone, if you will.  As I remember, those two were fairly successful for a small market with a team name that didn't seem to fit their locale, too.
 
He might not make the All-Star team or star in a Sportscenter highlight, but he'll never be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Olowokandi or Nikoloz Tskitishvilli either.  He's not the safe pick -- he's the smart pick, which makes him the right pick.

 

The New York Knicks, represented by Posting and Toasting , are on the clock.

The 2008 SB Nation Mock Draft so far:

1. Chicago Bulls- Blog-A-Bull: Derrick Rose

2. Miami Heat- Peninsula is Mightier: Michael Beasley

3. Minnesota Timberwolves- Canis Hoopus: OJ Mayo

4. Seattle Supersonics- Ridiculous Upside: Eric Gordon

5. Memphis Grizzlies- 3 Shades of Blue: Kevin Love

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