Moments In Time: Vancouver Grizzlies
It’s funny when you look back and think about all the blunders that the Vancouver Grizzlies brass made when they stepped to the podium during their six NBA drafts, you would have thought that a infant was making the selections.
From overweight country bumpkins to selfcentered malcontents to a player with million dollar hops but a two cent basketball mentality, the Grizzlies success rate on draft night was about 33%, woefully higher than their 28% winning percentage while in Northwest Canada.
With the original 2011-2012 NBA season scheduled to tip off last night, due to the lockout, instead of watching the games and a new flock of rookies, I was left thinking back to what was part of the sorry saga that was, the Vancouver Grizzlies.
1995 – Bryant Reeves (6th overall)
While many feel that the Grizz and Raptors got the poop end of the stick for their inaugural draft, Vancouver did manage to come away with the best BIG man in the draft (McDyess and Wallace are more power forwards). Too deep on the board to take either of those two, or a straight out of high school KG, the Grizz looked for a pillar in the paint to work around.
While his first couple of seasons proved to be decent, going 13 and 7 as a rookie and then following that up with two seasons of 16 points and 8 boards, once his rookie contract expired and the front office pulled a tractor full of money up to his door to the tune of 6yrs, $61 million, the weight of the contract, not to mention body fat, took a toll on Reeves, the franchise and the fans.
Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda – Damon Stoudamire, Mike Finley
1996 – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (3rd overall)
Not a bad pick by the Grizzlies as part of what is argueably one of the best draft classes ever.
While Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant have had more time in the spotlight during their career and both are still active today, chasing another ring, the fans of Vancouver may have argued for the front office to select that little point guard guy from Victoria.
Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda – Allen, Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal
1997 – Antonio Daniels (4th overall)
In a weak draft class full of journey men and fillers (aside from Duncan, Billups and McGrady) the selection of Daniels wasn’t the worst that the Grizzlies could have made, but the problem was they wanted Daniels to play the point, a position that Daniels clearly wasn’t ready to handle. Daniels lasted only one season with the Grizzlies, before being replaced in the 98 draft, however, he would go on to become a decent “Robin” to other team’s “Batman”.
The silver lining for Daniels in the move out of town? He was part of the San Antonio Spurs team that won the championship in 1999.
Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda – Tony Battie, Tim Thomas, Tracy McGrady
1998 – Mike Bibby (2nd overall, held in Vancouver)
Still shafted out of obtaining the number one overall pick, and with good fortune, as one can only imagine that Stu Jackson would have envisioned a twin towers of Big Country and Olowokandi, the Grizzlies selection of Bibby attempted to solidify the three pillars (guard, forward, centre). Bibby, who lasted three seasons with the Grizz before their move to Memphis, found a place on the All-Rookie team.
After posting 13 points and 6 assists in his first season, Bibby’s last two years saw averages of 15 points and 8 assists, while starting and playing in every game during his three year tenure in Vancouver.
Although Bibby has not had the celebrated career as a number of his draft mates have had, he was certainly the best selection at the time for the Grizzlies and a huge improvement over their current backcourt of Daniels and Lee Mayberry.
Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda – Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce
1999 – Steve Francis (2nd overall)
If you have no idea how Francis and the Grizzlies relationship ended up, you must have been living under a rock during the 1999-2000 season.
Never could anyone imagine that the offer of millions, a starting position, the opportunity to have everything catered to you and being asked to live in a beautiful city, aside from the rain, for roughly eight months (considering the road trips and lack of post season, the players weren’t really in Vancouver all that long!) would make a grown man throw the worst temper tantrum in all of sports draft history.
The best thing about Francis, was his return that season with the Houston Rockets to a crowd peppering him with boos, rude comments and meeting with Antoine Carr as he drove the lane.
Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda – Lamar Odom, Wally Szczerbiak, Richard Hamilton, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, a bag of pucks
2000 – Stromile Swift (2nd overall)
The third straight second overall pick for the Grizzlies, the selection of Swift gave the team arguably the most athletic player in the draft (one which wasn’t very deep in All Star talent).
It also gave them one of the least intelligent players. Known to be slow in missing both offensive and defensive assignments, management hoped that they had found their power forward of the future.
While he started only six games during his rookie season and posted only 5 points and 4 rebounds, it was the style in which “Stro” scored most of those points that captured the attention of fan, often wrecking the rim for highlight dunks.
Swift followed the team down to Memphis, before bouncing around the league and eventually finding himself in jail.
Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda – Mike Miller, Jamal Crawford
At least we can watch Steve Francis dunking on Bryant Reeves. That’s always fun….right?