Franklin scores ideal NBA home with Grizzlies

by Matthew Bain

07_08_13_Sports_Jamaal_MLWhat began as a seemingly disappointing result for former San Diego State junior guard Jamaal Franklin has unfolded into something quite wonderful.

Franklin, who is an extremely athletic guard, was projected to be picked anywhere from the mid to late first round of the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27. Franklin watched with fellow NBA former Aztecs, Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas, as team after team made stunning draft picks, starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers selecting the University of Nevada, Las Vegas forward Anthony Bennett first overall.

When Adam Silver, who is NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, finally announced Franklin’s name it was as the 41st overall selection by the Memphis Grizzlies, making him the first Aztec since Leonard in 2011 to be drafted in the NBA.

Should Franklin be disappointed? No. 100-percent no. In fact, this is probably the best thing that could have happened to him.

Yes, Franklin slid into the second round. However, he plays his best when he is doubted, so perhaps the slide will help his career. Also, more importantly, the Grizzlies don’t see Franklin as a second round choice.

Memphis tried to negotiate a trade into the late first round to select Franklin, but the negotiations fell through. Lo and behold, on an absolutely insane draft night, Franklin fell into the lap of the Grizzlies as the 41st overall pick. Memphis CEO, Jason Levien, told Memphis Media he feels very lucky to have been able to select Franklin and that he “[thanks} the basketball gods” for it.

Soon after Franklin heard his name announced, he received a call from the Grizzlies executives who, according to the Union-Tribune, told Franklin, “You’re our first round pick and we’re going to treat you like one.”

Those executives did not lie; they truly are thrilled to have Franklin. Levien told the Union-Tribune that “[Franklin is] going to add to our grit-and-grind mentality. [Franklin] is just a big-time competitor, big-time toughness at the highest levels.”

The Grizzlies have even given Franklin a nickname: “The Grindson.” Tony Allen, a Grizzlies player whose style of play Franklin admires, is nicknamed “The Grindfather,” and is the fan-favorite who coined the Memphis motto this year: “Grit and Grind.”

Before Franklin has even played one game, he is being identified as the younger version of the Grizzlies beloved Allen; he is seen as the young star who exemplifies what it means to be a Grizzly and that bodes very well for Franklin. In addition, Allen recently signed a 4-year extension with the Grizzlies, so Franklin will have an incredible opportunity to learn and play alongside him.

“The Grindson” is really a perfect nickname for Franklin. He plays with such determination, such will to stop his opponent no matter the cost. He is a defensive juggernaut with the capability to excite on offense. He grinds. There’s no other way to describe his style of play and that’s exactly how the Grizzlies play.

He’ll fit right in as a cog in what is becoming a very powerful machine in the Western Conference.

As a Grizzly Franklin will be playing and learning with Allen, arguably the best frontcourt in the Western Conference in Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph and a highly talented point guard Mike Conley.

He’ll be playing in a very exciting city where the people love their basketball. Games at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee are some of the loudest and most exciting professional atmospheres to experience.

Franklin’s rookie year prospects look very good. Most of the Memphis roster is set in stone: Conley at point guard, Gasol at center, Randolph at power forward, and Allen as a guard/forward. The fifth position on the court, shooting guard, isn’t as defined.

The Grizzlies’ best shooting guards are Jerryd Bayless and Tony Wroten. Both aren’t bad, but they definitively aren’t locks to start every night. I see Franklin competing with them for the starting shooting guard spot.

Even if he doesn’t start, Franklin will get significant minutes coming off the bench to play shooting guard, or even trade minutes with Quincy Pondexter and come in to replace Tony Allen at guard/forward. Franklin could even become the Grizzlies’ sixth man.

Honestly, the Grizzlies are perfect for Franklin. His style of play meshes wonderfully with that of Memphis and he’s being welcomed to the Grizzlies community as its prize of the 2013 NBA Draft. Things are looking very good for this former Aztec.

How did Franklin celebrate this successful draft? Well, according to the Union-Tribune he went to go workout at the gym to prepare for the NBA. That’s Franklin for you and that’s why he should have a successful career in the NBA.