With less than 30 years of history to go by, the Memphis Grizzlies history of quality draft choices was never going to be as deep as some of their older opponents. But even for a side which only joined the league in 1995, there is a serious dearth of options to put on a list of the best draft choices the Grizzlies have ever made. As a result I've cut the list from ten to eight, but while it starts a little slow there are, at least, a couple of really good pick ups towards the top of the list, a couple of whom are playing a leading role in ushering in their exciting new era.

8. Shane Battier (Pick 6, 2001)

Battier was a quintessential glue guy, a player who was decent enough on offense, a strong defender, and who would make contributions well beyond the box score virtually every night. He spent the first five of his 13 seasons in the NBA with the Grizzlies, and the reliability which saw him play at least 78 games in each of those seasons extended beyond just his physical health. He burst out of the blocks in his first year, playing 39.7 minutes per game and averaging 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals, and while he wouldn't repeat those numbers again in Memphis – or in his NBA career at all – he continued to be a consistent and dependable presence on the team during their initial years in Memphis.

7. Mike Bibby (Pick 2, 1998)

At the time he was drafted, Mike Bibby was the highest pick the Grizzlies had ever had. Invariably that resulted in a lot of expectations, but he quickly showed he had the ability to live up to them, averaging 13.2 points and 6.5 assists in his first season and improving that to 15.9 points and 8.4 assists by his third. But just when he looked set to establish himself as one of the Grizzlies' early stars, he was gone. Bibby was traded to the Kings alongside Brent Price for Jason Williams and Nick Anderson in the summer of 2001, and went on to play ten more seasons in the league.

6. Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Pick 3, 1996)

Before Mike Bibby was the highest draft pick the Grizzlies had ever had, Shareef Abdur-Rahim owned that title having been selected with pick 3 in 1996. In fact, Abdur-Rahim was just their third pick ever, and he proved to be a pretty good one. He was a productive player as soon as he hit the NBA court, averaging 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in his first season. They were the lowest numbers he would ever average during his five-year tenure with the Grizzlies, with each of his ensuing four seasons yielding 20 or more points per game to go with plenty of rebounds. Unfortunately, in 2001 he was shipped off to the Hawks, and after having a similarly productive season there to what he had enjoyed over the previous few years with the Grizzlies, he was rewarded with his inaugural All-Star appearance.

5. Jaren Jackson Jr (Pick 4, 2018)

After a 22-win season in 2017-18, the Grizzlies picked up Jaren Jackson Jr with the fourth pick in the 2018 draft, and he has been a key cog behind their ascent up the standings over the past few years. Offensively Jackson Jr has plenty to give, as he's shown by his ability to consistently average close to 20 points per game throughout the course of his career, but it's at the other end of the floor where he really thrives. Blocks aren't everything, but he gets heaps of them – in his five seasons in the NBA to date he's averaged 1.4, 1.6, 1.6, 2.3 and then 3.0, the latter two being the most in the league. In those two seasons in which he led the league in blocks he was also named to the All-Defensive First Team, while in 2023 he was the Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson Jr has the potential to be a stalwart of the team as they enter what might be the most successful era of their team, and by the end of his career could easily be a lot higher on this list.

4. Rudy Gay (Pick 8, 2006)

Rudy Gay was technically drafted by Houston, but the Grizzlies had acquired the draft rights to him a couple of years earlier in what turned out to be a very fruitful move for the franchise. Gay averaged just 10.8 points in his first season, but in his next five full seasons in Memphis he'd average nearly double that every year, establishing himself as a really capable scorer for the team. He was far from perfect and his efficiency and style of play didn't necessarily lend itself to quality team basketball, but on a struggling team he was a valuable player for more than six years in Memphis. Partway through his seventh season with the team, Gay was traded to the Raptors – incidentally, that year the team went on to make the Conference Finals without him and with Mike Conley and Zach Randolph taking on more significant roles.

3. Ja Morant (Pick 2, 2019)

Hopefully, within a few years Ja Morant will find himself right at the top of this list. He flew up the draft board in the lead-up to his 2019 draft and the Grizzlies were the lucky recipients, selecting him behind Zion Williamson with the second pick. He wasted no time proving that it was the right pick for the team. In his first season, he won the Rookie of the Year Award. His second was similar and he picked up no silverware for it, which is noteworthy given that in his third he won the Most Improved Player Award, was voted to the All-NBA Second Team and was an All-Star for the first time, while he was also an All-Star last season. 2022-23 was, of course, marked by a controversy which will also see him miss a large chunk of the 2023-24 season, but having just turned 24 years of age Morant still has plenty of career left ahead of him, assuming he can find his way to the straight and narrow. Perhaps the most watchable player in the league, he has well and truly put the Grizzlies on the map, and if they find their way to the Promised Land in the coming years he will likely be a driving force behind it.

2. Mike Conley (Pick 4, 2007)

The list of Grizzlies' all-time statistical leaders is headlined by two players, and Conley is one of them. The fourth pick in the 2007 draft, Conley joined a struggling team which had won just 22 games the year he was drafted, and continued to struggle the first couple of seasons he was there. With him running the point as reliably as almost anyone in the league, however, they were able to gradually work their way up the Western Conference standings and became a consistent playoff presence during his 12-year tenure with the team. His list of accolades is a hell of a lot shorter than what he deserves and he never made the All-Star team during his time in Memphis, but he was voted to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2013 and by the conclusion of his time with the Grizzlies, had established himself as their games and points leader by a narrow margin over Marc Gasol, and their assists and steals leader by a country mile. Alongside the younger Gasol brother he is the most accomplished player in Grizzlies history, but the title of their best draft pick goes to another member of the Gasol clan.

1. Pau Gasol (Pick 3, 2001)

The fact that Pau Gasol's career in Memphis ended with him publicly stating his desire to be traded to the Lakers left a sour taste in the mouths of many Grizzlies fans, but there's no denying just how good a player he was for the team – and after he left it. He spent six and a half seasons in Memphis, a period during which he was the Rookie of the Year, and an All-Star. He averaged close to 20 points, ten boards and three or four dimes every season he was a Grizzly, helping to lead them from the bottom of the Western Conference when they first moved to Memphis, to a playoff team three seasons in a row – even if they were swept in the first round of all those playoffs. His leaving certainly didn't sit well with his adoring fans, but somewhat offsetting the hurt was the fact that his trade to the Lakers brought his younger brother Marc to the team, who would of course go on to have, alongside Conley, the best career in Grizzlies history to date. He might not have had quite as long a career as Conley with Memphis, but Pau Gasol is the best draft pick this team has ever made.