Dillon Brooks was drafted with the 45th pick in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets-who then traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies. He is coming off the most successful season of his career, leading the Oregon Ducks to the Final Four while receiving Co-Pac-12 Player of the Year Honors. Now, Brooks will take his talent to Beale Street in the hopes of making an impact for the Grizzlies.
Brooks suited up for the Grizzlies for the first time this summer in the Las Vegas Summer League, playing in 6 games where he chipped in 12.2 points to go along 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He not only displayed the scoring prowess he displayed at Oregon, but also NBA-level athleticism and play-making-both of which were concerns about him entering the Draft.
As previously mentioned, Brooks spent last season at Oregon where he led the Ducks to a 33-6 record (16-2 in Pac-12 play) and a share of the Pac-12 title. He was the leading scorer and one of the leaders of a veteran Ducks team that put together the most successful season in the program’s history since 1939. He averaged 16.1 points per game on 48.8% shooting with 40.1% from three. Brooks’ role with Oregon was that of an alpha dog who could be counted on to take the last shot when needed. In fact, he filled that role admirably, hitting game-winning shots over UCLA and Cal. Although he may not fill that role this season for the Grizz, it is good to know that Memphis has a new player who is not afraid to take the shot.
Most rookies have some growing pains to work through. Brooks likely won’t be any different. Since he signed a full NBA deal instead of a two-way deal with the NBA G-League, it stands to reason that Brooks will spend most of his rookie season between Memphis and Southaven, Mississippi with the Hustle. Seeing as how he is too small to guard the 4-spot outside of small-ball situations, he projects to spend most of his time at the three, backing up a presumably healthy Chandler Parsons and James Ennis III.
2017-18 Best Case Scenario:
The best scenario for Brooks would be carving out a role as a shooter coming off the bench. An ideal way for him to acclimate to the NBA is by finding his shot and letting the rest of his game find its way. It also doesn’t hurt that the Grizzlies could always use more players with the potential to catch fire from deep the way Brooks did at Oregon.
2017-18 Worst Case Scenario:
The worst scenario for Brooks is that his shot deserts him. He struggles to keep pace without being able to shoot and falls out of the rotation. He doesn’t get the playing time needed to help his development and the Grizzlies are left looking for more forwards to play in case Parson’s knees fail him again. If Brooks can’t carve out a niche as a scorer, he risks never being able to fill that role.
While Dillon Brooks certainly has potential, it’s important to limit our expectations as Grizzlies fans. As we have seen with players like Wade Baldwin IV and Jarell Martin, it can take time to adjust to the rigorous landscape of the NBA. If the players in front him remain healthy, it’s likely that Brooks starts out with a very small role in order to find his footing. It’s like learning to swim. Push him into the deep end and he might drown, never learning the skills he needs to keep himself afloat. However by limiting his exposure at first and gradually giving him more time and experience, Brooks could show us that he’s got what it takes to swim the treacherous waters of the NBA.