A year ago, Grizz Nation was still buzzing about the “Summer of Selden.”
On March 8th, 2017, the New Orleans Pelicans signed Wayne Selden Jr. to a 10-day contract. When the Pelicans declined to extend him, Selden immediately signed with the Grizzlies for the rest of the season. Injuries had began to take their toll, and fresh legs were needed. As a result, Selden was looked at as an immediate contributor, and saw his role increase over the final 11 games of the season.
The Grizzlies finished seventh in the West, and earned a matchup against the rival San Antonio Spurs. While they would lose the series in six games, they were competitive. One of the highlights for the Grizzlies was Wayne Selden’s defense against Kawhi Leonard. Selden’s performance opened the eyes of many, and allowed him to work his way into the Grizzlies plans going into the offseason.
A few months later, the momentum from the playoff performance absolutely skyrocketed. In the 2017 Summer League, Selden took full advantage of having a featured role. Averaging the fourth highest scoring numbers in the Summer League, Selden led the Grizzlies to the semi-finals. His performance earned him All Summer League Second Team Honors. Furthermore, Selden had not only earned himself a spot on the 2017-2018 roster. but was likely to be relied on for significant production. In four months, Selden had gone from being declined a 10-day contract to potential key reserve for a playoff contender.
As the season drew closer, Tony Allen signed a one year deal with the Pelicans. The most obvious benefactor of the available playing time was Selden. Some even speculated he could be an opening night starter. Unfortunately, Selden injured his quad a few weeks before the season began. The injury would prove to be significant, causing Selden to miss 34 of the first 37 games of the season. Not only did the Grizzlies miss the potential impact Selden could make, Selden had missed a golden opportunity to establish his NBA career.
Despite the disappointment, Selden would return for the second half of the year. Overall, Selden played 35 games last year. While the injury made Selden’s season a bit of a disappointment, there were certainly some positives. For one, Selden flashed his significant scoring talent. As many had long knew, his elite athleticism allowed for him to display an effective dribble drive game.
Beyond that, and to the surprise of many, Selden also displayed a reliable 3 point stroke. In fact, Selden made over 40% of his threes, at a clip of nearly 2 a game. In the final 10 games he appeared in, Selden averaged 23 minutes per game. In that span, Selden averaged 14.8 points, 2.2 threes, made 49% of his threes, 52% of his field goals, and 80% of his free three throws. While it was a small sample size, Selden displayed his ability to provide instant offense.
Selden comes into the 2018-2019 in a more quiet, but thankfully more healthy, manner than a year ago. However, the one significant change between this year and last year is Selden’s path to playing time is much more crowded. With the emergence of Dillon Brooks, the late season arrival of MarShon Brooks, and the addition of Garrett Temple, shooting guard is the least clear position on the Grizzlies depth chart. As it stands, speculation is that Dillon Brooks or Temple will start. The other will likely be one of the first options off the bench. MarShon is viewed as being the offensive spark plug for the reserves. While nothing is concrete, Selden seems destined for the bench to begin the season. This likely means 8-12 minutes a game for Selden, a reduced role from last year.
Best Case Scenario
Selden’s best case scenario is simple. Through injuries or ineffective play by others, Selden sees his role grow to one similar to the end of last year. And just like last year, Selden is able to provide instant offense to keep the Grizzlies in games when the starters are resting. Furthermore, Selden again flashes his defensive potential.
While it may not be the best for Selden individually, a deep roster should provide plenty of positives for the Grizzlies as a team. One ideal is that more quality pieces will allow the starters to rest more. Increased rest should decrease the risk of significant injury. This will be a much easier concept to implement if the bench can provide offense. For Selden, that means always being mentally ready. If Selden can play similar offense to last year and perform to his potential on defense, they will gladly increase his role.
Obviously, the nightmare for Selden and the Grizzlies will be another injury filled season. While Selden has had success in NBA games, his career development has been impacted by injuries. It significantly impacted him leading up to being drafted, and again took away his best opportunity for a significant role last year. Taking the necessary steps to keep his body healthy will be a critical component to Selden’s season.
Also of note is having an effective mental approach to his role. While its hard to put value on mentality, there is some cause for concern for Selden in a limited role. When Selden plays 15 minute or less, his effectiveness drops. If he struggles in the limited minutes he will receive, it may take multiple injuries for him to make an impact. At that point, his talent could be wasted in another lost season.
Wayne Selden’s 24th birthday was Sunday. Between injuries and bad luck, Selden is still very young, both naturally and in his development. One important thing to remember is Selden is very naturally talented, having been ranked 14th nationally in the class of 2013. Wayne Selden has the talent to be a significant contributor to the Grizzlies’ success.
While he may be buried on the depth chart, the main strength of Selden game is scoring. That is one of the big questions marks for the Grizzlies entering the season. Selden’s ability to shoot the three and attack the basket will likely be needed to win games against the league’s better offenses. As a result, there is a high likelihood his minutes will need to be increased as the season goes along.
Furthermore, many of his backcourt mates are not signed beyond this year. These two factors provide plenty of incentive for Selden to perform well, and play his way into the Grizzles’ future plans. As he as has when featured in the past, I expect Wayne Selden to once again be a clear positive for the Grizzlies. His play will allow for him to become a key contributor for this and future Grizzlies teams.