Don’t get me wrong, Garrett Temple is a great addition for this new-look Memphis Grizzlies.
He’s a high-IQ player that is a phenomenal veteran locker room presence. Flipping your two worst players — who were borderline untradable until the Kings did Kings things — for a good veteran that doesn’t suck and that’ll help the young guys in the locker room is a huge get.
Don’t be deceived though. It doesn’t mean Temple should be a starter for this year’s Memphis team.
It’s easy to have that idea, though. He’s steady and a veteran, and doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses — or really any elite skill to boast either. Temple is just a prototypical 3-and-D wing, but his 3-point shot isn’t exactly lethal.
The Grizzlies also have a young wing, Dillon Brooks, waiting...uhhh...in the wings. (Sorry I had to do it.)
The starting shooting guard position been an interesting August/September debate for some casual Grizzlies fans and bloggers alike. As previously stated, you have acquired this steady veteran player that can defend and shoot the 3-ball — because literally every perimeter player between 6’5” and 6’9” is a “3-and-D” wing now, despite their defensive or shooting abilities. Then, you have a bright young prospect, a rarity in Memphis for the past decade.
If you’ve read from this site for the past two months, you know where I stand on this issue. Dillon Brooks needs to be the starting shooting guard this season. Slotting him next to Mike Conley and Marc Gasol for the majority of his minutes only progresses his game and maximizes his skillset, as he won't be asked to do nearly as much since he’ll be surrounded by excellent playmakers. It could also be his one-way ticket to becoming an elite role player.
Where does this leave Garrett Temple?
In the second unit.
People may argue that starting Temple maximizes this season as the Memphis Grizzlies eye a playoff return. However, that may not be the case.
Can Temple really be a starting shooting guard on a playoff-caliber team?
Yes, Temple’s veteran wisdom and “3-and-D” play leads to the notion that he can start on a playoff team. The numbers suggest otherwise though.
Sure, his numbers in Sacramento were pretty nice, as he averaged 8.1 points on 38.3 shooting from deep, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in two seasons there. What was Sacramento playing for though?
That’s right, ping pong balls.
In his last season in Washington, he did get more time and contributed pretty regularly to a good team, but that was primarily because Bradley Beal missed 30 games of action. In his two prior seasons in Washington, he averaged a hair under 11 minutes a game. The Wizards made the playoffs in all 3 seasons with Temple, but he was completely out of the rotation when it came to playoffs — playing a total of 50 minutes in 20 career playoff games.
When you look at the advanced statistics, Temple doesn’t exactly stand out in many other areas. He’s never had a player efficiency rating (PER) above 15 — the league average. He’s never posted a positive Offensive Box Plus Minus. His average amount of win shares per season over the past 6 years is 1.52, which again isn’t particularly great.
For a frame of reference, Courtney Lee — a player that Temple supporters probably project him to become in Memphis — posted 4.8 win shares in one season and a positive BPM. Tony Allen had a PER that was just a shade under the league average, 3.76 win shares per season, and a killer Defensive Box Plus Minus of 2.6.
If the Grizzlies want to return to the playoff this season, and they believe that Temple is the 2-guard that could get them there, he’ll have to provide similar production to these two players. However, the numbers have shown that it’ll be hard for him to replicate that production, especially for a playoff team.
Don’t get me wrong, Garrett Temple could still be a valuable contributor for this year’s Grizzlies team. Putting Temple in the second unit with veterans like Shelvin Mack and Chandler Parsons could give the Grizzlies a formidable bench that could use these solid playmakers to maximize Jaren Jackson’s offensive production. This bench unit could even help propel the Grizzlies into the playoff picture.
In addition, Dillon Brooks is a decade younger, offers more upside as a scorer and defender, and is likely just as good, if not better than, Temple. Placing him in the starting lineup alongside All-Star caliber players like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley and great role players like JaMychal Green and Kyle Anderson could accelerate his development further. In the process, he could play within himself without being asked to do too much.
I know, we’re excited about Garrett Temple — honestly, we’d be excited over any return we got for Ben McLemore and Deyonta Davis. He offers excellent intangibles and steady play on the wing. However, don’t fool yourself. He hasn’t proven himself to be a starter-level contributor for a playoff team over his decade-long career.