This article is a continuation of my series where I break down Dillon Brooks and his potential to become an elite role player. Last week, I discussed how he’s the most versatile wing on the Grizzlies and how they should capitalize on it. Next, we’ll move on to what kind of scorer he can become going forward.
Last season was definitely less than ideal.
Everyone thought we’d see the red-hot Mike Conley, always great Marc Gasol, resurgent Tyreke Evans, healthy Chandler Parsons and the charismatic David Fizdale triumphantly lead the Memphis Grizzlies to playoff prominence in the first season without Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. Instead, we saw the youthful Dillon Brooks, Andrew Harrison and Jarell Martin triumphantly lead the franchise to a top-five pick — which yielded arguably the most promising prospect in Memphis Grizzlies history.
When you’re tanking, most of the product is fool’s gold. The majority of the talent on the floor isn’t worthy of a NBA rotation spot — or even a roster spot. The go-to scorers aren’t really that good at what they’re tasked with doing.
It was certainly a case with the Memphis Grizzlies, as almost half of the players aren’t even on the team anymore — and probably won’t receive a role on their new team. However, what Dillon Brooks provided could be legitimate.
Brooks can be a dynamic scorer.
Granted, he shouldn’t be the go-to scorer on your team. On the other hand, he showed valuable offensive skills that would make him a great 4th option on a good team.
Unlike most elite role players, he can legitimately score on multiple levels — from downtown, off the dribble, at the rim and from mid-range. He also resembles some of these “elite role players” in the process.
Can Dillon Brooks be a dynamic scorer in this career? What is his ceiling offensively?
Brooks’ stereotypical role is as a “3-and-D” wing, and last season he flashed a nice outside shooting game. His 3-point percentage doesn’t jump off the page, as he shot 35.6 percent from deep — slightly above the league average. If you break down the splits though, you can find a player capable of becoming a 40-percent 3-point shooter.
He started out quite slow in October and November, as he was a lackluster 26.7 and 33.3 percent from deep, respectively. He also closed the season with a lower 3-point percentage — 25.8 percent in February, 34.8 in March and 34.4 in April. However, Brooks shot 43.2 percent from downtown in both December and January.
Sure, only two good months, so what? In October and November, he was adjusting to the NBA game, and his role was fluctuating from bench player to starter. From February to April, Brooks was really the only player capable of playmaking and creating his own shot, since Tyreke Evans was away from the team and Marc Gasol rested on back-to-back’s.
However, in December and January, Brooks was the beneficiary from Evans and Gasol’s superb playmaking skills, which is a more clear definition of his role going forward.
Next season, he’ll see minutes next to Mike Conley, Kyle Anderson and Marc Gasol, all phenomenal playmakers for their positions. In turn, Brooks will benefit from more open looks and less 3-pointers off the dribble, progressing towards becoming a lethal downtown threat.
If the Grizzlies’ coaching staff can establish a free-flowing offense with a starting 5 of Conley-Brooks-Anderson-Jackson-Gasol, they could run a Spurs-esque offense with Brooks fulfilling a role similar to — the good — Danny Green.
Unlike most “3-and-D” wings, Dillon Brooks has a budding mid-range game, possessing the potential to find his shot off the dribble.
Last season, he shot 44.5 percent between 3 and <10 feet, and 34.1 between 10 and <16 feet, and 29.5 percent from 16 feet and <3-pt range. Yes, he still has plenty of work to do in order to have a complete in-between game, but the elements are there.
He has a nice pull-up game that he’s flashed from both the mid-range and from deep:
In college, Brooks’ mid-range prowess was really put on display, as Oregon played him in the high post quite a bit. In those situations, Brooks would rise up around the elbows over smaller players, and it’s surely an area the Grizzlies should venture into — especially if they want to start him at the 2.
The mid-range game is an area that distinguishes a lot of great “3-and-D” wings (Khris Middleton) and solid “3-and-D” wings (Danny Green). Brooks’ improvement in this area will determine his ceiling.
For a guy that lacks explosive athleticism, Dillon Brooks knows how to finish at the rim, even when there’s contact. Last season, he shot 65.1 percent at the rim, which is a great sign for a wing.
The Grizzlies love using cutters around a great passer like Marc Gasol, an offensive skill that made Tony Allen more playable on that end of the floor. Last season, they used Brooks in a similar way, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it happen more and more next year.
The more intriguing aspect of his inside game is his ability to finish in traffic and with contact. He possesses a nice floater and an off-foot layup around the basket — two skills he should continue to build on.
Though Bogdanovic isn’t a great defender, Brooks still shows the willingness to bully defenders and finish with contact:
Dillon Brooks has that bulldog mentality, and with that, he’ll only become a more dangerous weapon inside. If he can improve on taking players off the dribble and finishing inside, the Grizzlies may find themselves the best wing they’ve ever had since Rudy Gay.
Dillon Brooks isn’t going to light up defenses for 25-30 points a night, because that’s not the type of player he is. However, that doesn’t stop him from being a dynamic 3rd or 4th scoring option — which is what the Memphis Grizzlies have needed for the past half-decade.
A healthy roster with more playmakers should make him a more lethal threat from deep, as he’ll get more spot-up opportunities. His inside game gives Gasol and Anderson a great cutter that’ll actually finish his opportunities. A better mid-range game though would give the Grizzlies a way to rest both Gasol and Conley at the same time without falling too far off.
Dillon Brooks has flashed elements of his game to become a dynamic scorer. If he can continue to add to his offensive game, he could become another Khris Middleton — a great two-way wing that can score on different levels. Reaching that ceiling would not only make him a good a complimentary piece next to Gasol and Conley, but he’ll also be a nice wing to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr. and whoever else the Grizzlies build the future around.
Stats found on basketball-reference.com.