The Memphis Grizzlies have been a bad to mediocre three point shooting team for as long as any of us can remember. This has been the theme every offseason, trade deadline, and training camp for the Grizzlies - they needed more shooting. It’s something that they have been trying to correct for so long - looking for that one player to come in and be a sharpshooter to keep the defense honest. During the “Core Four” era with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol playing in the post, they needed more shooting to space the floor and prevent the defense from sagging into the paint. The best chance they’ve had at being a legitimate three point threat was Courtney Lee, but he would never take the volume of shots that the team needed him to take.
Over the last few years the Grizzlies have been quietly acquiring players that are good three point shooters. The players on the roster are not knock-down three point shooters, but a lot of them are good and have the ability to catch fire on a nightly basis that could add a very different dimension to the Grizzlies team this year.
Chandler Parsons has yet to live up to the hype for any season since signing his max contract with the Grizzlies. Parsons has been an excellent three point shooter over the course of his career, which is in large part why the Grizzlies signed him in the first place. Last year he only played 36 games, two more than his previous year. Parsons has been hurt more than anyone since coming to Memphis, but last year he was held out of a lot of games that he probably could have played.
When he did play last year though, he was actually pretty good, and no one can forget the night he dropped 24 points on 6 of 8 shooting from behind the arc. This was during one of the awesome wins at the beginning of the season, and Parsons shot 46% from three in his limited play last year. If Chandler can play even half of the games this year and provide that same shooting during games, the Grizzlies could have some great lineup combinations.
Garrett Temple is a new acquisition in the offseason in a trade that sent Ben McLemore and Deyonta Davis to the Kings. Temple has played with a lot of teams in his career, grinding every season out, and has continually worked on his three point shot throughout his time in the NBA. In his time with the Washington Wizards, Temple took just over 3 shots per game from behind the arc and shot 34%, and in his first year with the Sacramento Kings he took 3.5 three’s per game and shot 37%. Last season with the Kings, he took the same amount of threes for the Kings, but his percentage jumped to 39%. Temple has improved every year for the last few years and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue for the Grizzlies.
Mike Conley is the captain of the Grizzlies, the player that is always consistent, even with his three point shooting. Last year was a lost cause due to injury for the franchise cornerstone, but looking back to just two seasons ago, Conley shot 40% from three on an incredible six attempts per game. Those were both career highs for Mike Conley, and if his health is consistent, he should continue that shooting into this season. Last year in his few games with the team, he still shot over 6 threes per game but his percentage dropped a little to only 38%, something that can be attributed somewhat to his foot injury.
Wayne Selden Jr.
Wayne Selden is another player with a limited sample size to look at, but he is a prototypical 3 and D player in the NBA. He is someone that has the size and athleticism to be a true shooting guard in the league, but that has yet to be determined. He was hurt most of last year, but in that short span he took just over three attempts per game, and shot over 40% from three. He only played in 35 games and a lot of those games he looked lost on defense, or just generally out of shape which makes sense for a player that sat out most of the season because of an injury.
This year will be the determining factor as to whether Selden can play in the NBA or not, but if this small sample size is anything, then he should add even more shooting to an already stacked guard lineup.
MarShon Brooks was signed last year in mid-March and he came into the league and lit it on fire with his play. He only played seven games last year for the Grizzlies, but shot almost 60% from three on over four three’s per game. This cannot be sustainable in a league with some great defenders, and it won’t happen next year. Frankly, the jury is very much still out on Brooks as a competent NBA player after he spent the last four years in China. If Brooks can continue to show even half of what he did last year in terms of three point shooting, then he will be a much-needed addition to counter the Grizzlies’ lack of three point shooting.
The problem for Brooks will be how he handles facing better competition on a nightly basis.
Omri Casspi is another player that was acquired this offseason through free agency. Casspi signed for the veteran minimum and will be headed into his tenth year as an NBA player. Casspi is historically a spot up three point shooter with a quality percentage over his career; the only problem is the amount of attempts. He has barely averaged over 2 three point attempts throughout his career. While Casspi is clearly a good shooter, he will need to take more shots per game to become a serious threat in the offense. His role will most likely be filling in when Chandler Parsons is limited in games, but if he can increase his shooting in spot up situations, his minutes and role could increase significantly throughout the season.
Marc Gasol was never a traditional big who can step out and shoot threes, but when David Fizdale was hired as the head coach in Memphis, that’s exactly what he asked of Gasol. Over the last two years Marc has become a steady three point shooter, averaging four attempts per game and shooting close to 36%, which by big man standards, is pretty good. This should continue into this year as Marc gets older. That is one part of the game that he can rely on, and hopefully it will only get better.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
The potential for Jaren Jackson Jr. to be good to great is pretty high right now in Memphis. After a great showing in NBA Summer League, he will look to continue that trend into the regular season as a rookie. His college three point shooting was not bad at all, shooting at a 40% clip throughout his time at Michigan State, but as we all know, that is not always an indicator of a good three point shooter in the NBA. There are much better defenders who are quicker, stronger, and more athletic than anyone he’s faced before. There will be an adjustment period for the rookie, but if he can have the same range that he showed off in Summer League, there is serious potential for JJJ to be a legit three point threat.
The Grizzlies shot just over 35% from beyond the arc last year for the season, good for 25th in the NBA. Over the last decade they’ve only cracked the top 15 once, and that was two years ago when they were 15th. They have a chance to be a good three point shooting team this year, and have quietly assembled some quality shooters. Players like Shelvin Mack and Dillon Brooks can also hit the three when they are open, but did not even get included in this article because I didn’t feel they were consistent enough as a shooter.
That just gives you an example of how many players they have this year that could be that knock down shooter they have been chasing for years. The added ability to knock down shots in an offense gives you the ability to have so many different lineup combinations on the floor with multiple shooters. They can play small with JJJ at the center position and have almost every other position out there manned by a capable three point shooter, including JJJ himself.
This might be the season of superior shooting we have all been craving for so long.