A bright spot in a dark season.
That’s what Dillon Brooks turned out to be. Coming into the season, Brooks was an unheralded second round pick from Oregon who started off his career with a bang and stuck around due to a rash of early-season injuries.
As the season wore on, Brooks found his footing as well as his place on the team, becoming the only rookie in the league to appear in all 82 games. His season highlights included making Team World for the Rookie/Sophomore showcase and dropping a career-high 36 points in the season finale against the Thunder.
This upcoming season should be another step in Brooks’ development into becoming an “elite role player”.
Dillon showed considerable progression throughout his first foray into big-league action. He showed the ability to score, pass and defend, but now he needs to show that he can put it all together. In the seven games where Brooks scored 20+ points, only once did he grab more than 5 rebounds and dish out more than 5 assists. Brooks has the tools to succeed. His next step will be putting them all together.
Brooks enters his second training camp on the fast track to the starting lineup. While he may have gotten his opportunity last season from all the early-season injuries, this year he brings something that no other player at his position currently has: experience with this team. Garrett Temple is new. Ditto for Kyle Anderson. MarShon Brooks has been a Grizzly for seven essentially meaningless games. Wayne Selden Jr. has actually been with the Grizzlies longer than Dillon, but has missed significant chunks of time with injuries. This points to Brooks having an inside advantage toward starting between Mike Conley and Kyle Anderson.
2018-19 Best Case Scenario
Dillon takes the next step into becoming that “elite role player”. He cans closer to 40% of his threes while also improving his assist and rebound numbers. His rookie campaign spent guarding the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James and others pays off and he becomes a better defender, cutting down on his personal fouls in the process. Brooks gets back to the Rookie/Sophomore showcase while proving that he deserved to be an All-NBA Rookie.
2018-19 Worst Case Scenario
The worst thing that could happen to Brooks is he fails to recapture his form from the end of last season. He falls into a slump while MarShon Brooks lights it up like he did last year in his initial go-round in Memphis. Selden continues to show progress while Garrett Temple becomes exactly the player we’re expecting him to be. Kyle Anderson and a healthy Chandler Parsons soak up the majority of the minutes at the 3, while Dillon falls further down the depth chart.
We may not know what to expect from this Memphis team yet, but they have a number of intriguing pieces and the worst thing that could happen to Brooks is that he falls behind all of them in the pecking order.
While it’s no secret that I’m somewhat of a Brooks fanboy, I do think it’s more reasonable to expect something closer to the best-case scenario than the worst. Despite playing at a crowded position(s), Brooks is the best of the bunch. He has the most potential and should get the best opportunity to act on it.
Look for Brooks to continue to improve, especially given the chance to play alongside some excellent facilitators such as Gasol, Conley and Anderson. A lineup of these guys, and say, JaMychal Green, could have some great switchability in terms of defensive potential. And Dillon Brooks could be a big part of something special brewing in Memphis.