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The battle to be starting shooting guard

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It may be a short-term solution, but it could pay some dividends down the road.

NBA: Summer League-Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the moves the Memphis Grizzlies have made this summer, the core isn’t finished yet. It’s easy to look at the holes in the roster, primarily with shooting. All these holes won’t be filled in one offseason. Shooting will come with time, and there could be some potential weapons yet to be unearthed.

One hole that’s glaring at the moment is the starting shooting guard position. Everything else is simple, and quite frankly satisfying as well. Ja Morant will run the offense. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas will man the 4 and 5 positions. Kyle Anderson or Jae Crowder will start at the 3, and either player would complement the other three well. The starting shooting guard spot is still up in the air, and it isn’t quite as inspiring as the other spots.

Any of the competitors in this battle could be a nice short-term solution — one that could be a complementary piece down the line. Who are some of the players who could reside in the backcourt with Ja Morant?


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Brooks

Dillon Brooks will be the most notable — and popular — answer here, as he’s the longest-tenured player on the roster, so he’s a more known commodity. He also may end up being the best fit for the job.

He’s proven himself as an above-average 3-point shooter, connecting on 35.9 percent of his downtown attempts over the span of his career. He can also put the ball on the floor and make plays off the dribble. He’s also aggressive attacking the basket whenever he’s driving or cutting towards the basket.

Defensively, Brooks isn’t a naturally gifted athlete, as he has a negative wingspan. In addition, you won’t mistake him for Tony Allen on the court. However, he’s going to work his ass off on that end of the court. Can he guard the opposing team’s best guard? Sure. Is it going to be effective though? I honestly don’t know.

Despite the defensive concerns, his offensive skill set makes him a perfect fit next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant next season as a starting shooting guard. He’s not going to be the go-to scorer he had to be his rookie season, but he also doesn’t have to be. If he can space the floor, and make plays off the dribble, Brooks could be a solid starting shooting guard next season.

NBA: Summer League-Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Grayson Allen

This is the state of the Memphis Grizzlies right now. Grayson Allen is an option for the starting shooting guard spot.

It’s not as bad of a situation as you may think, though.

In theory, Grayson Allen is a good player. He can score from three levels, put the ball on the floor, finish in the paint, and create for others. He also makes plays defensively — even ones that don't result in two-day media exposure for “dirty play.”

Allen shot poorly in the Summer League, and that’s a scary thing to see from someone known as a shooter coming out of college. However, his role in Summer League won’t resemble his one next season. He was tasked with being one of the primary facilitators, as he was never with a real point guard. Because of that, he also didn’t see many uncontested 3-pointers as well. With better facilitators, and less attention paid to him, he could resemble the shooter we saw at Duke.

Last season, Allen shot 36 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, which is promising given his potential role in the offense next season. He won’t be asked to create nearly as much next to Morant, Jackson Jr., Valanciunas, or Anderson. He also won’t generate as much gravity as those players. If he can shoot 3’s at a clip in the 35-38 range, he can be a feasible option for the starting shooting guard spot next season.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

De’Anthony Melton

Of all the players on this list, De’Anthony Melton offers the most upside.

As The Ringer’s D.J. Foster highlighted, he can experience a Siakam-like breakthrough next season. Our own Nathan Chester sees some Tony Allen in his game.

Melton has the tools to be a good two-way player in this league. He has the size to guard any of the three perimeter positions. His defensive potential is limitless, as his steal percentage (3.3) was insane for a rookie.

Melton’s shooting was meh, but as Foster and Chester highlighted, his catch-and-shoot numbers were promising. Maybe, a shift to the shooting guard spot and more time off the ball would spike his percentages closer to the 33-37 percent range.

The Grizzlies need a stopper in the back court, and Melton offers the upside to fill that role. However, if he can blossom into a serviceable offensive weapon as well, the Grizzlies could potentially have both a short-haul and long-term solution at the 2-guard spot.

Turkish Airlines Euroleague Third Place Game Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul v Real Madrid Photo by Patrick Albertini/EB via Getty Images

Marko Guduric

Marko Guduric will be a fun answer because of his elite 3-point marksmanship. He shot 47.7 percent from deep last season with Fenerbahce, which is absolutely tantalizing.

What else does he offer?

He projects as a good creator, as he can set up teammates for buckets and score off the dribble. At 6’7”, he offers great size at that position. The big question with him is, can he keep up defensively?

Guduric might be better served off the bench. The Grizzlies’ bench, as it stands, possesses very little spacing, as there aren’t any potent 3-point weapons. They do have the defensive talent though to hide Guduric defensively though.

With that being said, if Guduric comes into training camp guns blazing, the coaching staff may have no choice but to start him. Putting a potentially-elite shooter next to Morant, Jackson Jr., Valanciunas, and Anderson doesn’t sound so bad though.


The main thing to remember here is, the starting shooting guard of the future may not be on this roster right now.

It could come in the form of a restricted free agent such as Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Caris LeVert, or Malik Beasley. Maybe the next draft pick, whether it’s in 2020 or 2021, comes at the off-guard spot — Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, or Jalen Green sure sound nice there.

With that being said though, neither of these current options are ideal, but they’re also not terrible. I like their individual fits next to Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, and Anderson/Crowder. Since there’s a lack of skill differentiation between the four players, Coach Jenkins could just test lineup combinations out this season.

Any of these guys could emerge as complementary role players off the bench down the line for this team. The best time to explore that possibility is by throwing them into the fire now as starters.

Poll

Who Should Be The Starting Shooting Guard for the Memphis Grizzlies On Opening Night?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Dillon Brooks
    (223 votes)
  • 11%
    Grayson Allen
    (50 votes)
  • 13%
    De’Anthony Melton
    (58 votes)
  • 22%
    Marko Guduric
    (98 votes)
429 votes total Vote Now

Stats found on basketball-reference

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