Over the next several weeks, we’ll be breaking down some young players and their fits next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, while addressing the likelihood of them being on the next Memphis Grizzlies playoff team. So far GBB has covered the fits of Josh Jackson and Kyle Anderson. Next up — Dillon Brooks.
Dillon Brooks was arguably the lone bright spot of the 2017-2018 season. As the Grizzlies tanked their way to Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks put on a show and proved to be a steal at 45th overall in the 2017 draft. Brooks averaged 11 points on pretty efficient shooting to go along with some solid defense that year.
Unfortunately for Dillon, the 2018-2019 season was one to forget. He struggled to start the season, and seemed to be in J.B. Bickerstaff’s dog house, and only appeared in 18 games before rupturing a ligament in his right toe that ended his season. Brooks only averaged 18 minutes per game last year and didn’t really get going until a few games prior to his injury.
With Brooks expected to be healthy heading into training camp, he has the opportunity to prove himself as he enters his 3rd season in the NBA. Despite being just 23 years old, Brooks is the longest-tenured player on the Grizzlies roster, and his fit with Jaren and Ja will likely determine if things will stay that way or if he’ll be playing elsewhere.
Fit next to Jaren and Ja
On paper, Dillon fits quite well with Jaren and Ja. He’s a solid 3-point shooter who can spot up and knock down the easy looks Ja can find him. He also has the ability to create his own shot, which can allow Ja to take on less of a load offensively as he adjusts to the NBA game. Jaren can set some solid screens to give Dillon the space to drive to the lane or get an open jumper, but unless he improves on his passing a Brooks-Jaren pick-and-roll will be quite one-dimensional.
Early in his NBA career, Dillon was tasked with guarding the opposing team's best guard, something that will likely continue if he’s starting alongside Ja Morant next season. Brooks isn’t the best defender in the world, but what he lacks in size he makes up with his effort. You won’t mistake Dillon for an All-NBA defender, but he’s solid enough to take on the toughest guard assignment so Ja doesn’t have to.
It isn’t a seamless fit for Dillon with Jaren and Ja. He shined as a ball-dominant player in 2017-2018, a role he shouldn’t fill this upcoming season. It will be interesting to see how Dillon fits alongside the two as a secondary option.
Can he be on the Next Great Grizzlies Team?
Dillon’s role will determine if he’ll be on the next great Grizzlies team. I’m not sold Dillon is the starting shooting guard of the future for the Grizzlies. He’s a fine player, but he isn’t a perfect fit starting alongside Jaren and Ja. Frankly, I don’t see the Grizzlies being “great” with Dillon starting at the two.
However, Dillon has the chance to carve out a nice 6th man role with the Grizzlies. His strengths would really shine with him coming off the bench. He can sub in and play alongside Jaren and Ja, sprinkle in some spot up shooting, and then take on a bigger role once the rest of the bench subs in. I think Dillon’s best fit on the next theoretical “Great” Grizzlies team is being the scoring 6th man, similar to J.R. Smith and Lou Williams.
Coming off the bench will allow Dillon to be more of his ball-dominant self, while also getting some reps with Jaren and Ja. Dillon is a serviceable starting two-guard alongside Jaren and Ja in the immediate future of the team, but the team will likely need an upgrade before they can truly contend.
Grizzlies fans still don’t quite know what they have in Dillon Brooks. Was his performance over the tail end of the 2017-2018 season real, or just a player putting up good numbers on a bad team? Were his struggles at the beginning of last season due to his undefined role and inconsistent minutes, or is that what Grizzlies can expect going forward?
With Brooks heading for restricted free agency next summer, we’ll find out soon enough if he is part of the Grizzlies’ long-term plans. Even if Dillon proves to be a fine fit alongside Jaren and Ja, another team can swoop in and offer Dillon a contract the Grizzlies don’t want to pay. Regardless, we’ll see how much the Grizzlies value Dillon, and how he fits with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., next summer.