Bryn Forbes- Guard, Michigan State
27 years old, 6’2”, 205, 6’5” Wingspan
Draft- 2016, Undrafted, Signed as undrafted free agent with San Antonio Spurs in July, 2016
Experience- Four years, all with San Antonio
Career Stats- 261 Games, 155 starts, 21.7 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.9APG, 0.4SPG, 0.0 BPG, 0.7 TOPG, 43.1 FG%, 40.0 3PFG%, 80.1 FT%, 54.0 eFG%, 10.7 PER, 0.67 Win Shares Per 48 Minutes
During the Gregg Popovich era, his ability to develop talent at all levels has been been amazing. Though the Spurs time as a title contender has passed, their ability to develop relevant pieces out of nowhere remains. The Grizzlies invested in that a two years ago when they signed Kyle Anderson. Now, with the clear need for shooting, another product of the Spurs system could make some sense for Memphis to pursue.
Bryn Forbes went undrafted out of Michigan State in 2016. However, after showing his ability to shoot from distance in pre-draft workouts, including one session where he made 77 out of 100 three pointers, the Spurs saw enough to make them apart of their summer league team. From that point on, Forbes simply kept shooting. That ability helped him make the Spurs roster on opening night of his rookie year, aided him in becoming a significant reserve of the Spurs in his second year, and was a big reason he started 143 out of the 145 games he played in over the past two years.
Without a doubt, Forbes can offer value as a shooter, specifically from beyond the arc. However, does his shooting support an improving overall game that allows him to contribute in other ways, or does it hide clear weaknesses that could make him a liability if his shot is not falling?
NUMBERS THAT MAKE FORBES ATTRACTIVE
14- Forbes probably fits the description of a three point specialist. For some who may be given that label, it is likely due to quantity. However, for Forbes, it is mainly due to quality. Since entering the league during the 2016-2017 season, Forbes is one of only 14 NBA players who have made 430 or more threes while also producing a 3PFG% of 40% or better. This list includes Stephen Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns, Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick and others. Though Forbes is not and likely will never be on the level of several other players in this group, he certainly could be described as one of the most reliable three point shooters in the NBA.
40%- This season, Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant lead Memphis with 38 and 35 made pull-up three pointers, respectively. Both players logged over 2000 minutes played. Brooks shot 30.9% on pull-up threes, while Morant shot 31.3%. Overall, the Grizzlies were last in the NBA in team pull-up 3PFG%.
Forbes made 36 pull-up three pointers during the 2019-2020 season. However, he did it in only 1579 minutes of play, and made 40% of his attempts. He was a significant reason for the Spurs being first in the NBA in team pull-up 3PFG%. It is valid to suggest that Forbes would instantly become the Grizzlies biggest shooting threat due to his versatility and accuracy as a shooter from distance.
4- Forbes’s contributions as a shooter allowed the Spurs to arguably be at their best on offense when he was on the court. Among all four-man Spurs lineups that played together for 200 or more minutes, Forbes was a part of four of the five combinations that produced the highest Offensive Ratings. The space he creates and reliability he offers as a shooter allows Forbes to help raise the entire offensive ceiling of his team.
NUMBERS THAT COULD CREATE CAUTION
0- As impressive as Forbes’s offensive contributions might be based on the link above, another statistical trend likely stands out even more than Offensive Rating. Each of the four combinations that Forbes was a part of that were among the best four-man offensive lineups for the Spurs produced negative NET Ratings due to subpar Defensive Ratings. While Forbes was a significant contributor to the good offensive numbers, he was just as responsible for the poor defensive numbers. Despite obviously being a clear asset on offense, Forbes seems to be an even bigger liability on defense.
-6.8- A deeper look on an individual level through advanced statistics into Forbes impact on the court validates the fact that Forbes’s ineffective defense completely negates his added value on offense. This season, Forbes had a 108.00 Offensive Rating and a 114.8 Defensive rating. Of 122 players that played at least 60 games and averaged at least 20 minutes per game, Forbes had the fourth worst Defensive Rating and ninth worst Net Rating. Simply put, these numbers suggest Forbes may need to be more carefully utilized and likely cannot be relied upon in high leverage situations due to his poor defense.
1- Another red flag that stands out about Forbes’ production is his lack of contributions outside of shooting. He offers very little value as a playmaker. In fact, for any guard that played 1,500 or more minutes with a usage rate of 18% or higher, Forbes was the only NBA player with an assist rate under 10% and a total rebounding rate under 5%. He also has only averaged 0.4 steals per game in his career. Forbes’ offensive value outside of shooting is nearly non-existent. Combined with his defense, it becomes evident that Forbes is nothing more than a shooting specialist.
If his shot is not falling, it is fair to question why Forbes should even be on the court.
PULSE OF GRIZZ NATION
Another Pulse of #Grizzlies Nation idea for @sbnGrizzlies:— Shawn Coleman (@StatsSAC) October 15, 2020
Bryn Forbes skill set could bring needed perimeter help and shooting to the roster, but is their room among an already crowded backcourt in Memphis?
I feel Grizzlies’ fans have proven they have a pretty good grasp of this team and roster when it comes to potential additions, and I couldn't agree more with their opinion here. While there is some logic to Forbes’s shooting ability making him a potential target for Memphis, his overall game likely lowers the chances of him being a priority. However, if the Grizzlies were to lose Melton in restricted free agency, the bench that is already in place in Memphis is a strong enough all-around unit that Forbes could be a valuable addition. The key though is not as a starter, but as the “instant offense” or “mircowave” scoring option off the bench.
THE FINAL OFFER
When it comes to deciding on how much to invest in De’Anthony Melton, it comes down to how much faith the Grizzlies have in his shooting potential moving forward. Head coach Taylor Jenkins highly values the ability to shoot at all positions. However, he values positive impact even more. Therefore, this is not a situation like last year when the Grizzlies traded away Delon Wright for assets because they preferred Tyus Jones. Melton should certainly be a preference over Forbes, and Forbes really should only be a primary option if Melton signs elsewhere.
The offer- Two Years, $10M
While Forbes certainly offers the one skill that the NBA is currently paying for and the Grizzlies clearly need, Memphis and other teams should not overlook the weaknesses in his game. If the offseason progresses, Melton leaves, and higher upside options do not materialize, Forbes could be a valuable addition. However, based on where the Grizzlies are on the competitive timeline, they should focus on options that offer higher ceilings and more all-around potential than Forbes.