The Grizzlies were pretty successful in the 2020 NBA Draft, selecting Desmond Bane 30th overall and Xavier Tillman with the 35th pick in the draft. The Grizzlies were able to select two really good players at great value in Bane and Tillman, which had Grizzlies fans celebrating as the 2020 NBA Draft wrapped up.
As Grizzlies fans rejoiced, GM Zach Kleiman was still on the phones and locked up two very solid players on two-way contracts within hours of the draft concluding. The Grizzlies did great bringing in Killian Tillie and Sean McDermott so quickly after the draft ended.
With two-way players being slightly different next year, both Tillie and McDermott have a chance to have a larger role for the Grizzlies next season than in the past. Instead of the typical 45-day limit, two-way players will be allowed to be active for up to 50 games for the Grizzlies this upcoming season. This will allow both Tillie and McDermott more time with the Grizzlies than what previous two-ways have gotten in the past.
With both players figuring to have the opportunity to have a bigger impact on the Grizzlies than previous two-way players, let’s take a look at what the Grizzlies can expect in Tillie and McDermott.
The Grizzlies signing Tillie to a two-way contract could be one of the bigger steals of draft night this season. Tillie had a great collegiate career at Gonzaga, where he spent the 2018-2019 season teammates with Brandon Clarke. Last season, Tillie averaged nearly 14 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 40% from beyond the arc. GBB’s Ed Memphis covered Tillie extensively as part of GBB’s Prospect Profiles earlier this fall. Tillie ended up 40th overall on GBB’s big board, but was mostly a early second round pick in most mock drafts, with Tankathon ranking Tillie the highest at 33rd. So how did someone with Tillie’s projection slip out of the draft entirely? Injuries.
Tillie was a potential first round talent who fell because of a lengthy injury history. Over his 4 year career Tillie missed a total of 38 games with the following injuries: knee surgery, a torn ligament in his foot, a stress fracture in his ankle, numerous sprained ankles, a broken finger, and a hip pointer.
Tillie may have been a risky pick in the second round with such a lengthy injury history, but it’s another brilliant move by the Grizzlies to bring him in on a two-way. If he can get healthy, Tillie fits the mold the Grizzlies love in their players. He’s an extremely smart, high IQ player in the post who can score around the rim or from beyond the arc. Tillie is also a pretty solid playmaker for a big man and is great at finding the open man. With Jaren Jackson Jr. likely to miss the first month or so of the season, and COVID-19 always being a risk, Tillie could have a chance to earn some minutes early on this upcoming season.
Sean McDermott wasn’t as highly touted of a prospect as Tillie, not even making GBB’s big board, but is still a solid addition for the Grizzlies organization. McDermott, a 6’6” forward from Butler, averaged 40% from beyond the arc in his 4-year Bulldog career. Although he’s primarily a shooter, McDermott’s game has grown over his collegiate career. As a senior, McDermott also averaged 6.3 rebounds to go along with his 11.7 points per game.
Grizzlies fans, particularly those in the GBB circle, have been big on the Grizzlies going after Duncan Robinson next offseason in free agency. Know who McDermott plays like? Duncan Robinson. Grizzlies won’t need to go sign Robinson if they have the next Duncan Robinson signed already.
Calling McDermott the next Duncan Robinson is probably a little overzealous, but it’s not unrealistic. McDermott has a knack for moving off the ball and setting himself up for some three-point attempts. Like Robinson, McDermott isn’t the best defender but he uses his basketball IQ to stay in good position and has enough size to make things difficult for opposing offensive players despite his lack of strength.
On a two-way contract, the Grizzlies have a chance to see if McDermott’s game can translate from the college game to the NBA without any real risk involved. Best case scenario, McDermott’s shooting secures him a spot in the league and on the Grizzlies roster long term. Worst case? McDermott would be an extremely fun player to watch with the Memphis Hustle.
The Grizzlies were able to fill their two vacant two-way spots quite effectively last week. They were able to grab a potential lottery talent for cheap in Killian Tillie while also grabbing a superb shooter in Sean McDermott. Though there is no clarity on a G-League season for next year, both Tillie and McDermott would be fun, dominant players in a Hustle uniform. Both are talented enough to also play a decent role on the Grizzlies should injuries or COVID-19 affect the main rotation’s availability.
In Tillie and McDermott, the Grizzlies grabbed two high IQ basketball players who can shoot lights out from beyond the arc. In a season where you can never have too much depth, Tillie and McDermott should prove to be extremely valuable pieces for the Grizzlies.