Dillon Brooks’ career year coinciding with a surprisingly ahead-of-schedule season from the Grizzlies this year is no stroke of luck. As Brooks has gone this season, so has the Grizzlies. Memphis currently is 17-1 when Dillon scores at least 20 points. Given his resurgent year - and an especially torrid January, where he averaged 20.5 ppg - the Grizzlies rewarded Brooks for his efforts by signing him to a three year, $35 million extension this past week. Brooks would have entered restricted free agency at the end of the season, and given the weaker crop of free agents this year, this move allows the Grizzlies the luxury of avoiding a potentially overblown offer that Memphis would either have to match or let Brooks walk away.
Dillon has established himself as a key piece of Memphis’ exciting core of youngsters, but his NBA journey hasn’t always been this fun.
An unheralded second round pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, Brooks has had to endure two brutal losing seasons, a revolving door of teammates, and missing 64 games due to injury last year. Let’s not forget, he is on his third head coach in three years as well. Despite a solid, yet inconsistent rookie year, Brooks staying with the Grizzlies was anything but certain. After starting 74 of 82 games in his rookie year, he started none of his 18 appearances last season, seemingly falling out of favor with then-head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
But Brooks has found new life this season under first-time Head Coach Taylor Jenkins, and a cast of new and (much) improved teammates. Dillon has been given the green light to let it fly, resulting in shooting threes at a near 40% clip. His energy is relentless and he plays like a man on fire. His scoring punch, swagger and toughness has endeared himself to Grizzlies fans, who are embracing him like never before. This young Grizzlies squad is the breath of fresh air that was much needed for Memphis’ elder statesman. (Brooks is the longest tenured Grizzly...let that sink in for a moment.)
Make no mistake, this extension is a huge win for both sides. For DB, he finally gets his big payday and long-term security. He gets to stay a part of an intriguing and young core that is only going to keep getting better. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, lock up another crucial piece of their young core on a team-friendly deal. One aspect of this deal that deserves praise is the timing. The front office of the Grizzlies pulled this off at the perfect time. Brooks is coming off his best month ever as pro, making his perceived value higher than it has ever been. With his value at an all time high, Memphis then takes him off the market, further diluting an already weak free agency class. Pretty shrewd tactics by the Grizz brass.
From Oregon to Memphis, Dillon Brooks has been a grinder. A true Grizzly. One of a few bright spots from two lost seasons. He made it through the night of the start of his NBA career, and now he gets to enjoy the sunrise.
Dillon Brooks has earned this. Enjoy it.