The Memphis Grizzlies made some waves over the trade deadline. They finally freed themselves from the Andre Iguodala fiasco. In the process, they traded away veterans Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, who served as good mentors in the locker room but probably wouldn’t be on the team next year. They also flipped the rarely used Bruno Caboclo to fill a need for an insurance big man.
In return, they received Justise Winslow, Gorgui Dieing (who the team traded James Johnson for), and Jordan Bell.
Justise Winslow, the most valuable piece in the trade deadline moves, fits the timeline of the Grizzlies’ future and has the upside to be a future cornerstone for the next great Memphis team. His size and skill set fit for the position-less prototype, as he has experience running both point guard to center in Miami.
Gorgui Dieng fills in as the team’s de facto backup big man, and a good one at that. During his time in Minnesota, he started 204 games, some of those next to Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s a legitimate center that can protect the rim, stretch the floor, and serve as a somewhat mobile modern big man.
Jordan Bell is a good insurance center. Not too long ago, he was playing valuable minutes in the NBA playoffs for a championship Warriors team. Though he can’t space the floor, he’s a rim-runner that could provide an electrifying block or dunk in a short span.
With these moves, it’s easy to daydream about the different ways the new guys could be used, as well as them running with Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke. What lineups should they be used in? Could these players play a viable role for a playoff run this year?
Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Gorgui Dieng
Since De’Anthony Melton’s permanent insertion into the rotation, the Memphis Grizzlies are 7th in the league in bench scoring — 41.1 points per game. That bench mob consisted of Tyus Jones, Melton, Kyle Anderson, Solomon Hill, and Brandon Clarke, and they boasted a +6.9 net rating in 51 minutes together. With Hill out of the fold, who could fill in?
Insert Gorgui Dieng.
In his Grizzlies debut against Portland, Dieng showed off his value. He can space the floor, finish inside, defend on switches, and protect the rim. He’s an ideal fit in this lineup, as he already has pick-and-roll chemistry established with former Timberwolf(?) Tyus Jones, and the quartet of Melton, Anderson, Clarke, and Dieng would be formidable defensive unit.
In addition, when Clarke shares the floor with a traditional center, the Grizzlies are successful. They are a +13.7 when Clarke is on the floor with Jonas Valanciunas. Since December 9th, the Grizzlies are a +6.9 when Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. are on the floor together.
Sticking with this bench unit, while giving Dieng regular minutes, could help the Grizzlies sustain this run.
Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, Josh Jackson, Justise Winslow, Brandon Clarke
When Justise Winslow returns from injury, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him coming off the bench at first. For the most part, you’d probably see the lineup mentioned above and the insertion of Winslow in Anderson’s place. However, I’d want to see this as a “run-and-gun”, change of pace bench lineup.
The switch-ability between Melton, Jackson, Winslow, and Clarke would be tantalizing, especially considering that the newest Grizzly can defend positions 1-5.
Offensively, the shooting upside isn’t necessarily there. However, they all are great downhill players that can create opportunities inside for themselves, or in drive-and-kick, catch-and-shoot situations. With this lineup, you’re also surrounding Clarke with 3 good-to-great playmakers for their positions.
Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Justise Winslow, Brandon Clarke, Jaren Jackson Jr.
When you’re having dreams of a deep postseason run, or a high-pressure, crunch-time playoff possession, this unit is probably the one you’re seeing on the court — depending on your stance on De’Anthony Melton and Jonas Valanciunas.
The potential here is mesmerizing.
All 5 players can create their own offense in the half court. There are no real shooting liabilities, so the spacing for Morant is optimal. It opens up driving lines for Morant to create offense, whether it’s a short floater, kick out to a shooter, or a straight attack at the rim.
With Winslow and Brooks, Morant will have playmakers that could ease the offensive burden from him. In addition, the defensive versatility among them two, Jackson, and Clarke makes for ideal matchup-based scheming.
Since December 9th, the Grizzlies have a +13.1 net rating with the lineup of Morant, Brooks, Anderson, Clarke, and Jackson. I want to see what it looks with Winslow instead of Anderson, since he’s almost a super-charged SloMo — a big playmaker that can facilitate the offense, defend multiple positions, and feast on rebounding opportunities.
Given the upside and the cost control here, I could really see this 5 playing meaningful playoff minutes over the next couple years.
- Justise Winslow, De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Gorgui Dieng
You’re right. This lineup doesn’t have a traditional point guard in it. That’s what I like about it.
Between Winslow, Anderson, Melton, and Jackson, it’d be more of a “point guard by committee” type of thing, which is perfectly fine. All four are capable of initiating the offense for multiple positions. At a first glance, it doesn’t look like the Grizzlies would have enough shooting threats. However, Melton, Winslow, Jackson, and Dieng are all capable catch-and-shoot players that could come in handy in the dribble-drive.
Defensively? I love the upside here. Dieng and Jackson are potent rim protectors that can switch in the pick-and-roll, making life miserable for any perimeter player. Winslow and Anderson have the size to switch onto bigger players. Melton is also one of the most underrated perimeter defenders in the league.
I just need to see this lineup sometime in the near future.
- Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Justise Winslow
If you’ve followed my work here, or you see my tweets, you know my affinity for small-ball and positionless basketball.
This would be my Mona Lisa.
Do I expect this lineup to be used? No. Should it be used against the Houston Rockets in a future matchup? Yes, let’s get weird.
Obviously, any of these lineups needs Ja Morant or Tyus Jones. I almost left both in here, but didn’t want to get too crazy. Need a perimeter defender that can cover either guard position? De’Anthony Melton.
Boom. You got your backcourt.
Though he’s slotted at the 2, Dillon Brooks’ size and physicality bode well for the 3 position as well. The results aren’t bad either, as the duo of Melton and Brooks boast a +20.0 net rating when they share the floor together. Let’s roll with it.
Now, Kyle Anderson is best suited as a playmaking 4, and they need at least one more player that could guard smaller bigs. If you factor in his perimeter defense, he makes for a great “big” that could defend perimeter players against spaced-out offenses.
Justise Winslow has played big playoff minutes at the 5, and in this role, he could play a role similar to Draymond Green. He could guard all 5 positions, create transition opportunities in transition, and serve as a short-roll playmaker.
It won’t happen, but please... I need this one.
The Memphis Grizzlies brought in some unique pieces over the deadline, and it’s going to be fascinating to see Coach Jenkins experiment with different lineup combinations.