The NBA season has concluded for the Memphis Grizzlies. Now, we wait.
As the NBA Playoffs begin today, the offseason for the Grizzlies is officially underway. GBB is kicking off its out of season work with two roundtables - 10 staffers join me to tackle some key questions facing the franchise as the most unique inbetween time of seasons ever starts up.
Dillon Brooks was much maligned by Grizzlies fans and media during the Bubble experience, yet he played some of his best basketball in the two biggest games in Orlando for Memphis. Come opening night, whenever it is, should Dillon Brooks still be the starting 2 guard for the Grizzlies?
GBB SITE MANAGER JOE MULLINAX: I am going to say yes, and it is for a reason that probably is going to frustrate people. I still believe Dillon’s best role if he’s part of the Grizzlies long-term is as a sixth man scorer off the bench. His confidence and streaky offensive potential would shine in that position. However...the team made the move to acquire Justise Winslow earlier this year, and because of that (and the subsequent Gorgui Dieng acquisition) 2020 free agency is off the table as a legitimate option to add a starting 2 guard. Dillon did enough to earn an opportunity to see how he looks with an above-average NBA starting wing next to him (no offense, Kyle Anderson). Maybe that never happens - Winslow’s health is a concern. But the idea of Justise should help Dillon immensely - Winslow can create better catch and shoot chances for Brooks, which he desperately needs to be more efficient.
ABRAHAM: Dillon should absolutely be the starting shooting guard come opening night next season, barring an unexpected big trade. He didn’t play well a majority of the bubble, but he’s the best option the Grizzlies have alongside the Grizzlies starting backcourt. Ja, a fine defender his rookie season, is able to hide more due to Dillon’s defensive ability and aggressiveness. Dillon is inconsistent, but he’s the best option the Grizzlies currently have at the 2-guard spot.
CINQUINI: Yes. Dillon Brooks certainly was deserving of much of the flak he received in Orlando, but his two-way ability is unlike anything else Memphis possesses at the shooting guard spot. He brings effort and energy on both ends every time he takes the court. Brooks is oftentimes over-aggressive on defense sure, but I’d rather that than have to worry about someone being passive and out-muscled. And as we saw in some of his better performances in the Bubble, once he gets a hot hand, Brooks is as deadly a scorer as anyone on the roster.
EDMEMPHIS: Yes & No. Yes, because he has that rare Alpha dog mentality when it comes to scoring on a consistent basis that you want from a SG. No, he shouldn’t be starting if he doesn’t seriously improve his ball handling & moves/shot creation.
SHEEDY: For the start of the season, I don’t believe Dillon Brooks should be the starting 2 guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s a great defender but at times hurts us defensively by taking a bad shot and not hustling back to play defense. He would produce better off the bench which we could use a spark offensively. Bringing DB, Tyus Jones, and Josh Jackson (if he returns) off the bench would provide value for us offensively and defensively when other teams are putting in their bench. Also, we are in the times where not all starters actually finish games, therefore, he still has the opportunity to close out for us.
SHARKEY: I say yes, if Taylor Jenkins takes the next step as a coach and tells him to accept the 3 and D role. Dillon is best as a catch and shoot shooter and taking advantage of mismatches while defending the best player. If not, the 6th man role has always been my place for him as a bucket-getter but not sure if Grayson Allen or Melton are worthy starters over Dillon.
De’Anthony Melton is a restricted free agent, and the team’s biggest offseason roster question? Should Memphis bring him back, on what kind of deal, and is there a line you won’t cross in terms of matching an offer sheet?
MULLINAX: Aside from a game or two, Melton’s Bubble stay did him no favors. So how he is approached this offseason will be fascinating on two levels - one, just how much people value Melton in general, and two, how much a poor performance in the Bubble can impact free agency. It was an extremely unique circumstance, and in a “normal” setting De’Anthony was making outsiders say he could net a $50 million offer sheet. That, Memphis should not try to match. However, if an ideal offer (say 3 years, $21 million descending yearly) is not possible, the Grizzlies would be wise to match anything around $9 million per season. Melton is a great off-ball option to run alongside Ja, and he should improve as a shooter. But $12.5 million per season, like that $50 million offer would bring?
That creeps in to an overpay area that Memphis should not, and likely would not, match. Grayson Allen’s Bubble shows that the Grizzlies are even deeper on the wing than they thought, and John Konchar is clearly valued by the coaching staff. That allows greater flexibility, especially if a sign-and-trade angle becomes available (as it did with Delon Wright last year).
ABRAHAM: The Grizzlies should definitely try and bring De’Anthony Melton back next season. His fit off the bench alongside Tyus Jones and Brandon Clarke is great and paid dividends all season long. That said, Grayson Allen’s bubble play gives the Grizzlies more flexibility as Melton enters restricted free agency. The 4 year/$50 million contract floated by PeachTree Hoops may be too steep a price, but a 2 or 3 year deal worth up to $10-$15 million would be fine value for the Grizzlies, especially since Melton and/or Dillon could be used as trade chips.
CINQUINI: Defense wins championships. De’Anthony Melton is arguably the best wing defender on the Grizzlies, so the team should look to retain his services - but not at all costs. After all, Melton struggled mightily to put points on the board in Orlando, as he failed to crack double-digits in scoring in any of the nine games that mattered. But much like Marcus Smart, Melton impacts winning in other ways and what he does for Memphis goes beyond the stat sheet. Not to mention at just 22 years old, the young man likely has his best basketball ahead of him. With all this in mind, the Grizzlies should willingly match any offer for Melton that doesn’t exceed $12 million annually.
EDMEMPHIS: Melton is a “Do it all Saul” if you will, however he has to improve his long range shooting. That said, I would love to see him back on a team friendly deal. IMO that would be an annual salary of $5 million per season on a 2+1 deal. If we can get him on a cheaper annual salary that’s a plus, but we have to walk on anything more as of where his shooting is today.
SHEEDY: You definitely look to keep De’Anthony Melton due to his progress during this season, especially in the Bubble when we were without Tyus Jones. I believe we do a contract within the range of $10-12 million a season. I can see us doing a 3 year $33 million or so contract for him. If a team is offering more, we let him go. He still has some developing to do, however, I believe we should focus our energy in to other players.
SHARKEY: I saw enough in the bubble that I wouldn’t match a deal similar to the 4 year, $52 mil Boston gave Marcus Smart. With that said, he is still very valuable and I predict his price point won’t be as high due to salary cap drop because of Covid-19. A $8 mil a year mid-level exception deal would suffice to me.
Brandon Clarke and Jonas Valanciunas both shined when Memphis needed them most in Orlando, and in the play-in game they showed growth in their games as three point shooters and passers respectively. Who is one player, and what is one skill, you want to see a current Grizzlies roster member add to their arsenal permanently this offseason?
MULLINAX: Jaren Jackson Jr.’s rebounding is going to be a popular reply here, and that is understandable. He definitely needs to prioritize glass eating more. But for these Grizzlies to take the next step as a team, I think they need internal improvement shooting the three. With the explosive Ja Morant creating off the dribble and getting to the rim at will, there will be plenty of open threes to be had. If De’Anthony Melton sticks around, he’s my pick for the player most in need of three point improvement. Melton’s return, along with Dillon Brooks’ contract extension kicking in, will likely mean at least $20 million across two shooting guards. Dillon is streaky, but has shown the ability to score. If Memphis invests in Melton, that means they expect him to at least be a more consistent threat in that area as it comes with opportunity cost down the road.
ABRAHAM: I’d like to see Ja continue to improve as a more consistent 3-point shooter. He was a streaky shooter in the bubble, but was more willing than the “regular” regular season. Ja is talented enough to make moves to the basket even when defenders go under on JV/Jaren/Clarke screens, but if Ja becomes a legitimate 3-point threat from beyond the arc then it’s game over for the rest of the league.
CINQUINI: Ja Morant with an improved three-point stroke spells trouble for the rest of the NBA. Not to say Morant was terrible from distance by any means (33.5 percent), but it should be an area of focus for him this offseason. Throughout his time in Orlando, opponents were leaving him space to fire so as to not get blown by off the dribble. In the future, he needs to make the defense pay for sagging off of him. If opponents have to worry about Ja raining down treys along with everything else he does so well offensively (playmaking, finishing), Morant will be practically unguardable.
EDMEMPHIS: One skill the Grizzlies need to add is more aggressive perimeter scoring. The Grizzlies bubble defense was solid as a rock, but when the team isn’t hot, there isn’t enough wing players who “can get it out the mud” scoring from the perimeter to the paint.
SHEEDY: The one player and skill I would like for a current Grizzlies player to add to their arsenal is rebounding for Jaren Jackson Jr. His points per game will continue to go up as long as he is on the court without foul trouble. At 6’11”, playing the PF/C position, you would like to see more than 5 rebounds per game out of your starter. With more rebounds for him, I believe, will also garnish him more confidence against the other bigs within this league. I think JJJ is still trying to find himself at the tender age of 20 and hasn’t hit his fullest potential yet. The West is loaded with young talent at his position, and they are constantly improving year to year. You hope to see even more of a rise for your #2 guy especially when Ja Morant will need help.
SHARKEY: Jaren Jackson Jr.’s rebounding. To me rebounding is about will and effort and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t, at least, average around 6 to 7 rebounds like Marc Gasol did for us. Averaging 2.6 rebounds in the 3 bubble games and 4.6 for his first 2 years has to improve I predict it will
Stick with GBB as the offseason gets under way. The Grizzlies are done for the year, but we are just getting started.