The Grizzlies have jumped out to an abysmal 0-3 start in the Orlando bubble and now seemed destined for a play-in tournament scenario with one of the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers or New Orleans Pelicans. One of the main reasons for the Grizzlies terrible start in Orlando has been the atrocious 3-point shooting from Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks. The Grizzlies guard trio has combined to shoot 8-49 (16.3%) in the first 3 games.
Ja, though he forced 3’s against New Orleans has at least stepped up in other areas by being a facilitator and using his speed to attack the basket and get his teammates open and easy looks. Brooks and Melton, however, have both been brutal in Orlando. Dillon has been particularly bad on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging 5 fouls per game in the bubble and has shot 18-49 from the field. As Dillon has always been, his shot selection has been questionable at best and has hurt the Grizzlies in all 3 games. GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax looked at Dillon’s rough start in Orlando and recapped how both he and the team as a whole are responsible for the bad start. With Dillon’s struggles, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins mentioned how he might need to readjust his rotations and lineups as the Grizzlies cling to a 2 game lead on the 8th seed against the Spurs and Blazers. One of those adjustments could be making a change to his starting lineup.
Typically De’Anthony Melton would be the easy choice to replace Dillon should Jenkins alter his starting lineup. Melton has been a solid all-around player for the Grizzlies all season long and the advanced metrics love him (as does Grizz Twitter!). However, Melton has struggled mightily in the bubble. Melton has looked mostly lost on the offensive end of the court and his shot just hasn’t been there. The spacing in a Morant-Melton-Anderson-Jackson Jr.-Valanciunas would be pretty bad as JJJ is the only legit 3-point threat on the team. So with Melton not particularly a viable starter, that leaves the Grizzlies with just one other legitimate option.
Grayson Allen, healed hip and all, has been one of the few bright spots for the Grizzlies in Orlando. Allen broke out last night against the Pelicans scoring 17 points on 6-10 shooting (5-6 from deep). Allen’s ability to space the floor with his 3-point shooting along with his secondary playmaking abilities makes him a sneaky good fit with the Grizzlies current starting lineup. For the most part Allen knows his role in the offense and doesn’t force things like Dillon does. Allen knows when to shoot his shot and when to defer to Ja or Jaren. Simply, Allen doesn’t get in the way of the offense like Dillon can and he doesn’t freeze up like Melton has been in the bubble. Allen has shot a steady 13-23 (56%) in Orlando and has played respectable defense. Melton and Brooks are certainly better defenders than Grayson, but Allen works his tail off on the defensive end without getting into foul trouble. Though Allen has played well enough to earn consideration to be put in the starting lineup, it’s more of a testament to how bad both Dillon and De’Anthony have been.
Throwing Grayson in the starting lineup would also allow the Grizzlies to see what Dillon looks like as a 6th man, his ideal role when this Grizzlies team reaches their ceiling. So far, Brandon Clarke and Allen have been the only consistent offensive threats on the Grizzlies bench so swapping out Allen and Brooks could be a welcome change for the Grizzlies. The return of Tyus Jones should help things, but putting Dillon in with the second unit will allow him to play the way he likes playing.
Barring an surprising move this offseason, Dillon Brooks will be the opening day starter at the 2 for the Grizzlies whenever the 2020-2021 season starts. You don’t sign a guy to a 3-year $35 million contract and bench him 30-ish games into the extension, especially when he’s a notoriously streaky shooter. However, the Orlando bubble is a big experiment for the NBA as a whole and it provides Taylor Jenkins the chance to experiment with his lineups as the team clings to a spot at the playoffs. Three games isn’t enough to make Grayson a permanent starter, but with just five seeding games left the small sample size is enough to warrant the thought of making a lineup change.
The Grizzlies weren’t expected to even be in the playoff conversation, so it’s a testament to the organization, coaches and players that they even made it to Orlando and are still in prime position to make the playoffs. Still, with the 4 month hiatus, not making the playoffs would feel like more of a disappointment due to the sizeable lead in the standings as they entered the bubble. Throwing Grayson into the starting lineup could be the short-term solution.