Marko Guduric was a swing and a miss - one the franchise could afford.
The Memphis Grizzlies brought over Guduric from the Euroleague this past offseason, and with his stats with Turkey’s Fenerbahçe club there was promise for this signing. While his counting stats didn’t pop out, his 3-point percentage caught some eyes, as he drilled 47.7% of his 3’s in his last season overseas.
While the intrigue came with his 3-point marksmanship, Grizzlies EVP of Basketball Operations Zach Kleiman praised his skillset beyond outside shooting:
He can put the ball on the floor. He can play-make a little bit. He’s a good team defender. He’s a high-IQ player, [and] in general, we’re really trying to prioritize high-IQ basketball IQ in guys who we’re going out and trying to bring on the roster. But no, I’d be lying to you if I said his shooting wasn’t of interest to us.
Everyone was hoping he could become an international steal in the similar vein to someone like Joe Ingles or Rudy Fernandez, but he was more of a Casey Jacobsen.
When it came time to play, it just didn’t work, and it was perplexing. He showed he was capable of at least hanging around, unlike past overseas projects such as Rade Zagorac. He showed flashes of pulling out NBA moves, such as crossing over Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, hitting a Harden-esque stepback jumper, and making nice drives towards the rim. However, oddly enough, his inability to hit outside jumpers and his high turnover percentage (20.4%, per Cleaning the Glass) took him out of the rotation.
His fall from Grizzlies grace has made him an afterthought when it comes to Memphis’ roster construction, and the biggest thing for Guduric is what comes next.
At His Best
Marko Guduric’s 3 best games came within each other, as he had a nice collection of games between November 6th and November 13th. Those contests generated the following lines:
- 11/06 - Minnesota: 7 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3-5 shooting (1-1 from 3), +9
- 11/09 - Dallas: 14 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 5-9 shooting (1-2 from 3), -4
- 11/13 - Charlotte: 17 points, 6-9 shooting (4-6 from 3), +5
In that stretch of game, Guduric flashed the traits that got him his gig with the Memphis Grizzlies. He did a great job of spacing the floor, but he also showed he can take opponents off the dribble and find his way to the paint. In addition, he served as a nice secondary playmaker that can keep the basketball moving.
If this week-long stretch of play went maybe a couple weeks longer, he could’ve found his confidence and stayed in the rotation
At His Worst
It was really a tough go for Guduric, and it started with his outside shot disappearing. When someone is used to hitting 3’s at the rate he did prior to his NBA career, it has to be demoralizing for his confidence. It was evident in his play, as he grew hesitant letting 3’s fly, instead of looking for more shots in rhythm.
By December 16th, Marko Guduric permanently fell out of the rotation. He played sporadic garbage time minutes here and there, but his number has never really called on for the remaining of the season.
His 3 worst games by game score were the following:
- 11/15 - Utah: 0 points, 0-6 shooting (0-4 from 3), 2 fouls, 1 turnover in 12 minutes
- 11/19 - Golden State - 0 points, 2 fouls, 2 turnovers in 6 minutes
- 1/26 - Phoenix - 0 points, 2 turnovers in 5 minutes
The Marko Guduric signing was a calculated risk. He didn’t cost very much, and they aren’t paying him too long. They didn’t use a draft pick on him, so you can’t really say, they could’ve had this guy instead. He had an intriguing skillset, and as the team was entering rebuilding, you got to swing on players that could fit next to your franchise cornerstones.
In theory, Marko Guduric did fit what you wanted next to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Coming into the NBA, he was seen as a knockdown shooter that can also put the ball on the floor and make plays. Unfortunately, his shot never fail, and other players made ground on him to swipe rotation minutes.
Now, the question will be, what to do with Guduric?
They have another year where they’re paying him guaranteed money. As we’ve seen from the releases of Dion Waiters and Miles Plumlee (two players with 8-figure salaries), Zach Kleiman and company don’t mind cutting ties with guaranteed money. And maybe they’ll do the same with Guduric; that’s the assumption. It may not be that easy right now though, given the potential salary cap implications from COVID-19.
If they don’t want to cut ties and pay him guaranteed money to not be a Grizzly, they could flip him to a rebuilding team that could afford the cheap flier. They could also look to attach him to a potential trade, like one involving Gorgui Dieng or Kyle Anderson.
The Grizzlies could also look at his contract situation and decide to give him one more year, where they see if he could rekindle his shooting touch. Sometimes, that’s all a player needs to flip a switch. That’s probably the most unlikely scenario out of all this, but 2020 is crazy after all.
The Grizzlies smacked home runs, and even good base hits, with their moves the past year. You sometimes have misses along the way, and last offseason’s miss was Marko Guduric. This offseason, we’ll see what lies ahead for the Grizzlies and Guduric.