Dillon Brooks has always been the same. You could count on him, night in and night out, to give it everything he had at all times, providing energy for the Grizzlies. He has routinely guarded the other team’s best player all while having the mentality of killer on the offensive end.
The only problem is that, at times, the results don’t always equal the mentality, leading to his fair share of scrutiny. Dillon has had to be the alpha scorer on the team during different stretches of his career, but a true alpha also has good shot selection and knows when to get others involved. Brooks has lacked the basketball IQ in both areas thus far in his career.
However, an evolution appears to be taking place. Heading into this season Brooks mentioned an emphasis on his playmaking due to film and discussions with the coaching staff about his poor decision making.
If you have watched any this season, for all but one game, it was obvious that Dillon was making an intentional effort to make the extra pass and be that playmaker. It has also been obvious that it is not natural for him to have that mindset. He has struggled to pass out of traps/double teams and also forcing passes at time. But you live with those things as he grows. What the team can no longer live with is the poor shot selection and selfishness.
The expectations do need to be tempered. When you talk about Dillon morphing into more of a complete guard, the expectation can not be Jrue Holiday or Bradley Beal. Here are some player comparisons that would be more reasonable expectations for DB as a playmaker.
2019-20 Stats: 32 minutes, 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds , 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals with 38/35/84 shooting splits
Marcus Smart is such a serviceable secondary playmaker that the Boston Celtics can get away with him at the back up point guard for stretches. There would need to be a little more scoring from Dillon for Memphis to be a successful team with a better efficiency than Smart but this comparison is more focused on the three stat combo of rebounds-assists-steals.
With Jaren Jackson Jr. struggling to be a rebounder at times, Dillon at his size needs to pitch in more on the boards to the tune of 4 or more rebounds per night. 5 assists may be a little much to ask of DB and probably not needed from him, as Jenkins’ system produces enough ball movement. The steals number combined with the other three on efficient numbers makes Dillon a cemented starter on a competing Grizzlies team in the future.
2019-20 Stats: 33 minutes, 15 points, 6.3 rebounds , 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals with 45/38/77 shooting splits
Will Barton is perhaps the best case scenario, statistically speaking, for Dillon Brooks. 15 points next to Ja, Jaren and Jonas should be plenty on a nightly basis to contribute to consistent winning. The rebounding number is higher than you could probably ever expect from Dillon as he guards the other team’s best perimeter player, but Barton’s assist number is more comparable and expected for DB.
When thinking of Will Barton, facilitator is not what comes to mind. He has a similar mindset as Brooks offensively, but is a bit more natural as a playmaker. Brooks could certainly be a better player than Barton at the end of their careers, but as far as what this team needs, a Barton-esque role would be ideal.
2019-20 Stats: 34 minutes, 22.1 points, 5.5 rebounds , 5.6 assists and 1 steals with 53/26/85 shooting splits
Whoa Whoa Whoa. Pump the brakes. DeMar is an All Star, and DB probably never will be. I know. I am referring to 2019-20 DeRozan as a comp that Memphis needs Dillon to approach while Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are out.
Memphis needs 20+ from Dillon while also dishing out 5-6 assists if Memphis is going to win games without their two stars. This is a lofty, yet achievable expectation. This version of DeRozan is a far cry from Toronto All-Star, making this a not so ludicrous comparison, I promise. Why can’t you expect Dillon to score 20+ on 53% shooting from the field with 5 rebounds and 5 assists while Ja and Jaren are out? We know he can go for 20, so if his goal is to be a more complete player, why not challenge him to reach these numbers on a significantly better percentage from deep.
Everyone remembers the insane stat last season about the Grizzlies record when DB goes for 20+. Rarely, was the team without both of their young franchise cornerstones, so Dillon will need to provide the scoring but also contribute on the glass and get his teammates the ball. It is obviously a lot to ask of any one player, but it is not impossible. Dillon will have to continue to change his mindset and become more comfortable playing that way, but if successful, an evolved Dillon Brooks only bumps the Grizzlies contending window sooner rather than later.