John Konchar is well-known for his social media slogan — and official brand with sweet merchandise — “jitty.”
Konchar is also known for his instant production across the board. It can get quite impeccable to be honest. You’ll look up in the box score, and he’ll have stuffed the stat sheet with rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Through his persistent hustle and nose for the basketball, it’s clear as day that John Konchar fits the mold of the Grizzlies standard.
He’s a gritty player that does the dirty work of targeting and diving on the floor for 50/50 balls. He’s an unselfish player that has a knack of finding his teammates off of drives, in transition, or in the flow of the offense. He plays smart defense as well — possessing great timing on steals, blocks, and deflections.
When things go awry with the injury bug or health and safety protocols, isn’t that the kind of player you want in those spot minutes to be ready to go?
John Konchar has proven to be that guy, and as he enters year 3 we’ll see if he can use his consistent productivity and the aspects of the Grizzlies standard to land himself a rotation role down the road.
Let’s start with his renowned rebounding abilities. His nose for the ball is apparent through his ability to snag rebounds. He took a step down from his dominant rookie year rebounding numbers where he netted defensive rebounding, offensive rebounding, and total rebounding percentages greater than 10%, but he still put together a solid campaign on that aspect of the game. He notched a rebounding percentage of 11.8%, which was 9th among guards that played at least 500 minutes, per Stathead. His strong rebounding and knack for loose balls helps them go smaller without sacrificing too much on the glass.
When it comes to tallying assists, there’s a distinction between getting them through the flow of the offense and through actually creating looks — a connector and a playmaker. Konchar is a playmaker. In the extended on-ball reps he received in the Summer League, he looked comfortable in that role — for the environment — and did a good job setting the table for his teammates. As Taylor Jenkins continues to develop this offensive system around having as many playmakers on the floor as possible, Konchar fits the mold. He’s a good connective passer that can play within the flow of the offense, but he can also find his teammates for dimes in transitions or by attacking close-out’s.
John Konchar told the media at Media Day that he’s willing to do whatever coach asks of him, primarily mentioning diving on the floor for loose balls. He was 4th on the team in deflections per 36 minutes (3.5), and he was in the 98th percentile in steal percentage this past season (2.2%) — per Cleaning the Glass. The Grizzlies continue to pride themselves on being an elite defense, slotting at the top of the league in steals per game (9.1) and 4th in deflections per game (16.3). As they rely on constant defensive activity and deflections to generate fast-break opportunities, Konchar is a fit for that vision with his ability to get deflections.
When it comes to embodying the entirety of the Grizzlies standard, and to solidifying a role in the rotation, Konchar’s reliance and consistency on his outside shot will be the biggest factors into doing so.
In an interview with “The Core 4” podcast last year, Konchar said a focus in his game is continuing to hone his craft from the outside and to let it fly with confidence. He made strides in doing so this past season, upping his attempts per game volume from 0.5 to 1.3, and his 3-point attempt rate from 27% to 40.6%. In addition, he connected on 37.5% of his 56 tries. It’s a great start, and his low sample size is a bigger product of his playing time rather than his willingness.
Going forward, it’s going to be important for his trajectory for him to keep letting it fly. Is he going to be asked to become someone like Duncan Robinson or Joe Harris when it comes to 3-point percentages or volume? Probably not — it’d be cool if he did, but it’s unlikely for him to do that or for that to be asked of him. However, can he let it fly when he has a good opening and make defenses pay? That’s going to be a key element in the evolution. Obviously, more 3’s equal more points, and more points are cool. If Konchar can continue to build confidence with his shot, then defenses will respect his jumper; that should open opportunities for him to attack closeouts for shots around the basket or to find his teammates for cleaner looks.
John Konchar does a lot of good things on the court, and his progression as a 3-point threat will play a major role into doing more of what he does best.
There’s a reason why the Memphis Grizzlies signed John Konchar to a Sam Hinkie type deal in the 2020 offseason. He embodies the Grizzlies standard of high-character players that can create for others, bring defensive tenacity, and maintain attention to detail to the little things that help win.
At this moment, Konchar may not end up on the opening night, or fully healthy, 10-man rotation. Nonetheless, he’s a quality player to have in that 12-13th man role. He can step in for 10-12 minutes, do his job to give the starters a breather, and produce across the board.
That’s important for the Grizzlies to have now for injury concerns, but he’s also a really good asset to have for the long-term plans. If the Grizzlies plan to consolidate some assets and players in the next 12-18 months, Konchar could slide up to that 10th and final rotation spot to still maintain good depth behind the starters.
He’s ideal in his role and for the Grizzlies situation both now and down the road.
For Konchar to evolve into a full-time rotation player though, whether it’s now or in another season or two, is his progression as an outside threat. He’s a great hustle player that does the dirty work needed to win games, but the idea of him becoming a full-time rotation player could be a reality as he embraces the 3-ball.
If that happens, I foresee plenty of jitty-ness and dunk shots in the future.
Stats found on nba.com/stats and basketball-reference