Justise Winslow is finally here!
The early returns are mixed, as he’s rusty but showing flashes as a creator and a defensive stopper. As he eases back into playing full-strength basketball, we’ll see more about Justise Winslow and his fit for the Memphis Grizzlies’ long-term future.
Meanwhile, in he and Jaren Jackson Jr.’s absence, a lot of young talent have gotten a chance to show they should stick around for the next great Grizzlies team. However, as more talent comes through the drafts, and players are off rookies deals, decisions will need to be made.
For this roundtable, some of writers give their takes on Justise Winslow and his fit with the core — while also talking about who has the best shot of sticking, and where the 3rd fiddle will come from. Our roundtable participants: Parker Fleming (@paka_flocka), Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham), Lauren Harvey (@dragickingdom), Shawn Coleman (@StatsSAC), and Parish Sharkey (@daone_pshark)
What is the best use of Justise Winslow?
GBB Associate Editor Parker Fleming: Dating back to the trade, I had said the Justise Winslow was brought in to be the Grizzlies’ Andre Iguodala. To start his tenure, he has a chance to do that. He’s going to have a more featured role off the bench, but he won’t light up the scoreboard. He’ll be an elite defender that can take on all the toughest covers, while having the offense humming with his playmaking and cutting.
GBB Associate Editor Brandon Abraham: At least initially, Justise should be used as a defender and secondary facilitator. His scoring will likely be inconsistent as he shakes off some rust, but so far his passing and defense has looked great as he eases back into the action. With a lot of players capable of putting up points, the Grizzlies don’t need to focus on making Winslow a big time scorer, but use his other skills to help the team succeed.
GBB Staff Writer Lauren Harvey: Locking down the other team’s best wing scorer and helping create easy opportunities for the more reliable shooters on the roster. The upside for Winslow is there but maximizing Winslow’s defense and playmaking is most useful to the roster right now. He’s too inconsistent a shooter to be the third option.
‘The Starting 5’ Podcast Host Parish Sharkey: Right now, bringing him off the bench as 6th man as he works himself back into a groove from the long injury layoff and get acclimated with the team. After the break, start him at the 3 with hopefully JJJ back to see if he fits with Ja and JJJ as hoped.
GBB Senior Staff Writer Shawn Coleman: The best use for Justise Winslow is as the primary option to defend the opposing team’s best offensive wing and then as a secondary playmaker on offense. Winslow can be so effective limiting opposing players at times, which is a needed addition to many lineups for the Grizzlies and fits the preference of Taylor Jenkins. Winslow also can really open up the offense as a secondary playmaker to allow Ja Morant, JJJ, and others to play off the ball for scoring opportunities. At other times, Winslow can also be a catch and shoot target in the corner and around the arc for threes.
Zach Kleiman has specifically mentioned Winslow as a piece of the core. Do you see Justise as part of the core next to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.?
GBB Associate Editor Parker Fleming: I do. Is he going to be the 3rd guy? Nope, but he’s going to be a key player in whatever direction the Grizzlies do. He won’t be the wing scorer the Grizzlies need him to be, but that doesn’t matter.
GBB Associate Editor Brandon Abraham: A healthy Winslow is absolutely part of the core next to Ja and Jaren. If he can stay healthy and recover from the hip injury, he’s an elite wing defender who has shown he can take on some scoring responsibilities as well as take pressure of Ja with his ball handling and passing skills. Winslow played nearly every position with Miami, and that flexibility should also be used here in Memphis.
GBB Staff Writer Lauren Harvey: If the Grizzlies are expecting him to be a third or fourth option on offense going forward they will likely be disappointed. If they believe they have a high level rotation player that will be useful on the next Grizzlies playoff team that is a realistic and beneficial outcome. If that is your definition of a core player, then absolutely Winslow is a piece of the core.
‘The Starting 5’ Podcast Host Parish Sharkey: Hard to answer now before I see that — 1. He can stay healthy and 2. He returns to pre-injury form. My guess would be no based on the probability of his health based on his career so far although my answer was yes when the trade happened a year ago.
GBB Senior Staff Writer Shawn Coleman: At this point, I am skeptical of Justise Winslow being a part of the Grizzlies future core with Morant and JJJ. I feel the Grizzlies very much want him to be, and they will give him every opportunity. However, questions surrounding his health will always remain, and I wonder if he ever will put it all together to truly differentiate himself offensively from what you get from Kyle Anderson and others already. It comes down to how well Winslow can defend, create, and shoot from distance; if he can do all three, great, but it is fair to question if he will ever be able to do all three things consistently for the Grizzlies to invest in him long-term.
Who has most earned a membership to the “next great Grizzlies team”
GBB Associate Editor Parker Fleming: I’m going to roll with Brandon Clarke. Though his efficiency has plummeted from his outstanding rookie season, he’s still made strides in his game as a live-dribble creator, as both a playmaker and scorer. The mechanics don’t look great, but his 3-point percentage is rounding closer to his rookie year number — and he’s shooting 46.2% from 3 since the return from the season’s suspension. His improvements will shine even more when Jaren Jackson Jr., as he gives him roll-spacing and will allow him to return to the bench as the team’s de facto 6th man.
GBB Associate Editor Brandon Abraham: I’m going to cheat and give you two options. It’s either Dillon Brooks or De’Anthony Melton. I think the Grizzlies will have to move one of these two by the time the team is “great” again due to their contracts and their positions (even though I’m a big proponent of position-less basketball). I believe one of those is on the next “great” team, while the other is involved in a trade at some point in the next couple of seasons.
GBB Staff Writer Lauren Harvey: Beyond Ja and Jaren this Grizzlies team is full of young intriguing players with a lot of questions. Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton are the players I see having the skill sets to be a part of the “next great Grizzlies team”. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other guys that could stick around I just believe those players are the best fit.
‘The Starting 5’ Podcast Host Parish Sharkey: I think both rookies, Bane and Tillman, albeit early, have along with Melton. They all fit the ideal role player for the future Grizz tandem.
GBB Senior Staff Writer Shawn Coleman: The one person that truly has earned a membership on the “next great Grizzlies team” is Desmond Bane. He not only was specifically targeted in the draft for the Grizzlies to trade up to get him, but perfectly fits a long-standing need and weakness for this team. He does the one thing Taylor Jenkins prefers most in that he reliably shoots from distance, and adds so much value doing it that it makes the offense better around him. A sharpshooter is a needed part of any rotation in today’s NBA, and Bane will fit that role well for future Grizzlies’ teams.
Is Ja and Jaren’s long-term 3rd piece on this roster? If so, who is it? If not, where will they find him?
GBB Associate Editor Parker Fleming: The 3rd piece is not on this roster. I’d hope it’s through the 2021 draft; and though it’s hard to envision being in Jalen Green territory, even Moses Moody or Keon Johnson would be great. I’ll also go trade, as the trade landscape is uncertain, because no star has demanded a trade yet.
GBB Associate Editor Brandon Abraham: I do not think the long-term 3rd piece is on the roster currently. I hope Winslow can become that piece, but with his health history the team shouldn’t bank on that. I don’t think the Grizzlies will get lucky enough in the lottery to move up to get that missing piece, so they’ll have to make a trade. I think they ultimately acquire the 3rd piece by making a sizeable trade over the next 18-24 months by trading for an established star, but they could also use their stockpile of draft picks to move up in the NBA draft this summer to get that 3rd guy. Ultimately though, I’d bet on them getting someone more established and who can help immediately as the team transitions from development to more lofty goals over the next few seasons.
GBB Staff Writer Lauren Harvey: I don’t believe so. The draft or a trade is the most realistic avenue to find a long-term 3rd piece. The good news is the Grizzlies have the assets to make an impactful trade and a front office with a solid draft track record.
‘The Starting 5’ Podcast Host Parish Sharkey: As for the 3rd piece, no. The 3rd piece (probably be more of 2nd piece and bump JJJ to 3rd) has to be an elite wing scorer with that tandem and currently nobody on the roster fits that mold. They will have to find that option via trade and/or lottery luck (ala Ja Morant).
GBB Senior Staff Writer Shawn Coleman: The Grizzlies long-term third piece is not currently on this roster, and I feel that it will take a trade to eventually acquire that third piece. It seems likely Grizzlies will continue to draft well; however, at some point, I do feel the front office will recognize the need for an established star level wing and make the move to get him. That type of talent has been prevalent on championship teams over the past thirty years. With how well the front office is at drafting and acquiring assets, the Grizzlies will eventually have the attractive package they need to go all in and get the needed wing presence to add to Morant and JJJ to become a true title contender.