The trade deadline is just around the corner and the Memphis Grizzlies are not expected to be major players this year. Gorgui Dieng seems to be the only player destined to be gone by the weekend. All the trade machine fun will be winding down but it has led to some debate:
Who are the players that the Memphis front office should prioritize as they continue build this team around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. going forward?
Here at Grizzly Bear Blues, a number of the staff gave their “keeper rankings”, ranking the current roster of player for who they think/want to stick around for the contending version of this team in the future.
15. Sean McDermott
Highest: Tev Shakir (12)
Lowest: Ed Memphis, Joe Mullinax, Shawn Coleman (15)
The two way player had some analytical buzz coming out of left field as the Grizzlies choice for the two way contract, but in his limited stint with the big club, he has been rather unimpressive. There was some buzz that he could be a Duncan Robinson type diamond in the rough with his quick trigger and 40% shooting in college but he will almost certainly not return in the same fashion for the Grizzlies going forward.
T-14. Jontay Porter
Highest: Ed Memphis (7)
Lowest: Justin Lewis, Parker Fleming (15)
The younger brother of Michael Porter Jr. was a flyer for the Grizzlies front office as a young stretch big with a high ceiling. So far in his brief career, Porter has not seen the floor much due to injury or injury management. He showed flashes in the G League Bubble, but due to lack of sample size, he is rightfully at the bottom of this list.
T-14 John Konchar
Highest: Ed Memphis, Joe Mullinax (11)
Lowest: Bryce Hayes (15)
Who doesn’t love to get Jitty with it? John Konchar is an analytic darling and beloved member of the Memphis Grizzlies, but he is more cult hero than building block for the future. Konchar being the last man off the bench is not a bad thing as he constantly stuffs the stat sheet in his limited minutes, he’s just not someone you prioritize for the future.
12. Gorgui Dieng
Highest: Justin, Bryce, Tev (11)
Lowest: Ben Hogan, Trevor Shipp (15)
Gorgui is on his way out by the weekend most likely, whether by trade or buyout. He should probably be last on this list but Gorgui has been a valuable sub for Memphis when Jonas has gone down. He still possesses the ability to knock down the deep ball while also being a solid rebounder and defender. If Gorgui were to ever return on a veteran minimum as a security blanket for a major injury, that would be just fine.
11. Killian Tillie
Highest: Ed (10)
Lowest: Tev (15)
Tillie is in a similar boat as Jontay Porter — small sample size. But as Shawn Coleman nailed last off season, he is exactly the type of player Memphis looks for. His ability to spread the floor will be of some value going forward, but the strong play of Xavier Tillman will most likely keep him blocked for some time.
10. Grayson Allen
Highest: Tev (4)
Lowest: Shawn, Bryce, Joe, Trevor (10)
The Good: Grayson Allen has shot 40% from deep during his tenure on Beale Street — something highly coveted in the NBA today. He’s not just a shooter as he is also able to put the ball on the floor and create for himself and for others.
The Bad: His ceiling is perhaps the lowest of the wing players left on this list. Defensively, while not being completely awful, he is also the biggest liability of any wing left on this list as well. His smaller stature and lower ceiling landed him at the ten spot.
9. Tyus Jones
Highest: Ed (4)
Lowest: Parker (10)
The Good: Tyus is the best back up point guard in Grizzlies history. He is also headed towards another season leading the NBA in Assist to Turnover ratio. He is reliable and a great fill in if Morant goes down to injury. His connection with the bench is crucial, as we all saw in the Orlando bubble.
The Bad: With the presence of secondary playmakers such as Justise Winslow, Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton, Tyus’ value to the team relies upon his Morant injury insurance. Moving towards a more defensively versatile rotation may find Tyus on the outside looking in, leaving him this low on the list.
8. Xavier Tillman
Highest: Ben, Ed (5)
Lowest: Justin (10)
The Good: Tillman was wildly impressive during his stint starting for Jonas Valanciunas. His floater was shockingly good only be to be topped by his defense. It was not just his post defense, but his ability to switch on perimeter players and keep them in front. He has a strong rebounding profile and show the ability to shoot from three. There is a lot to like from the veteran rookie.
The Bad: There is a logjam at positions Tillman plays. Kyle Anderson is best suited at the four and Winslow will find himself there as well. With the presence of JV, Jaren and Brandon Clarke, Tillman will not have much opportunity to prove himself. His below the rim play contrasts with the direction of the league, limiting the position less concept the team wants to head towards.
T-7. Kyle Anderson
Highest: Tev (3)
Lowest: Ben (10)
The Good: Kyle is in the midst of a career year. He can do it all — shoot threes, run the offense, create for others, play lock down defense, block shots, rebound — and all at his own pace. He is the “veteran” presence for this team and his consistent stellar play early in the season kept this team afloat.
The Bad: Kyle’s window might not quite line up with Ja and Jaren’s and his trade value may never be higher. His three point shooting has regressed back to what may be more normal for him over the last few weeks. His slow style of play, while it works at the four, limits his effectiveness in some lineups.
T-7. Jonas Valanciunas
Highest: Trevor, Tev (2)
Lowest: Ed (14)
The Good: JV is a walking double double. He is someone to place beside Jaren Jackson Jr to make up for his rebound weakness. He also brings about a relative veteran presence and is not afraid to hold his teammates accountable. He may be best served as an expiring contract in a trade next season, but were the front office to decide to bring him back, it would make sense due to his extremely efficient game and dominating rebounding.
The Bad: You simply cannot switch him on defense. His lack of lateral quickness has shown itself this season. He refuses to show on screens due to his inability to move against quicker guards and it has hurt Memphis greatly. With Jaren potentially moving to the five long term, JV may not be longed for Memphis.
5. Justise Winslow
Highest: Justin, Joe (3)
Lowest: Ed (12)
The Good: The swiss army knife mantra has begun to show itself as he continues to work his way back into playing shape. He can lockdown the other teams best perimeter player while also making plays for his teammates offensively. He gets to the basket very well as a slasher and fits perfectly next to Jaren and Ja long term.
The Bad: The shooting. Winslow’s jumpshot has never been a strong suit of his game at any level. You hope over time he develops a more consistent stroke. His injury history is also worrisome, which is why some had him ranked lower than top 3-4 for this team going forward.
4. Dillon Brooks
Highest: Trevor (3)
Lowest: Justin, Shawn, Tev (9)
The Good: Dillon gives it everything he has at all times, no matter what. He has the confidence to take on the toughest assignment every night and welcomes the challenge. At his best Dillon is attacking the basket, knocking down spot up shots and mid range leaners. The potential is certainly there with DB.
The Bad: As much as his potential may excite you, his reality is haunting. He still fouls at an alarming rate and has continued to shoot horrendously since his contract extension. His shot selection and timing continue to be putrid. He’s best suited as a bench scorer for a future cornerstone, not a starter playing 30 minutes with 20 shots.
3. Desmond Bane
Highest: Ed (1)
Lowest: Trevor (5)
The Good: Bane is a sniper. He is putting up absurd shooting numbers for a rookie in terms of efficiency. He has been quite the sight for sore eyes in terms of Grizzlies wings and shooting the deep ball. He has also shown the ability to score off the dribble and create for his teammates. While having a lower ceiling that a lot of players, his floor is also a lot higher.
The Bad: This is kind of an odd thing to mention, but his wingspan contributes to his lower ceiling. Were he to have the wingspan of even De’Anthony Melton, Bane would fit the profile of an elite on ball defender one day. Sadly that is not the case. If he is not knocking down shots, he can be found on the bench for now, lead him to the third slot instead of #1.
2. De’Anthony Melton
Highest: Justin, Bryce (1)
Lowest: Trevor (6)
The Good: What a meteoric rise it has been this season for Melton. He has significantly improved his three point stroke to the tune of 41% shooting. At 6’2 he has been the best rebounding guard on the team and does a little bit of everything for this team. He has years before his prime hits and is an ideal running mate for Ja.
The Bad: There is not much beyond nit picking the game of Melton. He certainly must improve in his playmaking and decision making as a back up point guard, but it may be possible its just not the role best for him.
1 Brandon Clarke
Highest: Ben, Parker, Joe, Shawn, Trevor, Tev (1)
Lowest: Justin, Bryce, Ed (2)
The Good: The only consensus top 2 player in the ranking. BC has been a revelation since the day he donned a Grizzlies jersey. He is highly efficient and effective and extremely switchable on defense. He will be a key cog in making this team a contender going forward.
The Bad: You would like to see Clarke improve his ball handling and three point stroke, but he does so many other things so well, if he did everything as well, he would be an NBA All Star.