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John Konchar is more than just numbers

The third-year guard proved to not just be an advanced stats star

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After showing enough promise to earn a four-year contract extension in December of 2020, John Konchar continued to play his way into Taylor Jenkins’ rotation. The third-year guard played in 72 games this season, starting seven of those games. Konchar averaged just shy of 18 minutes per game, an increase from 2020-21’s 13.4. Konchar’s elevation from an end of the bench type player to a solidified role player is surely a welcome sight for both Konchar and the Grizzlies, as Konchar’s production has started to increase as he has received more minutes.

Konchar’s main weapon on the court is his three-point shooting, and he proved himself to be a reliable shooter this season over a larger sample size than in previous seasons. Konchar knocked down 41.3% of his 126 attempts from beyond the arc. Konchar was second on the team in three-point field goal percentage, behind only sophomore sharpshooter Desmond Bane.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Konchar’s regular stat averages don’t jump off the page. He averaged 4.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists throughout the course of the season. But when you dig down deeper into the advanced metrics, you can see that John Konchar has a winning effect on the Grizzlies. Konchar was seventh on the team in Win Shares with 4.2, and second in TS% among qualified Grizzlies behind Brandon Clarke, putting up a .615. Konchar did all of this while being dead last in usage rating amongst qualified teammates. In games where Konchar logged more than 25 minutes, the Grizzlies went 8-2.

And while the cliché of Konchar’s career has been basketball nerds shouting about how good his advanced stats have been, Konchar put together a stretch this year that showed that his talent isn’t observable solely through analytics.

In a 17-game span during November and December, Konchar hit threes at an astounding rate, shooting 59.4% from downtown. The Grizzlies went 12-5 in that span. Konchar also notched three double-doubles on the season as well as his first career triple-double against the Celtics, putting up 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With the likely departure of Tyus Jones this offseason, it’s possible that Konchar sees more minutes next season coming off the bench alongside fellow former Hustle member De’Anthony Melton. It’s important to keep in mind the positional versatility that Konchar offers playing between the one, the two and the three with the Grizzlies likely losing Kyle Anderson as well. While Konchar only played 17% of his minutes at the small forward position this season, he is experienced with those minutes, having played there 35% of the time in 20-21. Konchar can fill in minutes at both point guard and small forward if need be, and that versatility could prove incredibly valuable for the Grizzlies’ bench unit.

There’s also the possibility that Konchar gets thrown into a package deal this offseason, as the Grizzlies might look to make a move for a star. Personally, I don’t think this is as likely as some people may think. I think that the front office would be smarter to try and improve from the draft and free agency than go out and make a big splash in the trade market. And I would be hesitant to deeply shake up the roster too much.

Overall, Konchar’s progress this season showed that the third-year shooting guard can offer something valuable to the Grizzlies. From his three-point shooting to his rebounding and overall hustle while on the floor, Konchar could prove to be an important part of the Grizzlies’ plans going forward.

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