Relax for a minute. Before you spit out a quick no, just let me make my case. I already know what you're about to say anyway.
“Dillon is like 6’6”-6’7” max — how can he defend NBA power-forwards?”
“Dillon only averages around three rebounds per game...”
“No Sain — just no...”
I get it. I get all of it, but I can also see a path where it works — both short-term while Jaren Jackson Jr is out with injury at least, and if it works out, maybe Dillon can be the power forward of the future that ultimately bumps Jaren up to the center spot.
When Karl-Anthony Towns was going off on the entire Memphis Grizzlies roster last year in the playoffs, Dillon Brooks slid over and played excellent minutes against one of the league's best centers. Brooks, who is 6’7”, would not be expected to fair well against the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Davis on a regular basis, but he also wouldn't have to see players of that caliber on a regular basis.
Today’s NBA is full of small-ball power forwards who 4-5 years ago would be NBA small forwards. Guys like Draymond Green, Jae Crowder, Kyle Kuzma, PJ Tucker, etc have all been able to hold their own at the power forward position, and physically I believe that Brooks is strong and physically aggressive enough to hold his own.
Will there be nights where guys like Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Zion Williamson get the best of him? Sure, but those guys get the best of everyone — Dillon included. If Dillon played some minutes at power forward, there would undoubtedly be games where he looks out of place but for the most part, I think he will be able to not only defend other fours, but he can be a very versatile weapon offensively as well.
With Dillon at the 4 until Jaren returns, it gives the Grizzlies a lineup with Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Dillon Brooks and Steven Adams. This lineup surrounds Ja Morant with three players that can at least, in theory, knock down three-pointers and Adams who can rebound and set screens. Adams covers the deficiencies of Jaren Jackson Jr. as a rebounder, so Dillon’s poor rebounding numbers won’t be much more of a concern. With Jaren out, this lineup also puts your best wing players on the court at the same time with the bench being anchored by Tyus Jones and Brandon Clarke.
Dillon Brooks moving up to play power forward also allows for the inevitable — a transition to allow a clear path for second-year Ziaire Williams to move into the starting small forward position. When Jaren comes back, it allows a smooth transition for Dillon to move to the bench and for Ziaire to stay in the starting lineup at small forward. From the bench, Dillon can be your primary scoring option and can either be a wing or play minutes at the backup power-forward spot. I have always said that the best use of Dillon’s abilities on this team would be as a 6th man, and I think that him starting in a position that has an expiration date could really help make that go over more smoothly.
Another interesting aspect of Dillon playing power foward to start the season this year is that in a perfect world he could ultimately be the team’s long term power-forward as well. It’s been presumed that Jaren Jackson Jr. will ultimately move away from being a power-foward and become the team’s full-time center. In that event, Dillon could possibly be the full time power-forward.
Could the Grizzlies bolster a lineup of the future that consist of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr? Itounds like a matchup nightmare for the rest of the league for years to come, and if not as a starting lineup, it could definitely become the Grizzlies own version of a “Death Lineup”
I personally hope that Dillon Brooks starts the season at power forward until Jaren comes back. His strength, his effort, his defensive ability and his scoring ability feel like they can make him be able to hold his own on a nightly basis. I can see reasons why it won’t work as well, but I am really hoping to see it play out on the court.