Grizzlies

Grizzlies’ Offseason Study Guide: Dillon Brooks

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The NBA season is quickly approaching and it’s time for players to kick their training into high gear. The rigorous training that NBA athletes go through is not only physical, but mental as well.

In this “Offseason Study Guide” series, we will work our way through the Memphis Grizzlies roster and assign them current and former players to research and scrutinize in an attempt to improve their game for the upcoming season and beyond. I’ve broken down the game into multiple components and then provided two players per category for the Grizzlies to study. 

Previously, we took a look at Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant and gave them some players to study in this shortened offseason. The third man to enter our film room is the most polarizing and erratic player on the Grizzlies roster: Dillon Brooks. The Oregon guard usually is a key player in deciding the day-to-day fate of the Grizzlies and their season. Let’s take him through our study session and show him a few players he can learn from to help take his game to the next level.

Offense 

Davis Bertans

 

There are a few players across the league who have experienced an uptick in usage and efficiency over the past few seasons with the evolution of the game. One of these players is Wizards forward Davis Bertans. The stretch big man boasts a long frame with his 6’10” height, which exceeds Dillon Brooks by several inches. However, Brooks has much that he can learn from the pure shooter.

Bertans just completed his fourth season in the league where he averaged career highs in points, threes attempted and threes made. Bertans shot 42.4% from beyond the arc and was one of the best shooters at the forward position in the league. While Bertans was average at rim proficiency and mediocre in most other statistical areas, he excelled beyond the arc.

A sign of maturity from Bertans is that he knew his role with Washington and stuck to what he was best at — shooting and nailing threes. He had no interest in scoring in mid-range, where his proficiency was in the bottom quartile in the league. While you would like to see slightly better finishing ability at the rim, I’m sure Memphis would take the 15 points per night  — with over ten of those from three — that a pure shooter can provide. That would do wonders for the Grizzlies spacing and offensive flow. 

Buddy Hield

If there is one player in the league that Memphis fans want Dillon to be more like, it is probably Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings.

Though he has had some turbulent times in Sacramento from a coachability or culture standpoint, Hield is a solid player who you could plug and play on almost any roster in the country. Hield is a career 41% shooter from three on 6.7 attempts per game, though he saw a slight dip in three point efficiency (39.4%) after an uptick in three-point attempts last season (9.6 per game).

For the year, ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry ranked Hield as a top-ten shooter in the NBA. One contrast between Hield and Dillon Brooks is how Hield holds a much more consistent average between catch-and-shoot attempts and shooting off the dribble. For Brooks, he either needs to be more selective with his shot attempts, which should drastically help him become more effective with his pull-ups. 

Defense

Wesley Matthews

The first player Dillon Brooks can study on the defensive side of the ball is savvy NBA veteran Wesley Matthews. The 33-year-old guard was a critical component in the Milwaukee Bucks’ number-one-ranked defense. He started all 67 games that he played in last season. Matthews ranked second among all guards in the league in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus statistic.

For some perspective, this statistic really likes Brooks’ game as well —  he ranked 7th in this category among guards. Matthews was third in defensive wins and had the second-best Defensive Rating on the Bucks, behind only the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Matthews on the court, Milwaukee was six points per 100 possessions better on defense than with him on the bench. 

Though he is not a flashy defensive player who earns traditional counting stats like blocks and steals, he makes scoring a challenge for his opponents. Last season, he was fifth among all guards who played in 40 or more games in Defended Field Goal Percentage at 40.2%. As a guy who has sustained a career in the NBA with his 3-and-D skill set, he is a player for many young guys to emulate.

Matisse Thybulle

Let’s move to the other end of the age spectrum now and shift our focus towards Philly. Matisse Thybulle was the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and has made an immediate impact for the 76ers on defense. The rookie played in 65 games and averaged a shade under 20 minutes per contest. He averaged 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. According to Cleaning The Glass, his steal and block rates are both in the upper echelon (100th and 97th percentile) among all wings. Among all players in the NBA, he ranked 12th in the defensive portion of 538’s RAPTOR metric.

Throughout the course of the season, he was tasked with guarding many opposing impact players like Kemba Walker, Zach LaVine and Kyle Lowry. Many of these players he held to significantly under their normal scoring numbers with them as his defensive assignment. Thybulle hasn’t logged the heavy minutes yet, but he is a player to keep an eye on as he faces tougher challenges on defense.

Passing

Tyler Herro

Tyler Herro was one of several rookie snipers that helped Miami reach the NBA Finals. However, deadeye shooting is not the only skill that the lottery pick from Kentucky possesses. Herro was drafted 13th by Miami in 2019 and was nothing short of fantastic for the Heat in his first season. He is well known for his impressive three-point shooting, where he hit nearly 40% of his attempts.

An underrated aspect of Herro’s game lies in his passing. The former Wildcat showed out in this area during Miami’s playoff push, especially after veteran guard Goran Dragic went out with an injury. Tyler’s assists per 36 minutes rose from 2.9 per 36 minutes in the regular season to 3.9 in the playoffs. During the playoffs, Herro could be found consistently bringing the ball up the court and dishing dimes to his teammates. Though shooting is his primary skill, Herro still has the wherewithal to create opportunities for others through his passing abilities. This makes him a critical cog in the organized Miami offensive scheme.

Zach LaVine

One player who is known by many for his leaping and scoring abilities is the aforementioned LaVine. According to Cleaning The Glass, LaVine is in the 94th percentile for assist percent among those at his position at 21.8%. As the Bulls’ leading scorer, he also carries one of the highest usage rates at his position as well and ranks in the 97th percentile.

On the flip side, Dillon Brooks ranks near average in assist percentage while still carrying a high usage rate — leading to a terrible assist-to-usage comparison. LaVine is a guy that many Grizzlies fans would love to see in a Memphis jersey, but know that he would only be added to the roster at a high price. He’s essentially an upgrade over Dillon Brooks in every aspect outside of defense. 

Rebounding

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics contributes in so many ways. One of those ways is by consistently being one of the best rebounding wings in the league. This past season, he made a leap and solidified himself as a beast on the boards. Per 36 minutes, Brown hauls in 6.8 boards and boasted elite offensive and defensive rebound percentages. While Brooks rebounds fairly well on the offensive side of the court, he has much room to improve on the defensive end.

In general, rebounding was a weakness for the Grizzlies this season. Outside of Jonas Valanciunas, there really wasn’t another consistent rebounder in the starting lineup. Brandon Clarke held his own on the bench boards, but Memphis lost a lot of opportunities by failing to secure loose balls. Brooks was 7th on the Grizzlies in total rebounds this season, despite leading the team in minutes played. Clearly he doesn’t prioritize this part of the game, but could learn a lot from watching how Jaylen Brown seeks out rebounds while still putting up points and playing tough defense.

Will Barton

A scrappy and often overlooked player, Denver’s Will Barton plays with a lot of heart and tenacity that shows up in the rebounding column of the box score. The eight-year NBA veteran averages 6.2 rebounds per 36 over the course of his career and ranks in the 87th percentile of wing rebounders on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

I may or may not have selected Will the Thrill because he played college ball for the University of Memphis. It wasn’t the only factor, but it played a part. He was an electric player then and has continued to find a way to stay relevant and have a long NBA career. It pays to have guys like this on your roster and Dillon Brooks would do well to study a veteran and fellow second-round pick who has experienced staying power in the NBA.

Follow us on Twitter @Grizz_Lead for the latest Grizzlies news and insight. 

About Zak White

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