Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks has shot to prominence in recent days. Brooks starred in both Grizzlies games against the Warriors. He came up huge as Memphis shocked the Jazz on Sunday.
Brooks has spent the last couple of seasons in the shadows. Not only in a small market, Brooks is behind Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr in the spotlight pecking order. The stellar performances of Jonas Valanciunas have attracted more attention, and the extraordinary game of Slow-Mo Kyle Anderson is a common fascination.
Dillon Brooks analysis
Quietly, Brooks has become one of the better non-stars in the NBA. He won’t make the All-Defense teams, but he warrants consideration.
Though his foul totals have been given an unfortunate amount of attention in recent days, Brooks’ defense has been spectacular. He nullified Stephen Curry in the final game of the regular season. He was everywhere as the Grizz beat the Spurs. Fouling comes with aggressive defense, and few play as hard on that end every night as Brooks.
Brooks is to Memphis as Marcus Smart is to Boston. He takes the toughest defensive assignment. He leads by ferocious example. On offense, he can do a bit of everything, and while not always efficient, he can be a game-winner on that end.
Unsurprisingly, Brooks’ 2.8 deflections per game ranks among the top 20 qualifying players. Advanced stats are not so kind to Brooks. He turns it over a lot for a player with 2.3 assists and being below average from three on almost six attempts per game is suboptimal.
Coldly analysing Brooks’ game misses what he’s about, though. He isn’t the perfect polished player, and there are flaws, but that’s a small price to play for the unrelenting hustle, for the willingness to take shots.
He’s a good enough shooter that you want him to take threes. Players who turn down open looks can be far more problematic than Brooks shooting around 35%, particularly on a Grizzlies roster which desperately needs shooting around Morant and Valanciunas.
Brooks has taken on greater offensive workload over the last three games, too. He’s at 8.7 possessions per game as the pick-and-roll ball handler, per NBA Stats. That’s way up from his 4.6 in the regular season.
Seeing Brooks handle the rock might concern some Grizzlies fans. He’s an average passer. The shot selection can be dodgy.
It has, though, allowed Morant to either rest or operate as an off-ball cutter, and given a limited Memphis offense a different look. As the pick-and-roll ball handler, Brooks has also exploded from 0.8 points per possession in the regular season to 0.96 in the play-in and playoffs.
Memphis is 8.9 points per 100 possessions better with Brooks on the floor, per Cleaning The Glass. That ranks up in the 91st percentile. He’s a knockdown corner three-point shooter and sits in 76th percentile in steal rate. While plenty of stats are unkind to the Memphis guard, it’s impossible to downplay his impact on winning.
Brooks is already on one of the league’s better contracts. If he can edge his above-the-break three-point shooting percentage to around league average, he will be the perfect complementary piece for the Grizzlies alongside Morant and Jackson.