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MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Andrew Harrison

By Michael Wallace
Grind City Media

MEMPHIS – What’s next for the Memphis Grizzlies?

Who stays? Who goes?

How will the Grit’N’Grind era continue to evolve?

Those questions and more face the Grizzlies as they embark on an offseason destined for change after their seventh consecutive playoff trip ended in a six-game series loss to the Spurs in the opening round. There’s plenty of optimism moving forward. There’s also clearly something most fans, players, coaches and executives agree on: 43 wins, a No. 7 seed in the playoffs and a first-round exit aren’t good enough.

Over a stretch of 17 weekdays, we’ll dive into our ‘Offseason Outlook’ series that breaks down my personal analysis as to where each player on the Grizzlies’ roster stands, in addition to coach David Fizdale and general manager Chris Wallace, entering a potentially pivotal offseason.

Player: Andrew Harrison, 22

Measurables: 6-6, 213 – Rookie NBA Season

2016-17 Stats: 5.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 20.5 mpg, 18 starts

Status: Due $987,525 for 2017-18 salary in second season of three-year deal.

Notable

Harrison led all rookies in minutes per game through the first two months of the season and finished 12th after several non-playoff teams played rookies for extended stretches late in the season. Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon is the only rookie who averaged more postseason minutes than Harrison.

Quoting Harrison

Overall, I think my rookie season was a success. We didn’t end on a high note, but we got a lot of things done. We went through a lot of adversity this year. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I look forward to being able to come back and help this team. I have the confidence that I can. I still have a lot to work on. I still have to get a lot better. I’m looking forward to the future.

Upside

Harrison was an opening-night starter for the Grizzlies, and went on to play in 72 games in what essentially was his redshirt rookie season after spending last year in the D-League. The Grizzlies kept looking elsewhere for someone to handle the backup point guard role, but coach David Fizdale made his way back to Harrison each time. Say this much for the kid; he’s resilient and never rattled. His size, temperament and defensive drive are advanced for his experience level. Harrison’s chase-down blocks against the Spurs and Clippers were two of the biggest highlights of the season. He also improved as a shooter in the playoffs after a dreadful regular season. All in all, there’s something to build on here.

Downside

The Grizzlies played a total of 95 games, counting the preseason, regular season and playoffs, and still never found a suitable, reliable backup point guard for Mike Conley. So they’ll head into yet another offseason seeking a solution to a seemingly annual dilemma. Harrison is a solid development option as a third point guard or, better yet, a reserve combo guard. But he doesn’t offer the elements of speed and consistent shooting that Fizdale hopes will be addressed as a priority this offseason. When Harrison plays alongside Conley, the Grizzlies were especially a better defensive team. But Harrison just isn’t at the point yet where he exudes confidence on offense and can alleviate Conley’s burden.

Bottom line

The concern here is the Grizzlies have invested time in Harrison and a first-round draft pick in fellow rookie Wade Baldwin IV, but I haven’t seen enough progress in either to enter next season with confidence. Conley is at his peak right now, and the drop-off when he exits the court is far too steep to repeat this cycle next season. Harrison could theoretically slide to shooting guard, assuming his field-goal percentage will improve from this year’s 32.5-percent clip. But this may come down to making a choice between Harrison and Baldwin. The goal should be to maximize Conley’s peak these next few seasons. Harrison may eventually blossom. But acquiring a reliable veteran right now is clearly essential.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.