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Credit: Victory Creative

MikeCheck: As young Grizzlies prep for NBA Summer League, Brooks aiding Canada’s quest for FIBA World Cup

by Michael Wallace | Grind City Media

MEMPHIS – Offseason improvement for the Grizzlies extends much farther than the two NBA-sanctioned summer leagues their draft picks and young players will compete in to open July.

Dillon Brooks, last season’s breakout second-round pick, is taking his development to a global stage. While the Grizzlies’ other first, second or third-year players will spend the next two weeks in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas summer leagues, Brooks is competing with the Canadian National Team in his native country’s quest to qualify for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China.

Brooks, named among the 12 finalists earlier this week on Canada's roster, scored 14 points and added three rebounds, three assists and two steals in Friday's 97-61 win in Toronto over Dominican Republic. Canada will face the U.S. Virgin Islands on Monday in Ottawa in phase three of the FIBA World Cup Qualifier. It's possible Brooks may then be available to join his Memphis teammates in Las Vegas. The Grizzlies are supportive of Brooks’ role with Canada, which is vying to make the field for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Dillon Brooks; Credit: Victory Creative

“It’s competition for him,” Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Brooks, who grew up just outside of Toronto before attending Oregon and becoming the Pac-12 Player of the Year. “The nature of competition is different when you’re playing with your national team. There’s a tie to country. A lot of guys grow up – and you see it – wanting to be the elite of the elite of your country. And it’s a huge deal to help your country to be a world contender.” 

In addition to Brooks, Canada’s national team includes fellow NBA players in Miami’s Kelly Olynyk, Dallas’ Dwight Powell, Indiana’s Cory Joseph and Orlando’s Khem Birch. Also on the team is 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, one of two players on Canada’s roster from the NBA G League. 

Brooks, picked 45th overall in last year’s NBA Draft, was the only rookie to play in all 82 regular-season games this past season. Brooks made 74 starts and averaged 11 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 28.7 minutes a game as he rotated between shooting guard and small forward. 

Some of his best contributions came in the second half of his rookie season, when Brooks played on the World Team that beat Team USA in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. Brooks also capped the season with a career-high 36 points on 14-for-22 shooting in the April 11 season finale against Oklahoma City.

Dillon Brooks; Credit: Victory Creative

Brooks is expected to compete in the Grizzlies’ fall training camp to retain a starting role next season. He is part of a roster youth movement bolstered last week by the draft night additions of No. 4 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. and No. 32 pick Jevon Carter. The two rookies will make their summer league debut on Monday in Salt Lake City against the Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies’ summer team also features returning players Kobi Simmons, Wayne Selden, Deyonta Davis and Ivan Rabb, and they begin the Las Vegas summer league schedule on July 7.

Although Brooks won’t initially be developing alongside the Grizzlies’ young core, Bickerstaff said he’s communicated with him about improving his game with Team Canada. Through three recent games, which included two exhibitions against China before Friday's outing in the World Cup qualifier, Brooks is averaging 15 points on 51.7-percent shooting from the field, including 50-percent on threes, in 18 minutes a game. 

The things we want him to carry over are also the things that are important there. You want to be unselfish, be committed to winning. It’s not an individual skill thing. We’re not telling him to go out there and score 20. We’re telling him to go there and fit in, do the small things that contribute to winning and play for something bigger than yourself.
-- J.B. Bickerstaff

“For this, we kind of stand out of the way,” Bickerstaff added. “The things we want him to carry over are also the things that are important there. You want to be unselfish, be committed to winning. It’s not an individual skill thing. We’re not telling him to go out there and score 20. We’re telling him to go there and fit in, do the small things that contribute to winning and play for something bigger than yourself.” 

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.