MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – MarShon Brooks
MEMPHIS – The Grizzlies entered an opportunistic May – the first full month of their offseason – with significant traction toward addressing some of the biggest questions looming over the franchise.
They’ve already resolved the ownership issue, with Robert Pera maintaining controlling interest in the franchise and a commitment to keeping the Grizzlies in Memphis.
They’ve already conducted exit interviews, with key players, veterans and young prospects set to distance themselves from a 22-60 season and embark on a summer of healing, conditioning, development and improvement in hopes of a return to playoff contention.
And they’re also solidifying a front-office plan that included formalizing a multi-year contract this week to retain J.B. Bickerstaff as head coach. Now, the Grizzlies are just days away from learning their fate in the May 15 draft lottery, where they are assured of a top-five pick in the June 21 NBA Draft as well as the No. 32 overall pick in the second round.
Expect the Grizzlies to be active in league-wide trade discussions surrounding the draft and July free agency, with key decisions looming on several of their own players.
So after covering the coaching situation, returning roster veterans and young/developing assets the past few weeks in Grind City Media’s ‘Offseason Outlook,’ we continue with my personal analysis of the Grizzlies’ pending free agents and veterans set to enter expiring contracts.
Player: MarShon Brooks, 29
Measurables: 6-5, 200 – 4th NBA Season
2017-18 Stats: 20.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg in 27.5mpg, shot 50% from field overall and 59.4% on threes.
Status: Due $1.7 million for 2018-19 salary in second season of a two-year deal signed last month.
Brooks scored the most points (70) in franchise history for a player through his first three games. He also joined Lorenzen Wright (2001-02) as the only Grizzlies’ players to average at least 20 points over their first three contests.
When Chris Wallace contacted Brooks in March after the 2011 NBA first-round pick returned from his third consecutive season playing in China, the Grizzlies’ general manager said he was looking to add someone to the roster who could score consistently without dominating the office. Brooks not only convinced Wallace that he found the right man for the job, he then went out and quickly executed the request. Through his first two games on a 10-day contract, Brooks poured in 45 points in 39 minutes on catch-and-shoot jumpers and quick moves off the dribble. It was the Grizzlies’ own version of ‘Linsanity,’ but at the end of a largely disappointing season. The sample size is extremely small, but in seven games Brooks showed he can be a quality scorer and facilitator that’s worth a much longer look next season.
Brooks’ prolific pace tailed off the final three games after teams developed a scouting report on him. During that stretch, he shot barely 40-percent from the field and committed nine turnovers. At age 29, Brooks isn’t quite a developmental project. He sort of is what he is, and there are legit questions as to whether he can carry the spark provided at the end of the season into the start of next season alongside a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Brooks had his moments as a defender, averaging 1.6 steals and neutralizing some opposing wing scorers in his seven games. But can he buy into a lesser role in a more stable and experienced rotation? Brooks insists he’s learned in his four years out of the league how to appreciate every minute he now gets on an NBA floor. He may force tough decisions to be made.
Here’s one thing we already know about Brooks: he’s a low-risk, high-reward investment for the Grizzlies. He’s a shooter who can potentially play off the ball alongside Conley, and also handles adequately enough to run occasional offense. Brooks is a luxury in a deep guard rotation that could use some clarity, with Ben McLemore, Andrew Harrison, Wayne Selden and Dillon Brooks in tow. If Tyreke Evans returns in free agency, that’s another frontline rotation player in the mix. At worst, Brooks is insurance and an encouraging stopgap if there’s any attrition via trades and/or free agency. And at best, he stands to be a remarkable find as a motivated player, determined to reestablish his NBA career on a Grizzlies’ team that can use his streak shooting, perimeter length and veteran savvy in a solid backcourt.
The momentum of me playing well at the end of the year, there’s a small sample size of games, but I know exactly what I need to work on to get stronger in certain areas. You’ll see a more comfortable MarShon next season. I’m just going to work as hard as I can this summer to carve out a role in the rotation. I only had 10 days to make an impression initially. It’s working out for me.
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.