Every basketball fan has that one bad player they like. When the season started, I had high hopes for Josh Selby. He was coming off of co-MVP honors in the Summer League alongside none other than Damian Lillard. The Grizzlies had dropped guard O.J. Mayo in the offseason, and the only guards on the bench were Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington and Tony Wroten. Selby had as good a shot as any of them to replace Mayo as the go-to guard off of the bench.
However, what was shaping up to potentially be a nice season for Selby fell apart quickly. By the end of the season, he had played for three different D-League teams, been traded once, and eventually released.
Interestingly, the start of Josh Selby’s career might have been foreboding of how it went for him this season. Selby was a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school. He averaged 32 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals at Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore. Rivals ranked him as their number one prospect in 2010, and both Scout and ESPN ranked him 5th.
Selby was recruited by Kentucky, Conneticut, Tennessee, Arizona and Kansas, whom he eventually committed to. He joined a loaded Jayhawks squad that included eventual NBA players Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. The Jayhawks were viewed as title contenders, and Selby was expected to be a huge part of it.
However, things took a turn for the worse. A NCAA investigation revealed that Selby had received $5,757.58 in improper benefits from “family friend” Bay Frazier, who was also the business manager for Carmelo Anthony. He was suspended for nine games and fined.
By the time he came back, the Jayhawks had established a rotation that was leading college basketball in many statistical categories. Selby made a strong debut, scoring 21 including the game-winning three-pointer against UCLA, but injuries reared their ugly head along the way and he was unable to put it together. He finished the season averaging 7.4 points on 37.3% from the floor with 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in just 20.4 minutes per game.
Selby declared for the 2011 NBA Draft, and was selected by the Grizzlies with the 49th pick. It wasn’t an eventful year for him, to say the least, as O.J. Mayo played almost all of the backcourt minutes off of the bench. Selby played just 8.5 minutes per game across 28 games, averaging just 2.3 points on 34.7% shooting. With the Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, Selby averaged much more impressive stats: 25.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists in 34.3 minutes.
Fast forward to the Summer League–possibly the best period of Selby’s basketball career. In five games, he averaged 24.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals, all in just 27.4 minutes per game and against much more stronger competition than in the D-League. The percentages were gaudy: 55.7% from the floor, 88.9% from the line, and a ridiculous 64.3% on threes. As I said earlier, Selby finished with co-MVP honors alongside Damian Lillard, who of course went on to win Rookie of the Year this season.
However, this season, Selby’s sophomore season, was even worse than his rookie year. Mayo was gone, replaced by Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington, and rookie Tony Wroten. Selby had a shot at playing time, coming off of his Summer League performance. But, Bayless emerged as the de facto guard behind Mike Conley and Tony Allen, and Ellington soaked up most of the rest of the minutes. Selby played just 5.9 minutes per game across 10 games with Memphis, scoring 2.0 points on 27.3% shooting. He was sent back down to the D-League for two games.
Then, came the trade. Nope, not the Rudy Gay trade. Selby was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a salary dump alongside Marreese Speights as the Grizzlies received forward Jon Leuer in return. Selby didn’t see any playing time at all with the Cavs, instead being sent down to the D-League’s Canton Charge and averaging 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 11 games that weren’t nearly as fun as last year’s D-League romp or the Summer League.
Eventually, Selby was waived by Cleveland. He wouldn’t get signed by another NBA team.
Instead, he joined up with his third D-League team of the season, the Maine Red Claws, for the rest of the year. Selby played 21.4 minutes in the final 10 games of the regular season, averaging once again regressed numbers (11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists). The playoffs rolled around and Selby returned closer to form, getting 34.5 minutes per game and racking up 25.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. However, the Red Claws were swept of the D-League’s best-of-three first round, giving up two games to the Rio Grande Vipers.
Just what type of player is Josh Selby exactly? First and foremost, he’s a scorer. As the stats have evidenced, he can be fire in a bottle from the perimeter, and he matches it with dribble penetration talent and exciting athleticism. His efficiency and consistency are still a major concern, and those will need to be addressed if Selby wants to make it as a scorer in the NBA. As a guard, Selby has to improve his playmaking ability as well.
Selby is still listed on the Red Claws’ roster. He recently joined a pro-am league, the Pilot Rocky Top League. In the season opener, Selby scored 50 points–true to Selby form.
Where do I fit into all of this? Well, I like Selby, to the point of worship. He was highly entertaining in pro-am games during the lockout, and seems like a good kid by all accounts. To see someone not get a chance they have at least earned is absolutely heartbreaking. I’ve grown to become very fond of him and emotionally invested into his future in the NBA.
The chance remains that he makes it to the NBA and emerges as a high-volume, low-percentage gunner, or something along those lines. First, however, I want him to get that chance.
(Also, I like Selby because he’s really good in 2K. Like, really good. If you can give him a chance in the virtual NBA, that’d be swell.)