The Memphis Grizzlies front office already has a reputation of creating something out of nothing. How do they do it?
Dillon Brooks is having a breakout season.
After two incredibly shaky years, the Memphis Grizzlies homegrown talent was only able to play 100 games over the course of his first two seasons, and where he averaged 9.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game on an average of 23.5 minutes per game.
This season, he’s blown those numbers out of the water. He’s averaging 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals per game on a shooting split of 41/38/83 with 28.4 minutes per game.
But when you look at some of the other players on this roster, this seems to be becoming a trend. Tyus Jones is averaging his highest points per game and is shooting at his best clip, Grayson Allen (before his injury) was outpacing anybody’s expectations after his rookie season, and Josh Jackson was turned from a problematic off-court personality into a 20+ point per game scorer with the Memphis Hustle.
All of these players have played under multiple systems over a short time span, which is almost always a productivity killer, and yet the team is thriving. How are they doing it?
Well, astoundingly, it’s primarily due to the efforts of the new front office. I say it’s astounding because many of the people behind the scenes with Memphis are in their position for the first time. Zach Kleiman has never been an NBA General Manager, Taylor Jenkins is coaching his first NBA team (albeit he coached in the G League team), and the team’s new President of Basketball Operations, Jason Wexler, came into the league with the Grizzlies.
Typically, front offices who are this new will struggle getting their team into the playoff race, but the Grizzlies are currently eighth in the West with a 2.5 game lead over the ninth seed team, and have gone 14-5 over the last two months after starting the season 6-13 through the same amount of games.
So how has the new front office done this? Well, primarily, it’s been about trusting the talent that they’ve acquired. There are more than a few teams that would have cut Brooks after his lackluster performance over his first two seasons. Even if they didn’t release him, there’s almost no team that would’ve signed him right after a hugely successful trade deadline to a 3-year deal worth about $12 million per year.
Grayson Allen was a player with a lot of, shall we say, “personality issues”, and he wasn’t able to back it up on the court once he got into the NBA. Still, Memphis took a risk on him in a trade with the Jazz, and he’s paid off their risk with a reliable season.
The Grizzlies have turned almost their entire roster over during the last two years, and normally that would be cause for a lot of player uncertainty. However, this new front office has shown their players that they are behind them, and have given them the confidence to perform.