What the return of Dillon Brooks means for Ziaire Williams

Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ziaire Williams, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
Memphis Grizzlies Ziaire Williams
Jan 31, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ziaire Williams (8) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward Ziaire Williams has had a really good and productive rookie campaign.

In fact, he’s probably surpassed the expectations many fans had when we learned the Grizzlies were trading-up to select him No. 10 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.

In 49 appearances this season, Williams is averaging 7.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.9 apg on 45.1 FG%. Much of his advancement and development was made possible by the absence of Dillon Brooks.

Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ziaire Williams has new role in final stretch of season

Williams started a majority of the games in which Brooks missed because of injury. We saw massive growth from the former Stanford player soaking up those valuable minutes alongside Ja Morant and co.

However, Dillon Brooks has returned to action after missing two months with a ankle injury he suffered in early January. That means Head Coach Taylor Jenkins is having to adjust Williams’ role with the team.

Williams is no longer a starter playing 25 minutes per game. He’s been moved to the bench and Brooks has started in both the OKC game March 13 and the game at Indiana March 15.

It’s a small sample size (just two games so far), but Jenkins has played around 18 or 19 minutes in those two games. Williams is still producing very nicely, despite seeing his minutes reduced, which is great news.

He’s scored 11 points in both games he’s come off the bench. It’s not easy for a rookie to have his role disrupted mid-season and transition so seamlessly.

Look for Williams to continue feeling out his new role coming off the bench, in which he may have some better opportunities to be a scorer, evident by his above-average scoring in the first two contests in his new role.

The Grizzlies have just 12 regular season games remaining before the playoffs begin.

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