Dillon Brooks is an intriguing player, to say the least. He is technically a role player in Grizzlies’ system, but he averages the most shot attempts among the team. Memphis desperately needs his shooting output, especially after trading Jae Crowder, but many fans advocate for the idea of replacing him with a more efficient scorer.
The 2020 3-point champion Buddy Hield has been in the trade talk for a while, after voicing his frustration publicly multiple times, the 27-year-old signed a 4 year, $94 million extension that keeps him in Sacramento. We’ll assess the value in both players and determine whether a trade is beneficial for the Grizzlies.
Dillon Brooks ended the Grizzlies’ perpetual drought of a decent wing shooter this season, averaging 15.7 points per game. But his contribution is inconsistent.
There are only 2 types of a Dillon Brooks game, 9-17, 22 points, and 1-8, 5 points. In January, Brooks averaged more than 20 points and shot 45% from beyond the arc, leading the Grizzlies to 11-4 in the period. Memphis was considered a lottery team before the season, but after January, a playoff race is realistic.
What is frequently criticized, though, are his shot selection and percentages. Dillon Brooks is very streaky; his spectacular performance in January is followed by an abrupt cold streak in February. His shooting largely depends on volume, his attempts are proportional to his points, out of 65 games this season, he only shot above 60% in 2 of them.
His inconsistency is directly reflected on the team’s overall performance. In the 22 games that Brooks had more than 20 points, Memphis won 19 of them. In the games that he scores lower than 10 points, however, the Grizzlies have a 4-15 record.
Brooks’ game is more than long-range shots, as he is a fearless finisher around the rim, and he never fails to gain advantage through his size and quickness on the defensive end. Standing at 6’7’’, his toughness and eagerness to score poses a tangible threat to any matchup.
Buddy Hield is a bonafide sniper. He averages 3.8 threes and 19.8 points per game this season through constant role change. He’s deft and accurate and his underrated handles help him create space off dribbling. His release is quick, he’s trustable when shooting open 3s, and has no scruples pulling up from logo once in a while.
The Bahamas native occasionally takes over the game. Hield has 2 games in which he scored more than 40 this season, and he only has 5 games under 10 points.
Hield is less aggressive driving to the basket and lacks offensive versatility compared to Dillon Brooks, but his pace is adequate for getting layups in fast-break situations.
When we compare these 2 players, Buddy Hield is no doubt the better player now, and he’s compatible with Jenkins’ systems and would be a terrific complement to Ja Morant, Justice Winslow, Jaren Jackson, and Jonas Valanciunas.
But the paramount goal of the Grizzlies right now is preparing for the future. Memphis now holds the 8th seed in the west, but their chance is scarce in a 4-game-series against any contending teams. Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke are only in their rookie year and Jaren Jackson Jr. is 20 years old.
The 24-year-old Dillon Brooks fits the timeline of this young core, and once he starts making better choices and makes progress in his craft, he may just elevate his game to another level.
Buddy Hield, on the other hand, is 27 years old. By the time his contract ends he’ll be 31, and the Grizzlies core would be barely in their prime.
Trading for Buddy Hield would put him in a similarly awkward position like Valanciunas’ current position on the team. Yes, he can contribute greatly as a center, but his future is vague and no one can tell just yet how much JV has left in the tank by the time Morant and Jackson develop into superstars (hopefully).
The contract situation is another issue. As I mentioned, Buddy Hield just signed his extension in October that runs through the 2023-24 season. He’ll make $20 million in the 2022-23 season and $18 million the next season after that. By that time, the Grizzlies would have had to take care of Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Jonas Valanciunas.
Unless the front office decides to not retain one of those players or if someone takes a cut for the team, Hield’s contract will be very problematic by then. Dillon’s 3 years, $35M contract is much better financially.
We also have to consider the cost of the trade, the Kings will unlikely settle for a 1 for 1 trade, Memphis will have to give up more than Dillon Brooks, a pick may be involved or another role player may need to be thrown into the transaction.
So in conclusion, trading for Buddy Hield can improve Grizzlies’ firepower for now and the age issue, contract, and cost of the trade will neutralize the benefit the trade brings to Memphis. The trade may be facile in terms of building long-term success for the Grizzlies. Instead, Grizzlies fans should look forward to the improvement of Dillon Brooks through the years, as his prime is yet to come.
The front office can look for shooters in free agency that can join Brandon Clarke, Tyus Jones, and De’anthony melton as a bench mob. Joe Harris, Kent Bazemore, and Jordan Clarkson are all available this summer.
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