Why am I talking about Oregon Ducks basketball during the beginning of June, two Palabras, and the emergence of Dillon Brooks?
The former UO standout really found himself this year and proved a pivotal piece of the Memphis Grizzlies’ surprising run into the playoffs. While Ja Morant is obviously the star, Brooks is probably the team’s best perimeter defender and adds a splash of scoring to the mix as well.
Ok, maybe more than a splash; he finished the regular season averaging 17.2 PPG, 2.9 REB, and 2.3 AST. What’s even more impressive is that he upped his scoring numbers in the playoffs to 25.8 PPG (Not including play-in games). This is an astronomical leap considering they were playing against the third-best defense in points allowed per game in the Utah Jazz.
But the thing I really like about him is his old-school dog mentality. In the modern age of NBA basketball, players often grow up around one another in the AAU scene. This leads to friendships and soft basketball. I don’t know if he got the memo.
He is a hard-nosed, knock you down, and talk-ish type of player, and it’s phenomenal to see. In my opinion, this is what the NBA has been missing for quite some time.
And it’s exactly what the Grizzlies needed in a season where their supposed 2nd best player Jaren Jackson Jr. missed a significant amount of action.
Brooks has proven a termite in defending many of the league’s best guards. He flustered Damian Lillard in a regular-season matchup holding him to 8-27 from the field earlier this year. But what’s even more impressive is that Brooks appeared to agitate Lillard, who is normally calm, cool, and collected as they come.
In another regular season contest, he personally held Stephen Curry to 2-10 from the field. It’s fair to note that Steph did have a terrific scoring game, putting up numbers against the other Memphis defenders. But against Brooks, he only shot 20 percent.
Simply put, “DB is the defensive energy guy that every great team has.”
He reminds me of an old-school player by the name of Mark Aguirre. Aguirre is an often forgotten player who was an invaluable piece of the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons championship teams. He is a two-time champion, a three-time all-star, and the No. 1 pick of the 1981 NBA draft.
And while Brooks wasn’t as highly touted as Aguirre coming out of college, DB was selected 45th overall by the Houston Rockets.
His impact could prove similar on the court. Both players have fearsome mid-range games, strong physical frames, and the ability to guard the opposing team’s best scorer on a nightly basis. They both also struggle from three-point land, with Aguirre averaging 31.2 percent and Brooks at 35.3 for their respective careers.
And while many NBA fans may have no idea who Aguirre is. Real hoopers do.
Pistons teammate Isiah Thomas once said, “We never would’ve won a championship if Mark Aguirre doesn’t come to our team.”
And this is the exact type of impact Brooks can have if he lands in the right situation.
His swagger, heart, and grind mode mentality will land him a spot on any NBA roster, and if he continues to improve his shooting, he could blossom into a superstar in the upcoming years.
His style is iconic with Grizzlies basketball, and it’s really cool to see a Duck make a name for himself at the highest level.
“He displays a mentality that he is not afraid of anybody.”
But they should probably fear him.