Memphis Grizzlies: The Canadian Nucleus

The Memphis Grizzlies are one of many NBA teams benefiting from Canadian players. Last year, the Grizzlies also benefited from drafting Ja Morant. They and Jonas Valanciunas played a big role in the success of the Grizzlies in their last NBA season which almost resulted in an NBA playoff spot.

The Canadian Influence on the Memphis Grizzlies

Dillon Brooks

Dillon Brooks made a big jump in the 2019-20 NBA season. In that season, he averaged 16.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, all career highs. He also had a career-high in free throw percentage, which was 80.8 percent. According to grizzlybearblues.com, Brooks struggled in his sophomore 2018-19 NBA season with the Memphis Grizzlies. This included an injury where he missed 64 games in the 2018-19 NBA season.

However, he has blossomed in the 2019-20 NBA season with an improved Grizzlies team. He has scored 20-29 points 22 times and had 30-39 points four times in the 2019-20 NBA season. This included having 31 points, two rebounds, two assists, and one block in a win against the Milwaukee Bucks. This win set up the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers play-in matchup for the eighth and final NBA Western Conference playoff spot. A game in which the Grizzlies lost.

This is what Taylor Jenkins said according to Anthony Smith of Sports Illustrated back in November:

“That spirit I talk about just kind of builds your confidence up, your energy up and then obviously he had a heck of a night tonight,” said Jenkins.  “I’m proud of his teammates finding him in the right spots and him being aggressive but also playing within the offense to get those shot attempts as a beneficiary of playing a pretty efficient game on both ends of the floor.”

Brooks is only 24 years old and should continue to improve when he reaches closer to his peak. Brooks, the Canadian born in Mississauga is now one of the Memphis Grizzlies’ best players and is an important player on their roster.

Brandon Clarke

Yes, Brandon Clarke was brought up in Phoenix, Arizona. However, he was born in Vancouver, British Columbia to a Canadian mother. Therefore, Clarke is eligible to play for the Canadian Men’s Basketball Team. Clarke was drafted 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 NBA draft. However, he was traded to the Grizzlies for Darius Bazley and a future second-round draft pick according to NBA.com.

Clarke averaged 12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. This included scoring 20-29 points four times. One of his most notable games was a win against the Trail Blazers on February 12. In this game, he had 27 points, six rebounds, one assist and block, and two steals. He was the best Canadian rookie of the 2019-20 NBA season, getting more votes than even New York KnicksRJ Barrett.

The hype towards Morant is justified. However, Clarke should not be overlooked. He also set a record for a rookie that has not been done for decades.

He is considered by many as the steal of the 2019 NBA Draft. Clarke is one of many players who established himself with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Overview of the Canadian Nucleus with the Memphis Grizzlies

The two young Canadian players will shape the Grizzlies’ future along with Morant. Expect Brooks to continue to improve and possibly be an NBA All-Star in the next few years. Lastly, expect Clarke to continue to improve and find his way to the starting rotation next year.

The success and future of the Memphis Grizzlies will depend on the development of their young players. They are a young team, which will only improve in the future. Expect them to make the NBA playoffs soon.

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