Should the New Orleans Pelicans pursue Dillon Brooks?

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

NBA Free Agency is quickly approaching, and for the New Orleans Pelicans, this go around will be all about bolstering their team around their nucleus of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and Trey Murphy III.

One potential avenue for doing this could be soon-to-be former Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks. After a rough performance in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers, it was reported that under no circumstances would be rejoining the team next season.

With this in mind, is Brooks someone the Pelicans should think about pursuing?

For the sake of simplicity, we will leave the potential cap ramifications of this pursuit out of our analysis and look at this from a strictly on-court angle.

(Sidebar: While we are keeping cap considerations out of this, it is likely that New Orleans would be able to fit his salary into their books, as his value has diminished greatly since his poor playoff showing and subsequent falling out with the Grizzlies). 

Anyway, on paper, Brooks projects as a “3-and-D” forward who can hit open threes (he shot 37.2% on wide-open catch-and-shoot threes in the regular season, per and guard multiple positions effectively. He also has a reasonably developed off-the-dribble game, as 64.6% of his shot attempts this season came after he took one or more dribbles (per

His specialty as a defender is at the point-of-attack, where he has made a name for himself by pestering ball handlers and forcing them into suboptimal looks.

So, should New Orleans try and sign him?

As of right now, I’m going to say no. Brooks is a great player to have on defensively-slanted teams that are devoid of on-ball creation. That is why he was perfect for the Grizzlies before Desmond Bane developed into a reliable second option on offense.

Before that, Brooks could provide his usual tenacious defense while also taking some of the creation burden off of Ja Morant’s shoulders. However, now that Bane has developed into the player he is, Brooks’ self-creation repetitions are more harmful than beneficial, as he is taking touches from the more effective Bane. Last season, Brooks had a True Shooting of 49.4% (-8.7 worse than the league average), while Bane’s was at 60.6% (+2.5 better than the league average).

The same phenomenon would likely play out with New Orleans. He’s a solid spacer but not a good enough one to cure the Pelicans’ well-documented shooting woes (29th in 3-point attempts last season). He’s a great defender, but his skills are redundant on a team with guys like Herbert Jones, Naji Marshall, and Dyson Daniels. And while he’s a serviceable on-ball creator on poor offenses, you don’t want him taking touches from more gifted creators like Williamson, Ingram, and McCollum.

So no, I would not pursue Brooks in free agency if I were the Pelicans. Although, I think a team with a good defense and poor offense definitely should.

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