Memphis Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks is currently enjoying the best year of his professional career, averaging 15.6 points per game thus far. Brooks, who was selected in the second round of the 2017 NBA draft, recently signed a three-year, $35 million deal to remain with the Grizzlies.
HoopsHype spoke to him about some of his takeaways on the season.
You were a lead cheerleader on the floor against the Brooklyn Nets. Can you walk me through some of the moves that you were doing out there to support your teammates?
Dillon Brooks: Yeah yeah yeah! After every three-pointer, I put the firework in the ground and then light it and then let it fly up there and it goes like “pew!” every time. I’ll sometimes plant multiple fireworks in the ground so it can fly up. But we have fun on the bench. As a group, we all love each other and we all want the best for each other. We have a super friendship. That’s why you see it all come together on the court, which is amazing. I love these guys and I love playing with them. It is why I signed so early. I want to be a part of this and be a part of the surge of the next-gen. I just love playing with these guys.
How much do you think the chemistry on this team has played on your winning?
DB: It’s great. We’re learning really fast. The only way you learn winning fast is if you do it at 100 percent. Guys are going 100 percent and feeding off each other. Once we put one guy in, they fit right in and they learn the culture that we are building. It’s a tribute to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. and those guys that bring it every single night. The guys follow suit and while we’re here we lead by example. We’ve got a couple of vets here that talk about their experiences in the league and that’s always good for the young guys. But we have fun out there. We play our game and also know each other’s games to a T.
Before the game, coach Jenkins told me that you were one of the most competitive guys he has met. I know you have a ton of confidence. With that in mind, how much would a playoff run mean to you?
DB: It would mean so much. I feel like teams don’t want to see us. We’re like that wildcard team. We feel like we’re underdogs this year. We’re playing free and we’re playing fast. We’re playing defense and we want to learn this stuff organically. We’ve got guys that work the same way as me. Our young guys work the same way. They want to feed off that. It’s a tribute to coming out every single day in practice and shooting and treatment and weights. We do it one hundred percent, which we always talk about.
How would you personally describe your competitive nature?
DB: It can get over the top. When I came out of college, I never thought I was going to be playing defense the way I’m playing now. But that’s what my first coach told me. You’re only going to get on the floor if you can play defense so I raised my level and tried to make myself competitive on the defensive end. I knew my offense would come. I’m a scorer. So I want to lock you up and then come back and give you a bucket and then talk a little bit and do the same thing and keep the motor every time so my team can see that and raise their levels as well.
Do you think your team plays with a bit of a chip on your shoulder? For example, you and Ja were both very vocal about someone on the roster who decided not to report to the team. Do you channel that energy into your competitiveness?
DB: Yeah, of course. Our teammates ride with us. That’s the beauty of this. We always have each other’s backs. That’s why the Golden State Warriors were so great. That’s why the Cleveland Cavaliers were so great. They all had friendships off the court, too. When you care about somebody like that, you are going to try to do the most for them. I think that is what we have here and I think that is what we had in my college days, too. But it was different when I got here in my first year. This culture is changing and we have chemistry and guys love playing with each other. Meeting with the coaching staff and the front office and talking the game, it’s always a great thing to have that type of love and emotion in the locker room.
Assuming everything goes as expected, do you still plan to participate with Team Canada in the Olympics?
DB: Yeah, absolutely. We are going to make a run. Hopefully, we can beat that virus so we can get over there and play. But I want to make history. I know we have a lot of guys in the league right now like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal Murray and Tristan Thompson and Kelly Olynyk. We all want to make history. We think we could go the whole way. We’ve got guys in this league right now that are stars.
What do you think are the biggest ways that you have improved since your time in college on the Oregon Ducks?
DB: I’ve improved my dribbling. I’ve improved learning the NBA game and watching the best players in this league, trying to replicate that and practice it the way they do. Each time I get a new coach, I try to figure out how I can fit myself into their system and that is the hardest thing because each coach has a different scheme and other different things they do. You have to think on the fly and keep your confidence up regardless of what is happening. I also try to learn from each player that comes through here. We’ve had a lot come through here. I try to learn from all the great players in this league.
Staying on the topic of Oregon, their men’s basketball team has been playing well once again this year. What do you think of their shots at making a run in March Madness?
DB: I feel like they always have a shot. There is always a point and time in a year for a team coached by Dana Altman where his coaching gets amazing and guys follow suit and they always go on a run. I always support Oregon and Dana, who did so much for me as a basketball player and as a man. He taught me a lot. He taught everyone in that locker room. There is one thing he said: you’re never going to forget these memories, who you played with and what you guys did. These memories are helped by winning and doing those things. So he pushed us to win because that helps bring you to the NBA. He believed in me and that’s why I’m in this position right now.
Speaking of which, you’ve had the chance to play with former Oregon star players Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey now in the NCAA. What is it like being able to play with your old college teammates at the next level and see those dreams come true?
DB: It was great being with them. We understood that our time together wasn’t over. Tyler went overseas and Jordan, when he was waived last month, I told him that I’ve always got him. Those guys are my brothers. We always meet up in the summer. We always hang out. Jordan was always coming to my house when he was on the team and so was Tyler. I always look out for those guys, they are my dogs. Same with Chris Boucher. He is playing so well right now on the Raptors. I love watching my guys play and succeed and watching them go through life, go through different adversities. How are they going to respond?
Is that why you still rep those Oregon shoes that you wore during the game today or is that just because of the fashion associated with them?
DB: Both. They send me a lot of shoes. But I’m bringing out my own. I always rep Oregon. These were Hyperdunks from 2017. They were custom for me, not even player edition sneakers. They were made for me because I hurt my foot. I have four or five pairs in different colors.
Before we go, I would love if you could just walk me through this outfit that you are wearing tonight.
DB: The pants are some old AMIRI. I’ve got Dior on my feet. I just bought the top, it’s from Off-White. I like putting stuff together. I like the color contrasting. I like making myself look good and feel confident with the drip. It’s light work. It’s comfortable, too.
What about the glasses? I know you wear those indoors a lot, too, which is definitely a look.
DB: Always, man. Ever since my rookie year – actually, even when I was in college – I’ve done that. I always wear glasses indoors. You see things with a different shade. These are made by Louis Vuitton.