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What’s next for the Grizzlies Two-Way Guys?

Vince Williams started the season on a two-way and Jacob Gilyard ended the season on a two-way.
By Parish Sharkey - May 24, 2023, 7:44 am - 0 comments

The Memphis Grizzlies have been relatively successful with utilizing their two-way contracts with their G-League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, in the GrzNxtGen era. John Konchar is the most notable success story as a former undrafted player that has transitioned from an undrafted player to a two-way contract to a roster spot to a 10-man rotation spot with the Grizzlies in three seasons.

The development continued this season as the Grizzlies drafted four players in the 2022 NBA Draft and signed undrafted free agent forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. to a two-way contract to carry five rookies on the roster into the season. After drafting guard/forward Vince Williams Jr. with the 47th overall pick of the 2nd round, the Grizzlies signed him to a two-way contract on July 2, 2022.

Kenneth Lofton Jr. went on to win the G-League Rookie of the Year award and earned a contract conversion to the Memphis Grizzlies on April 8, 2022. Furthermore, Memphis Hustle starting point guard, Jacob Gilyard, was promoted to a two-way contract on April 8th. Can Vince Williams Jr. or Jacob Gilyard become the next John Konchar or Kenneth Lofton Jr.?

Vince Williams Jr.

Vince Williams Jr. was the last of four Grizzlies draft picks last summer and was drafted as a developmental 3-point shooting threat out of VCU. He shot 41.3% from three on four attempts per game in his Junior season and 38.7% from three on 5.6 attempts per game in his Senior season at VCU. However, he did not display that ability coming out of the gate as a pro.

In his five games played in the 2022 NBA Summer League in both Salt Lake City, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada, he shot 25% from three on 2.4 attempts per game in a little under 20 minutes per game. Therefore, it was obvious immediately that he would be a raw prospect as he provided little else in other areas of his game. Since it was such a limited sample size of games played, especially for a shooter, hope remained that he could show something when the Memphis Hustle season began.

To kick off his rookie season with the Memphis Hustle, Vince Williams Jr.’s struggles continued from three as he shot just 20.9% on six attempts per game in seven games played during the G Leagues’ Showcase Cup. However, he did produce in other areas of his game. He averaged 15.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game to help the Hustle end the Showcase Cup with an 11-7 record.

Once the G League’s regular season came around, Williams showed more of his three-point prowess that the Memphis Grizzlies thought they were getting when drafting him. In eight regular season games played with the Memphis Hustle, Vince Williams Jr. shot 45.7% from three on 4.4 attempts per game and averaged 17.9 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game on 65.3% shooting overall.

Due to his time as a two-way call-up to the Memphis Grizzlies and a shoulder injury he suffered in early March, Vince Williams Jr. was only able to play in 15 of a possible 51 games (Showcase Cup, Regular Season, and Playoffs) for the Memphis Hustle. The 15 games he played for the Memphis Hustle matched the number of games he played with the Memphis Grizzlies.

His time with the Grizzlies was mostly garbage time minutes as he only played double-digit minutes once in an early December game against the Miami Heat before he played the entire 48 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the last game of the season. He shot 1-14 from three in that game against the Thunder after shooting just 3-13 in the previous 14 games played for the Grizzlies to finish the season shooting 4-27 from three for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Considering the Grizzlies drafted Vince Williams Jr. to add shooting, his rookie season was inconsistent. The success he found with the Memphis Hustle during the regular season portion of their schedule is the player that the Grizzlies hope to develop. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) increasing the two-way contracts from two to three players per team, expect Vince Williams Jr. to at least get another opportunity with the Grizzlies Summer League team before evaluating the potential of his return to the team on a two-way contract for the 2023-24 season.

Jacob Gilyard

Jacob Gilyard spent his entire rookie season with the Memphis Hustle after signing with the Memphis Grizzlies training camp roster on September 23, 2022, and playing one preseason game for the team. He spent the 2022 Summer League playing for the Golden State Warriors in the California Summer League and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Las Vegas Summer League.

After starting in 13 of the Memphis Hustle’s 18 Showcase Cup games averaging 9.1 points, 7.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game, Jacob Gilyard proceeded to lead the G League in total assists (299) and assists per game (9.7) to help lead the Hustle to their best record in franchise history (23-9) in the Regular Season. He ended his rookie season with the Hustle with 16 points, 10 assists, and 2 steals in their lone playoff game. That game resulted in a loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to end the Hustle’s season.

Jacob Gilyard was rewarded with a two-way contract at the end of the Memphis Grizzlies season after some roster reshuffling due to injuries. Gilyard only played one game for the Grizzlies, the final game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, finishing with 3 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals in 41 minutes played. Jacob Gilyard’s role with the team going forward is uncertain, but with his impressive showing with the Memphis Hustle, expect him to return and have an opportunity to compete for another two-way contract with the increase in two-way contracts next season and the potential lack of point guards on the Memphis Grizzlies roster to start the 2023-2024 campaign.


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