Dillon Brooks believes the Memphis Grizzlies' time as the team to beat in the NBA's Western Conference is coming.
After getting eliminated in the second round of the playoffs after a 110-96 loss in Game 6 to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, the Grizzlies wing said the following, per ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz: "We're young, and they're getting old. They know that we are going to come every single year."
Memphis took a huge leap forward this season as the No. 2 seed in the West with a 56-26 record, but it was the experienced and battle-tested Warriors who advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
While Warriors superstar Stephen Curry gave the Grizzlies props after closing them out Friday, he also had some fun with Brooks' comments, telling Sam Amick of The Athletic: "He's said a lot of crazy things. He called himself a dynasty already, so you've got to figure. On to the next round. Western Conference Finals, we're back. Let's goooo!"
The Grizzlies split the first two games of the series with Golden State, but the complexion of the series changed when it was announced after Game 3 that Memphis' superstar point guard Ja Morant was doubtful to return for the rest of the playoffs with a bone bruise to his knee.
Despite that, the Grizzlies battled and nearly pulled off the upset in Game 4 before falling 101-98 and getting pushed to the brink of elimination.
Memphis showed great resolve in Game 5, however, leading by as much as 55 and winning by 39 to stave off elimination and force a Game 6.
Friday's Game 6 was nip and tuck into the fourth quarter, but with veteran sharpshooters Curry and Klay Thompson knocking down big shots for the Warriors, the Grizzlies fell just short.
Brooks expressed his belief that things may have been different if Morant hadn't gotten injured, saying: "A hundred percent. Ja is one of the best point guards in this league—you guys know that—obviously it would change, but we made do with what we had."
The 22-year-old Morant reached superstar status this season and established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate by averaging 27.4 points, 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 three-pointers made and 1.2 steals per game during the regular season, while also shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Memphis also had five other players average double figures in scoring this season in Brooks, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., De'Anthony Melton and Brandon Clarke.
Nobody on the Grizzlies' roster is over 28 years of age, and most of the key players are 25 or younger, which may foreshadow a bright future with plenty of postseason success.
Meanwhile, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green are all over 30, which is why there may have been a sense of urgency for them to make a deep run this season.
Brooks suggested that the way things ended for the Grizzlies this season could be a catalyst for future years, saying: "This is good motivation, good learning, playing against two of the best shooters in history. Going against them was an amazing feeling. It's big for us, and we're going to take this throughout the summer and be ready to do it again."
The Warriors' championship window may not be open for much longer, plus there is no telling how much longer point guard Chris Paul will play, as his retirement would perhaps push the top-seeded Phoenix Suns down in the pecking order.
No team in the NBA appears better equipped to win big over the long term than the Grizzlies, and Brooks' comments suggest he and his teammates are well aware of that.