The Tennessee transfer didn’t put together the season he probably hoped and will look forward to a hopefully better 2019-20 season.
Entering this season, Shembari Phillips was expected to help step into the Jackets lineup and potentially help alleviate the offseason departures including that of Josh Okogie. After all, the Atlanta native proved to be a quality offensive player during his time in Knoxville and was going to benefit from more playing time with the Jackets.
In the end, Phillips ended up playing in career highs in games and minutes played. Overall, Phillips played in 20 games for the Yellow Jackets this past season and only averaged 11.1 minutes per game when on the court. Over 9 minutes less than his average from a season ago with Tennessee.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.
For the season, Phillips averaged 2.1 points per game for the Jackets, a career low for the transfer. He never really got in an offensive groove it seemed through his 20 games, with a shooting slash of .326/.182/.778. Both his field goal percentage and three-point percentage were also career lows for him while his free throw percentage was to par for his career. Phillips offensive rating for the season was amongst the lowest on the Jackets for the season at just 73.5 , a 27-point drop from his offensive rating a season ago in Knoxville.
At this point, it’s easy to see that Phillips just didn’t have the offensive firepower that was expected out of him this season. Perhaps he will be bounce back next season for the Jackets and in reality, part of his struggles just may have been from a lack of consistency of time on the court.
While Philliips struggled on offense, his defensive play for the season was about what was expected. A defensive rating of 101.8 was the best of his career and he tied a career high in steal percentage at 1.6%. He also had a block percentage of 1.5%, a new career high. His defensive box plus-minus for the season was a solid 1.3.
If Phillips could take another step forward defensively for the Yellow Jackets heading into next season, it will at least let the former Volunteer be a key, defensive player and strong contributor if he’s struggling offensively.
Overall, it’s hard to say it wasn’t a bit of a disappointing season for Phillips but perhaps it’s a season that he could use to grow. For the Atlanta native, the talent is there but he needs more consistency with his time on the court to make the impact he’s capable of making. He may not be a huge impact player for the Jackets in 2019-20 but he very well could be a top bench option or even a part-time starter if all goes well this offseason and heading into next season.