Recapping the Memphis Hustle’s inaugural weekend

Similar to Ross Jarrar’s Week-Side Help, Grizzly Bear Blues will also be doing weekly recaps for the Grizzlies G-League Affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. Hustle games are broadcast on Facebook Live on the official Memphis Hustle Facebook Page. If you scroll down enough, you can go back and watch entire games, but make sure to check in every Thursday to GBB to get our take on the past week for the Hustle and a preview for the week to come!

NBA: Summer League-Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 Results

Sioux Falls SkyForce 120 @ Memphis Hustle 116 (0-1)

Salt Lake City Stars 99 @ Memphis Hustle 102 (1-1)

Week 1 Storylines

  • Inaugural weekend in Southaven for the Hustle
  • Ben McLemore makes his Memphis debut
  • Austin Nichols sits out with injury
  • Grizzlies two-way players put on a show

Game 1 Breakdown

Key Stats:

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Hustle dropped a back and forth game against the SkyForce of Sioux Falls in their franchise opener in a 120-116 high scoring affair. The Hustle jumped out to an early 18 point lead, but a 41 point 3rd quarter from the SkyForce would give them the lead they ultimately would hold on to. It was an exciting first game for the Hustle despite the loss. They had 4 players score in double figures, with Ivan Rabb dropping the first double-double in Hustle history and Marquis Teague close to notching the Hustle’s first triple double. The defense obviously fell apart in that 41 point 3rd quarter, but overall the Hustle played a solid first game together.

Game 2 Breakdown

Key Stats

  • Trahson Burrell- 20 points, 14 rebounds
  • Ivan Rabb- 16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks
  • Marquis Teague- 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
  • Kobi Simmons- 13 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Vince Hunter- 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks
  • Omari Johnson– 12 points, 5 rebounds
  • Ben McLemore- 8 points, 2 rebounds
NCAA Basketball: East Carolina at Memphis
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It was a much more balanced effort by the Hustle in their first win in franchise history, lead by former Memphis Tiger Trahson Burrell. Having 6 players score in double figures with 3 double-doubles is the type of balance Coach Cyprien would love to see out of his club on a nightly basis. Ben McLemore looked like a guy playing for the first time since foot surgery. He looked a little slow but did drain two 3-pointers in his 16 minutes. He will be at a 16 minute restriction for the time being for the Hustle.

Ivan Rabb impressed again with both his scoring and rebounding, as well as two-way player Vince Hunter. Teague and Simmons did a good job steadying the ship and keeping the team together after falling down by 13 points late in the 1st quarter. After a disappointing first game of the season, Burrell erupted in the second game and lead the charge for the Hustle comeback.

MVP of the Week – Ivan Rabb

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ivan Rabb, who was criticized greatly by Grizzlies fans when selected by Memphis with the 35th pick in this summers NBA Draft, has been a monster to start the season for the Hustle. Averaging 18 points and nearly 14 rebounds a game, Rabb has shown the offensive skills to potentially be a legitimate player in the league. Rabb is skilled at finishing around the rim and can use both his right and left hand. Rabb has also shown flashes of being a solid defender as well. His 5 blocks make him a solid rim protector for the Hustle.

His most noticeable area for growth is in his size & strength. He got bullied a little bit down low on both offense and defense this past week. Rabb needs to take this year to get bigger and stronger if he wants to contribute at the NBA level. His finesse skills will allow him to produce at a high level for the Hustle and he’ll be even better once he adds some weight.

Numbers to Know

25%: The Hustle are currently shooting 25% (13-52) from beyond the 3 point line, proving Memphis simply isn’t allowed to have a good 3 point shooting team. The Hustle don’t have great 3 point shooters on the team, but the early season struggles of Jeremy Morgan and Dusty Hannahs need to improve in order for the Hustle to have continued success. Considering both players are widely known for their shooting, they’ll need to improve if they want to play extended minutes for this team.

21 & 8: The Hustle turned the ball over 21 times in their loss to the SkyForce while only turning the ball over 8 times in their win over the Stars. It’s easy to look at the 21 turnovers as a key factor in the Hustle’s loss. The SkyForce scored 28 points off Hustle turnovers and that’s brutal in any game, especially close ones. The Hustle did a much better job taking care of the ball in their win over the Stars and the lowly 8 turnovers likely played a huge role in sealing the win.

52.5: The Hustle are ranked second in the G-League averaging 52.5 rebounds per game, with 16 a game coming on the offensive glass which is the highest average in the league. The Hustle’s ability to rebound the ball will be critical to their success. The offensive rebounds will allow them easy buckets while the defensive rebounds will ensure that opposing teams only get one shot per possession.

Week 1 Grade- B+

Take away that 41 point 3rd quarter from the SkyForce and the Hustle likely earn an A in this weeks grade. They showed they can be an great offensive team when they went on a 26-6 run in the opening game and their defense was big down the stretch in the win on Sunday. Although their 3 point shooting is disappointing, the Hustle do so many of the small things well that will likely keep them competitive throughout most of this season. Coach Cyprien did a good job of spreading out minutes and playing the right guys at the right times. Overall the Hustle have to consider their opening weekend a success.

Week 2 Preview

NBA: Preseason-Memphis Grizzlies at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Rio Grande Valley Vipers (0-3) @ Memphis Hustle 11/10 7 PM

Memphis Hustle @ Canton Charge (0-1) 11/15 6 PM

The Hustle will likely be without Ben McLemore as Grind City Media’s Michael Wallace tweeted that McLemore may be making his Grizzlies debut Saturday @ Houston. Fortunately for the Hustle, Jon Roser broke news last night that guard Wayne Selden and center Deyonta Davis will play tomorrow night against the Vipers. Selden will be playing rehabbing from a groin injury, similar to the one-game stint McLemore spent with the Hustle. Davis is playing with the Hustle so he can get some game experience instead of sitting on the Grizzlies sideline. Having both NBA-quality players will benefit the Hustle players both on and off the court.

The Hustle will play their 3rd straight home game tomorrow night against defending Western Conference Champion the Vipers. The Vipers (Rockets G-League affiliate) are lead by former Grizzlies Troy Williams, Tony Wroten, and Briante Weber. The Vipers will obviously be a tough matchup for the Hustle, especially considering the previously mentioned players will likely be playing with a chip on their shoulder. The Vipers mimic the Rockets with their great offense and horrible defense, having given up more than 110 points a game this season. If the Hustle defense can contain the Viper offense, their offense will likely be able to put up enough points to steal a win.

The Hustle then head North to Canton, Ohio to play the Charge who are lead by Kendrick Perkins (!!!). It will be interesting to see how the team plays in their first road game of the season, but since it’s only a one game trip I don’t expect much of a drop off in play. The Charge gave up 123 points in their season opening loss so offense will be the defining factor next Wednesday. If the Hustle can put up points in a hurry they should be able to run away from the offensive deficient Charge who are lead in scoring by Perkins.

With the help of Selden and Davis plus the anticipated debut of Austin Nichols, the Hustle have a good chance to get their offense going and at least split the two games over the next week.

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