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The Hustle Report: Recapping week three of the Memphis Hustle’s inaugural season

Kobi Simmons carries the team in Ivan Rabb’s absence

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

Week 3 Results

Iowa Wolves 80 @ Memphis Hustle 88 (3-2)

Memphis Hustle (3-3) 124 @ Rio Grande Valley Vipers 138

Week 3 Storylines

  • Ivan Rabb out with injury
  • Deyonta Davis flashes potential
  • Grizzlies injuries hurt the Hustle

Game 5 Breakdown

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

Key Stats

  • Deyonta Davis- 17 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals
  • Marquis Teague- 14 points, 5 assists
  • Omari Johnson- 9 points, 5 rebounds
  • Jarell Martin- 9 points, 8 rebounds

For only the second time this season, the Hustle held their opponent under 100 points. The 88-80 victory over the Iowa Wolves was an anomaly when looking at the high scoring games the Hustle have been playing lately. The Hustle did a great job playing their first game without Ivan Rabb, who was called up to be with the Grizzlies to be placed in the concussion protocol.

It was a statement game from Deyonta Davis, who for the greater part of his NBA/G-League career has seemed disinterested in the game. He’s always been solid at cleaning up missed shots on the offensive end with putbacks, but it was good to see him aggressive on the boards hauling in 10 rebounds for the double-double. With Brandan Wright out for the foreseeable future with the Grizz, it was good for Deyonta to gain some confidence last Friday going into this stretch where he will play more. It was also a good game for Marquis Teague, who had been quiet after the first weekend.

All in all it was a solid victory for the Hustle, who were benefitting from the Wolves not having Amile Jefferson or Elijah Millsaps. The Hustle did allow Anthony Brown to go off for 32 points but did a good job holding everyone else in check to seal the victory.

Game 6 Breakdown

2014 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Basketball Tournament Memphis v Indiana State Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Kobi Simmons- 31 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Austin Nichols- 15 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals
  • Durand Scott- 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Jordon Crawford- 13 points, 4 assists
  • Omari Johnson- 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

The Hustle dropped another high scoring game against the Vipers in large part due to the Vipers dropping 76 second half points. The Hustle did a solid job keeping the game competitive without three players who average double figures a game (Ivan Rabb, Vince Hunter & Trahson Burrell). Kobi Simmons lead the way with 31 points, shooting 6-11 from beyond the arc while Austin Nichols took care of business down low with his first double-double of the season.

The Hustle got solid contributions from multiple other players, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to overcome the production of former Grizz Troy Williams and his Viper teammates. It was a close game through the first half, but a hot streak from 3 in the 3rd quarter by the Vipers, accompanied by a cold shooting streak from the Hustle, gave the Vipers a 10 point lead they would never vanquish.

Despite the loss the Hustle have a few positives to take away from the game. Without 3 of their better players they kept the game close against one of the better G-League teams, they didn’t give up when they easily could have when the Vipers pushed the lead to 18, and they did a better job of shutting down Briante Weber and RJ Hunter who 17 combined points Tuesday compared to 54 last game.

MVP of the Week- Kobi Simmons

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

With Ivan Rabb out dealing with a concussion, we finally have a new face as our MVP of the Week and the honor goes to Kobi Simmons. His game against the Wolves wasn’t extraordinary but solid. However, his huge game against the Vipers was impossible to ignore considering how well he lead the team in the absence of previously mentioned players. Kobi has been a steady hand for the Hustle this season shooting the ball efficiently and getting everyone involved. If Kobi has a few more games like he did against the Vipers, he might find himself getting called up the Grizzlies while PG minutes are available with Mike Conley out.

Numbers to Know

9.2: The Hustle currently lead the G-League in blocks per game averaging nearly 10 per contest. Even with the absence of Ivan Rabb this week, the Hustle blocked a total of 19 shots in their two games. As great as the blocks are, the length of Ivan Rabb and Austin Nichols among others forces their opponents into difficult layup attempts.

43%: The Hustle shot 43% from beyond the arc this week, which is much better than the 25% they shot opening weekend. Like the Grizzlies, the Hustle will likely be a streaky shooting team all season and the game against the Vipers proved that. The deficit grew when the Vipers were making 3’s and the Hustle were forcing shots on their own end and missing, but late in the 4th they were able to rally due to hot shooting from beyond the arc. Despite the streakiness, it was good to see the Hustle put together back-to-back games shooting it respectably beyond the arc.

22.8: The Hustle are a foul happy team, committing nearly 23 personal fouls a game. The fouls are pretty spread out among the team with nobody averaging more than Ivan Rabb’s 3.3 a game (I’m not counting the 5 fouls Jarell Martin picked up in his 1 game with the team). The foul problems allow for the opposing team to shoot nearly 30 free throws per game, which is the second highest in the G-League. The Hustle do a good job themselves at drawing fouls (23.8 a game) so if they can lower the amount of personal fouls they commit, they can take advantage of their ability to draw fouls instead of it just essentially balancing out.

Week 3 Grade- A

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

Despite the 1-1 record, Coach Cyprien has to be pleased with his team this past week. They showed signs of being able to play good defense when necessary in the win over the Wolves and they proved they aren’t reliant on Ivan Rabb to stay competitive in games. Deyonta Davis was a huge help in picking up Rabb’s production against the Wolves, but the overall balanced play from the Hustle earns them another A.

Week 4 Preview

Salt Lake City Stars (Update Record Tonight) @ Memphis Hustle 11/24 7 PM (@ FedExForum)

Erie Bayhawks (4-4) @ Memphis Hustle 11/25 7 PM

Memphis Hustle @ Agua Caliente Clippers (4-3) 11/28 9 PM

Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks
Tyler Dorsey and Kobi Simmons will square off again November 25th
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With all the injuries the Grizzlies are currently facing, the Hustle may be without the services of Vince Hunter next week and potentially Kobi Simmons. At the very least, it’s highly unlikely they get the benefit of Deyonta Davis being sent down to help the team out.

The Hustle will play their Friday night game against the Stars at the FedExForum and it will be the only time the Hustle will play in the Forum all season. It should be a cool experience for the team and their fans.

As far as the game goes, the Stars are one of the two winless teams in the league so far this season. The Hustle narrowed out a 102-99 victory in their first matchup this season. The Hustle will need to do a better job at containing Eric Griffin who had 25 points the last matchup. The Stars commit a league high 26 personal fouls a game, so if the Hustle can limit their fouls, they should be able to defeat the Stars again.

The Hustle will follow up the game against the Stars by traveling back home to the Landers Center to play the Bayhawks in their second back-to-back of the season. The Bayhawks are lead by the guard combo of Tyler Dorsey (when not with the Hawks) and Josh Magette. It will be interesting to see how fatigued the team is in the back-to-back, especially if they are still shorthanded. The matchup of the game will be Kobi Simmons and Marquis Teague vs Dorsey and Magette. Whoever wins that matchup likely wins the game.

The Hustle will wrap up the week with a trip out west to play the Agua Caliente Clippers. The Clippers, lead by Tyrone Wallace and Brice Johnson, are a well balanced team like the Hustle. Traveling all the way to Ontario, California will be the furthest the Hustle have traveled, and likely will travel, all season. The Clippers currently lead the league in rebounding, a claim the Hustle had a few weeks ago, so the outcome of this game will likely go to whoever wins the rebounding battle, especially on the offensive glass. Of all the games this week, this would be the game the Hustle need Ivan Rabb the most.