The Memphis Grizzlies are looking to secure their first win of the season — and as a byproduct, the first win for Taylor Jenkins and Ja Morant’s NBA careers. Meanwhile, they’re taking on a Brooklyn Nets team looking to form continuity, as they too experienced a lot of turnover this offseason.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were the biggest acquisitions this summer, but newcomers like Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, and David Nwaba have decent roles on this team as well.
We caught up with Tom Lorenzo from NetsDaily to talk about today’s game with the Grizzlies and Nets.
1) With Kevin Durant out this season, what’s the overall expectation for this year’s team?
The expectation this year is for the team to get into a position where “they’re ready” for when Kevin Durant returns. It’s to get guys like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, etc., to a position where they’ve continued to improve and to grow around Kyrie Irving as they wait on Durant to get back on the court. Of course there is an expectation that even without Durant they’ll make the playoffs and make some noise - win a round? - since the they feel like even without Durant they are a better team this year than they were last year. Missing the playoffs would be a big disappointment. But, the biggest thing is to have this team ready to compete at a championship level for when Durant is healthy.
2) Do you see the young players (LeVert, Dinwiddie, Allen, Prince) as long-term complementary pieces next to Kyrie and KD, or as trade assets for a 3rd star?
I don’t see them moving the young guys for a third star. I suppose anything is possible and it depends on who that third star is (Bradley Beal was a name, at one point, thrown around and of course that’s a highly interesting “third star,” but that ship has sailed...), but the Nets think they already have a third star in Caris LeVert, which, if get a chance to watch him on a regular basis you’ve seen those flashes - for him, though, it’s just a matter of staying healthy. As of now, today, I would say that the Nets won’t end up moving their young players, rather they want to see LeVert develop into that third star.
3) Are you a fan of DeAndre Jordan starting over Jarrett Allen?
No. Though, I mean, really it’s all about minutes distribution, which needs to continue to trend in favor of Allen. Jordan is a nice piece, someone who can help to develop Allen (and even another young player like Nic Claxton), but really Allen needs to be the priority. So far the third-year big has been off to a slow start, especially on offense, but the Nets need to stick with him. They have high hopes for him, so I see them continuing to make him the priority.
4) What matchup are you looking forward to the most in this game?
Hard not to go with Ja Morant vs. Kyrie Irving here. You have arguably one of the best 2-3 point guards in the game taking on a future All-Star in the making. Both are quick, have handles, can move the ball - should be a really fun, uptempo kind of matchup. This one is going to be a lot of fun to watch today and even over the next couple of years.
5) What’s your final score prediction?
I think this is going to be a fairly high scoring one - the Nets are putting up a ton of points early on, while also giving up A LOT of points. Memphis, similarly, has struggled on defense, so I’m going with: Nets 116, Grizzlies 107.