This game flashed glimpses of the future. Though he didn’t launch very many shot attempts, Jaren Jackson Jr. showed off his unicorn skillset, drilling 4 three’s — a few of them coming off the dribble. Brandon Clarke was all over the place, finishing around the paint with high efficiency and making impact plays defensively.
Then, Ja Morant showed why he could be a future superstar in this league, making numerous jaw-dropping plays, putting the team on his back to seal the game, and releasing his swagger.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets wasn’t supposed to be a marquee matchup last night, but it was surely a fun contest. Though the game was a tad sloppy, both teams fired from 3 with little hesitation, connecting on 33 of their combined 72 attempts from downtown.
We briefly talked about the Grizzlies’ bright young trio, but how did everyone grade out?
Just There... (Grade: D)
Jae Crowder and Tyus Jones didn’t impact the game last night, as it looked like they were just there.
Jae Crowder fired from deep unconsciously and had an off shooting night, only making 1 of his 5 three-point attempts. In addition, he made some bonehead decisions down the stretch, very uncommon for the veteran.
After averaging 9.8 points and 5.8 assists in his previous 5 games, Tyus Jones had a fairly quiet night. He didn’t register a point, and he had just as many turnovers (3) as he did assists (3).
- Brandon Clarke (B-)
Brandon Clarke wasn’t necessarily a +/- god as he usually is, sitting at a -3 in this game. That small Charlotte run at the end might’ve hurt his case on that one. He also had 4 turnovers. Regardless, Clarke had another strong showing, totaling 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. As always, he did a tremendous job diving to and finishing around the rim. He also drilled a huge corner triple in crunch time.
Reminder: There were 20 players drafted before Brandon Clarke.
- Marko Guduric (A)
In the first half, Guduric didn’t really have anything going, but his impact was monstrous in the second half. He played an instrumental role in the Grizzlies’ big 26-5 run, as he scored 14 of his 17 points in the second-half. He also hit 4 of his 6 three-point attempts, building on his hot shooting run thus far.
Guduric highlighted everything the front office raved about, and his shooting is a key for this pace-and-space offense.
- Solomon Hill (A)
By default, Solomon HIll gets an A, as he did have the team’s highest +/- as +18. Hill made the most of his opportunities, as he hit 3 big first-half triples. In addition, he never forced anything and always looked for open teammates when his shot wasn’t there, as he finished with 4 assists.
Hill’s play has been a major surprise thus far, and as a veteran expiring contract, his trade value is going to be interesting to monitor.
- Kyle Anderson (B)
Kyle Anderson had a strong #onbrand game. His numbers don’t pop off the box score (5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals), but he did a great job doing the little things to impact the game.
His grade is based on a curve, as he made my favorite pass of the game:
- Jonas Valanciunas (B)
Jonas Valanciunas had another double-double — 18 points and 13 rebounds. At times, you could tell the length of the Hornets defense was bothering him. However, it’s looking like Valanciunas is finding his groove and niche in this new system.
- Dillon Brooks (B)
On paper, Dillon Brooks had a nice game, finishing with 15 points on 6-13 shooting from the field (3-6 from deep), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. I liked his quick trigger on his 3-point attempts, as he is one of the team’s most potent catch-and-shoot players. In addition, he’s been a nice secondary playmaker alongside Morant.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. (B)
Are 7-footer’s supposed to do this?
Jaren Jackson Jr. had the chance to show off his unicorn skillset, blasting four triples for the second consecutive game. However, it was really the only thing he got to show off, as he finished with 9 shot attempts — with 6 of them being triple attempts.
He didn’t get in foul trouble again, so that’s a great sign.
- Ja Morant (A+)
Before the game-winner, I was going to give Ja an “A-” for letting Terry Rozier go off, but I couldn’t.
Ja was brilliant.
He put on a passing clinic, finishing with a career-high 11 assists. He scored in a variety of ways, displaying a nice dash of pizzazz on numerous finishes. More importantly, he stepped up on the road as a 20 year-old rookie to seal the game over a 7-footer.
Those are some real stones.
This is just the beginning, but it looks like the Grizzlies got themselves a legitimate superstar in the making.