The Hustle are set to tip off their 3rd season in franchise history tomorrow night at home in the Landers Center against the Texas Legends. With the Hustle season starting up, it’s also time for the Hustle Report to pick things back up.
If it’s your first time checking out the Hustle Report, it is Grizzly Bear Blue’s weekly recap of the previous Hustle week with a preview of the upcoming week hosted by yours truly. We’ll also take a look at standout players, interesting stats and so much more throughout the Hustle season.
But before we can look ahead to this season and tomorrow nights matchup, we need to look back on last season.
Under first year coach Brad Jones, the Hustle made their first ever playoff appearance in just their second season as a team. The team finished 5th in the standings and defeated the 4th ranked Stockton Kings in the first round of the playoffs thanks to a game winning 3-point shot from try-out player Jay-R Strowbridge. The Hustle ended up falling to the eventual champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the second round of the playoffs.
The successful season for the Hustle helped Dusty Hannahs, the Hustle’s all-time leading scorer, get a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies at the tail end of last year. It also helped Brad Jones get promoted to the Grizzlies coaching staff after Taylor Jenkins was hired over the summer.
Hannahs couldn’t land with an NBA team after a solid summer league with the Grizzlies, so he’s back with the Hustle becoming the only player to be with the Hustle all 3 seasons in franchise history. Replacing Brad Jones is Jason March, who spent 9 seasons with the Grizzlies before following Dave Joerger to Sacramento for a 3 year pit stop.
In the G-League, it’s incredibly difficult to predict who will be good and who won’t as players get called up and down from their NBA affiliates, as well as earning NBA contracts. Regardless, the Hustle figure to be pretty darn competitive to start the 2019-2020 season. Jason March will have Marquis Teague, team co-captain of the Hustle’s inaugural season, is back after spending last season in Korea.
Alongside Teague and Hannahs, the Hustle will have excellent two-way players in forwards Yuta Watanabe and John Konchar. Nino Johnson joins Hannahs and Watanabe as the only returning players from last years team. The Hustle also picked up the following players after they signed Exhibit 10 contracts with the Grizzlies: Texas Tech star Matt Mooney, Ja Morant’s bounce brother Shaq Buchanan, Bennie Boatwright out of USC, Ahmad Caver out of Old Dominion, and Jarrod Uthoff out of Iowa.
The Hustle’s roster coming out of training camp is also highlighted by former Memphis Tiger Raynere Thornton. The Hustle have done an excellent job over their 3 seasons with incorporating local Memphis talent on their roster.
The Hustle will also be bolstered by the assignment of Josh Jackson, former 4th overall pick who was acquired by the Grizzlies last summer. Jackson, although he likely won’t be playing in Hustle red for too long, figures to play motivated to start the season to earn a spot in the Grizzlies lineup.
Overall, the Hustle figure to have plenty of talent on the roster to improve upon last season.
Week 1 Preview
Game 1: Texas Legends at Memphis Hustle 11/08 7 PM CT
Game 2: Memphis Hustle at Texas Legends 11/09 7:30 PM CT
Game 3: Iowa Wolves at Memphis Hustle 11/11 7 PM CT
Game 4: Memphis Hustle @ Austin Spurs 11/13 11 AM CT
Game 1 Preview: The Hustle will tip off their season at home tomorrow night against the Texas Legends. The Legends went 16-34 last season with the 3rd worst record in the G-League. The Legends figure to be equally as bad this upcoming season, after losing a majority of their leading scorers from last seasons team. Former Grizzly Xavier Rathan-Mayes returns, as well as former Memphis Tiger and Hustle player Trahson Burrell. Outside of those two, the rest of the roster is a bunch of unproven guys. Simply put, the Hustle should be able to take care of business against the Legends to open up the season.
Game 2 Preview: The Hustle and Legends will then board a plane and head to Texas to face off in the second game of the back-to-back against one another. It’ll be interesting to see how both teams play in a back-to-back so early in the season and what adjustments Jason March will need to make, if any. Outside of some potentially tired legs, the Hustle should be able to start the season 2-0.
Game 3 Preview: The Hustle will then have a quick turnaround to face off against the Iowa Wolves back in Southaven on Monday. The Wolves went 20-30 last season and were mostly inconsistent due to who was and was not available on any given night. The Wolves have yet to announce their set roster for the 2019-2020 season, but Canyon Barry, Tyus Battle, and Trevon Duval all figure to be key players this upcoming season for the Wolves. The Wolves may also have the benefit of having guys like Naz Reid and Keita Bates-Diop on assignment from Minnesota as well. The Wolves matchup will be the first real test of the Hustle season and a win won’t come easy.
Game 4 Preview: The Hustle will then pack their bags again for Texas, this time traveling to face off against the Austin Spurs on Wednesday night. The Spurs went 20-30 last season like the Wolves but figure to be a tougher team this upcoming season. Returning for the Spurs are Jordan Green and Jed Ledbetter, with Drew Eubanks and Quinndary Weatherspoon filling out the Spurs two-way slots. Alongside those guys is former Memphis Tiger and Kansas Jayhawk, Dedric Lawson. The Spurs may also send down 2019 draft picks Keldon Johnson and Luka Samanic on assignment should they feel so inclined. The Hustle should still have the upper hand on the Spurs, but a road game in Austin could spell trouble for the Hustle.
Be sure to follow along with GBB for all your coverage of both the Memphis Grizzlies and the Memphis Hustle.