2020 is finally over, and it looks like it’s going to start as “2020 the Sequel” for the Memphis Grizzlies. They will be without [takes breath] Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., De’Anthony Melton, Justise Winslow, Grayson Allen, Xavier Tillman, Jontay Porter, and Killian Tillie.
I’m upset we were robbed of our first matchup with Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball, but let’s still appreciate that we have NBA basketball. I talked with Jonathan DeLong from SB Nation’s At the Hive about tonight’s game!
How high is LaMelo’s ceiling? Do you think he could hit the same level as Ja and Trae?
We like to believe LaMelo has superstar potential, but it’s hard to find a comparison for him because he’s such a unique prospect. He probably won’t score at the level of Ja or Trae, but he can make up for it with rebounding and more defensive potential (especially compared to Trae). He’s improved by leaps and bounds from game one to game four, which adds to the excitement for Hornets fans. I think we got ourselves a good one.
Which young players do you see as long term building blocks?
Honestly it seems like most of the players in the rotation are long term building blocks, save for the center position. Rozier, Graham, and Ball should be a very dangerous guard rotation for a long time. PJ Washington is a rare player that can get a lot of shots, hit threes, take advantage of mismatches in the post, and make plays for others. Miles Bridges has bought in to his bench role and is a menace all over the place. The Martin twins and Jalen McDaniels are probably overextended as major rotation pieces, but they can contribute to a good team.
What else does this team need?
The team badly needs a long term answer at center. Bismarck Biyombo and Cody Zeller are decent players, but the Hornets are in need of an upgrade there. They could also use a little more outside shooting on the wings, though Gordon Hayward has alleviated that quite a bit.
Without Ja and Jaren, which matchup are you looking forward to the most?
Two things—without Morant, I imagine Dillon Brooks is going to take it upon himself to be the team’s bucket getter. The Hornets, and Cody Martin specifically, made life miserable for Luka on Wednesday. I’d like to see them do the same to Brooks, who isn’t on the same level as Luka (no offense). I also wanna see how the Hornets handle Jonas Valanciunas. Biyombo should be able to handle him fine, but it’s gonna take a team effort when the Hornets go small with Washington at center.
Final score prediction?
Hornets 115, Grizzlies 105
Follow Jonathan DeLong (@JonDeLong42) and At the Hive (@At_The_Hive) on Twitter for the best Hornets coverage.