The Memphis Hustle announced their roster for the 2021 NBA G League Season yesterday. The 11-man team will head down to Orlando later next month for a revised version of the G League season in their own Disney World Bubble.
I wrote last December about Exhibit 10 contracts and in that piece I covered some of the E10 players that the Grizzlies had signed to play for the Hustle. In addition to the E10 players, the Hustle roster is made up of players drafted in the 2020-2021 G-League draft and transactions made on that day. To get prepared for the upcoming Hustle season, let’s take a look at the Hustle players that haven’t previously been covered at Grizzly Bear Blues.
Anthony Cowan Jr.
The Hustle selected Maryland guard Anthony Cowan Jr. with the 16th overall pick in the 2020-2021 G League Draft. As a senior last season, Cowan Jr. averaged 16.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Terrapins. Cowan figures to be one of the key point guards for the Hustle this upcoming season and provides a nice scoring option as well as someone who can really facilitate the ball. On the downside, Cowan will need to improve on his 3-point shooting for the Hustle next season. Cowan shot less than 34% on over 5 attempts per game in his final two seasons at Maryland. For a Hustle team that will be without sharpshooter Dusty Hannahs for the first time ever, they’ll need to find 3-point shooting from somewhere.
The lone player on the Hustle roster who is listed as a Center is a local tryout from Murray State. Cowart played two seasons at Murray State after spending his first two seasons at Cowley County Community College. As a Junior alongside Ja Morant and Shaq Buchanan, Cowart averaged 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. Last season Cowart saw his numbers drop slightly where he averaged 8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in just 8 games before an injury cost him the rest of the season. Assuming he’s coming into this G League season healthy, Cowart will need to be a big presence down low on a team that lacks a ton of size.
The Hustle acquired Gillespie with the 2nd overall pick in the 2020-2021 G League Draft after a trade that sent Jarrod Uthoff to the Erie BayHawks. Gillespie joined the Baylor Bears after two seasons at Division III school Carleton College in his home state of Minnesota. After a solid junior season at Baylor, Gillespie took on a larger role his senior year starting in all 30 games. Gillespie averaged 9.6 points and 9 rebounds per game for the Bears while also picking up 2 blocks per game on the defensive side of the ball. Gillespie will provide the Hustle with a true paint presence despite being slightly undersized. Gillespie won’t provide much for the Hustle in playmaking and scoring from outside the paint, but he’ll be an excellent rebounder and able to clean up misses around the rim.
The Hustle acquired David Stockton in a trade with the South Bay Lakers that saw the Hustle send Dusty Hannahs to the Lakers, who then flipped him to the Santa Cruz Warriors. Stockton is the G League veteran for the Hustle this season after spending 5 out of the last 6 seasons in the G League. In his G League career, Stockton has averaged 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. Although his 3-point shooting plummeted last season with the South Bay Lakers, Stockton is a 37% shooter from beyond the arc in his career. It is still to be determined if Jason March will roll with Stockton as his starting point guard or if he’ll ride with one of the younger guys on the roster but Stockton figures to be a key player on and off the court for the Hustle.
I wrote earlier in November covering the new Grizzlies two-way additions in Sean McDermott and Killian Tillie as you can get a more in depth look at McDermott there. McDermott figures to try and replicate the 3-point shooting prowess that Dusty Hannahs has brought the Hustle for the past 3-seasons. On a two year two-way contract with the Grizzlies, McDermott figures to be a key player for this Hustle in the bubble this upcoming season. Likely keyed in as a starter and the focal point of the offense, McDermott will have a lot of eyes on him.
The Hustle roster came out and none of the players were of any real surprise. What was somewhat surprising though was the absence of Killian Tillie, who is on a two-way contract like McDermott. Tillie recently was taken off the Grizzlies injury report prior to their recent stretch of games shut down due to COVID-19. The lack of Tillie is somewhat perplexing but it makes sense for the Grizzlies. With the Hustle playing in Orlando, the Grizzlies front office wouldn’t get to see as much of Tillie if he were to spend the entire G League season in Orlando. Even if Tillie doesn’t suit up for the Grizzlies, the front office will be able to get a good look at the big man from Gonzaga in practices at FedExForum.
Tillie would figure to have gotten more time with the Hustle had the G League season gone on like normal. However, with the bubble in Orlando, it would be more difficult for the Grizzlies to really evaluate Tillie if he were to join the Hustle in Orlando.
The complete Hustle schedule should be announced soon as the Hustle embark upon their 4th season as a franchise. The squad will look to continue the success they were having last season as one of the best teams in the G League prior to the season being suspended and cancelled.
Stick with Grizzly Bear Blues as more information on the Hustle’s upcoming season becomes available.