Whether it’s the preseason or the regular season, a blowout 128-98 victory always looks good on the resume, which is exactly what the Memphis Grizzlies earned on the road tonight against the Charlotte Hornets.
Here are a few takeaways:
Ja Morant Will Not Be Stopped
So far in the preseason, Ja Morant has just carried himself with just a different aura. You could see it tonight when he attacked the basket on both of the Grizzlies’ first two possessions. He dominated early and continued to do so, finishing the game with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. He relentlessly attacked downhill, demonstrated an improved jumper with much better elevation, and he was just a constant nightmare for anyone the Hornets threw in front of him.
Ja has always expected himself to be great. But now it seems like he’s going to demand that everyone acknowledges the same.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams Are Imposing
From a purely physical standpoint, Jaren Jackson Jr. looks like a behemoth compared to his rookie self. It can already be said that he’s improved as a rebounder, which shouldn’t be surprising, because again, he looks like a freak now. He finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds in just 20 minutes, while showing off his touch from three as well as improved footwork and inside.
And then there was Steven Adams, who basically exemplified the dominance of Jonas Valanciunas on the boards except on steroids. He totaled 15 points along with 16 rebounds and generally just looked like a man among boys in the painted area.
Many (including myself) were concerned about a potential decrease in physicality without Valanciunas this year. The early returns suggest that won’t be the case.
Leaps Are On the Horizon
Much attention has been given to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson’s growth in year three, but in the absence of Grayson Allen, it appears that Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton will have the freedom to be fully unleashed.
Bane in particular is starting to look the part of the most prolific shooting weapon the Grizzlies have ever had in their backcourt. His shooting prowess was on full display as he finished with 19 points on 8-11 shooting and 3-5 from three. His threes came in a variety of ways, with two of them coming off the dribble in isolation situations. Having that type of shot-creation next to Ja Morant will do wonders for both Morant’s playmaking as well as the Grizzlies’ offense as a whole.