Well that was interesting.
Preseason or not, a 30-point blowout on another playoff caliber team is impressive to say the least. On a night where Memphis starters combined for 55 points by halftime & every starter accounted for at least 11 points a piece, this is the type of game that creates mini-rivalries between young teams like these two. Memphis came out the gate hungry - a calling card of sorts for “Grz Nxt Gen.” After scoring 31 points in the opening period & holding Charlotte to just 19 points, “Nxt Gen” went for the jugular in the second quarter & scored a whopping 42 points, holding the Hornets to just 24 points to take a 30 point lead at halftime. Ironically the Hornets matched every single blow the Grizzlies delivered in the second half but were far too behind to avoid the 30 point beatdown this game eventually amounted to.
Ja Morant 24 minutes/16 points/8 assists/5 rebounds/2 blocks/1 steal/ +23
Ja Morant kept the momentum going from his preseason debut Tuesday night. “12” looked to get guys in rhythm a little more this game. He also allowed young guys like Desmond Bane to get in rare form on ball, as he will need all the help he can get in a reloaded Western Conference. From smooth iso-shot created buckets in the mid-range to glorious finishes at the rim, Ja displayed the ultimate confidence in every level of his scoring range, even if he did miss both of his long range attempts. He had some sneaky blocks & even a steal, showing defense has become even more of a priority in the race to contention.
He also won the matchup between he & fellow rising star LaMelo Ball who had only 13 points. Ja has not only improved, his since of urgency seems to have evolved into that of a hungry young star as he has been all gas no breaks the first two preseason games. If it weren’t for him missing both of his long range attempts he would be graded at A+ but a solid one will have to do for now.
Jaren Jackson Jr 20 minutes/16 points/7 rebounds/+28 (Game High)
Jaren seems determined to make good on the poll that predicts him to be the league’s breakout player this season. His overall efficiency is still a work in progress, however he did shoot a strong 42.9% from Three-point territory on 3-7 attempts. If he can sustain such efficiency on a high volume of long range shots then he should be fine. The creative playmaking of “12,” & the sheer brute & selfless play of Steven Adams should do wonders for his scoring ambitions inside the arc, especially closer to the rim.
Jaren has another stellar evening defensively which lead to his game high +/- for the second game in the row. His offense will come the more he keeps shooting. The key is his health, fluidity & feel for the game all aligned on a consistent basis. His overall efficiency is the only note to work on from this game, for the most part.
Steven Adams 24 minutes/15 points/16 rebounds/3 assists/+23
Jonas Valan-WHO? Literally the tweets of Memphis fans watching “Steve-O” his first couple of games on his “Beale St Hustle.” Steven Adams has been nothing short of exceeding expectations. From his activity, positioning, angles, physicality, box outs & his underrated passing, “Steve-O” has already endeared himself to Memphis fans. He was simply too much grown mane for mere insects in Charlotte. The Mane had a double-double Of 11 points & 11 rebounds at the half! The crazy part, is he did this in 11 minutes of ticks with just under 5 minutes left in the first half!
When he wasn’t the clean up mane, he was using his physical off ball activity to create easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. His defense along with Jaren’s around the paint made Charlotte’s two-point game virtually non-existent. He’s truly a winning teammate, especially considering his limitations in today’s NBA. Only reason he doesn’t get an A+ is his 6 turnovers.
Desmond Bane 20 minutes/19 points/6 rebounds/3 assists/1 steal/+25
BANE BANE BANE! As if his performance tuesday night wasn’t convincing! This man is asserting himself as not only a full-time starter but more so a rising star. Whenever guys either didn’t have a shot or weren’t comfortable taking the shot they had, Bane would somehow get the ball & get a bucket. He is now playing like he knows he’s a star in the making & the results are favoring his rise to stardom. His activity around the ball on both ends of the court are that of a veteran. His playmaking & shot creation are currently stronger than anyone on this team not named Ja Morant, if you ask me.
It’s to a point where if Bane shoots a shot I expect him to make it regardless of the range or if it’s contested or not. His defense is becoming an unsung hero of sorts as well, as he was a +25 tonight & held off momentum runs from the Hornets guards/wings. He usually makes the right decision & you can tell guys are comfortable with the game in his hands. A profund feat for an incoming sophomore.
De’Anthony Melton 18 minutes/ 11 points/ 3 rebounds/ 2 steals/ +17
“Mr. Do-Sumthin” was another one in the column of consistency the first two games. He continued his hot streak from deep going 3-5 from long range & shooting 66.7% from the field on 6 total attempts. He most definitely did something in his limited action. Things are gonna be interesting if Melton maintains the play of his first two preseason games the entire season. Melton seemed to always be in the right place to catch and shoot. And he wasn’t flying all over the court on the defensive end as well.
Tyus Jones- 19 minutes/11 points
Tyus bounced back to a degree this game after struggling mightily Tuesday night. Tonight the three time “Minnesota Mr. Basketball” winner only missed one shot inside the arc tonight, however he only made one of his four attempts from three-point land. His defense was decent as well, however the same problem for Tyus still exists, if he plans on getting core minutes this season, he has to improve from deep, especially in a lineup with Steven Adams & Ja Morant. He played better but I also know Tyus can be that much better once he plays more fearless.
REST OF THE CREW
Rest of the crew
Ziaire Williams has to work on getting to his hot zones more & his basketball IQ/awareness, specifically his off ball activity & ability to be in the right place to get the easiest buckets possible. Not much to pull from this game from the rookie.
Kyle Anderson is struggles from deep again tonight, but no need to panic after the first two preseason games. He shot only 3/10 from the field but he was active on both endangering for the most part even if far from efficient in scoring. He is still the lead singer of “The Hesi-Hitch Boys” (co-starring Brandon Clarke as he thinks too much about his shots from deep when attempting to use his burner) though. Just let it fly Kyle!
GRADE- C- (mostly due to him clearly thinking too much when he shoots)
Xavier Tillman scored 8 points in just under 10 minutes of play. He split his two long range attempts & grabbed four rebounds & played solid defense near the rim.
Shaq Buchanan was productive but was also a part of the lineup that broke even with Charlotte in the second half of the game. He made some nice buckets but gave up a few as well, most evident by his -2 +/- in a game his team won by a whopping 30 point blowout. He looked decent in his time offensively but has to put it all together at the same time more if he ever wants to play extended minutes with his fellow Racer alumni in “12.”
What more can one say? Taylor Jenkins & the gang coached these boys up like they were the little giants! “Nxt Gen” continues to come out swinging & putting severe pressure on teams early on. I would like to see them work more on situational momentum, but it would be petty of me to grade against them for that. A 30 point win is one thing, but to do so against another playoff contender with a fully healthy lineup on their home court demands respect.