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The Hustle Report: Off to a Good Start

The Hustle begin the season 2-0 with two convincing wins

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Memphis Hustle v Mexico City Captains Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Week 1 Results

Lakeland Magic 105 at Memphis Hustle 123 (1-0)

Mexico City Capitanes 101 vs. Memphis Hustle 111 (2-0)

Game 1 Breakdown

Memphis Hustle v Mexico City Captains Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Justin Bean- 22 points, 9 rebounds
  • Matt Hurt- 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
  • Dakota Mathias- 15 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals
  • Sean McDermott- 13 points, 4 assists
  • Jacob Gilyard- 11 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals

The Hustle won their season opener last Friday in the shadows of the Grizzlies' blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets. It was a good debut for the Hustle, who rebounded from a slow start with a massive second quarter that helped propel the team to victory. The Hustle defense stepped up in the second half, limiting the Magic to 23 and 21 points in each quarter. All 9 Hustle players scored in double figures in the well-balanced attack. You can read my full recap of the game here.

Game 2 Breakdown

Memphis Hustle v Mexico City Captains Photo by Pablo Lomelin/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Kenneth Lofton Jr.- 24 points, 8 rebounds
  • Dakota Mathias- 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals
  • Sean McDermott- 16 points, 3 rebounds
  • Damien Jefferson- 12 points, 2 steals
  • Justin Bean- 11 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists

The Hustle picked up a win in their first-ever game in Mexico City against the Capitanes. The Hustle performed well in their first road test and were assisted by the Hustle debut of two-way player Kenneth Lofton Jr. who shined in the win. It was a wire-to-wire win by the Hustle who were able to fight off multiple Capitanes runs en route to the victory. It was another well-balanced scoring effort by the Hustle with 7 guys scoring in double figures.

Hustle Stats

103: The Hustle are currently tied for 3rd in the G League, allowing just 103 points to opponents in the first two games of the season. Defense was one of Jason March’s concerns heading into the season, but so far the Hustle have stepped up to the plate. After scoring 120 points in their season debut, the Hustle held the Capitanes to just 101 points on Monday. After scoring just 105 points against the Hustle last week, the Lakeland Magic went off for 130 points last Sunday. It is obviously a short sample size but the Hustle defense, including being 3rd in the league with 12 steals per game, has stepped up to the plate to start the year.

6: Another area of concern for Jason March was the team’s rebounding. Lacking size and strength with Freddie Gillespie heading overseas, the Hustle’s lone consistent big man with height is EJ Onu standing at 6’11”. Despite the lack of size, the Hustle have outrebounded their opponents by 6 to start the year. They outrebounded the Lakeland Magic by 5 on opening night after a struggle in the first quarter and then outrebounded the Capitanes by a single rebound in the win on Monday. The Hustle are middle of the pack in relation to the rest of the league in rebounding, but the fact they’ve won the rebounding battle in both games so far shows the effort and attention by the team on crashing the glass.

MVP of the Week - Justin Bean

Memphis Hustle v Mexico City Captains Photo by Pablo Lomelin/NBAE via Getty Images

Choosing MVP of the Week was tough for the first week. Lofton put up big numbers in Mexico City but missed the Hustle’s other game. Dakota Mathias stuffed the stat sheet and is an honorable mention, but ultimately I felt Justin Bean deserved the honors for his efforts the first week of the season. Bean averaged 16.5 points on 72.7% shooting while making 4 of his 5 attempts from beyond the arc. Additionally, averaged 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2 stocks per game in the two Hustle victories. In both games, Bean seemed to make the extra effort plays that either helped the Hustle get a stop or retain possession on the offensive end. Bean was extremely efficient on offense and was a key reason the Hustle impressed defensively and on the boards in Week 1.

Assignment Tracker

Memphis Hustle v Mexico City Captains Photo by Pablo Lomelin/NBAE via Getty Images

Kenneth Lofton Jr. played well in his Hustle debut. He scored 24 points on 9-16 shooting, including 2-6 from beyond the arc. He chipped in 8 rebounds and a steal to help lead the Hustle to victory. He held his own defensively and should only improve as he gets more reps with the Hustle.

On the downside, Junior shot 2-7 from the free throw line, turned the ball over 6 times, and picked up 5 fouls. Some of the turnovers were travels where he just shuffled his feet too quickly in the post. The turnovers and fouls should get better as Junior gets more comfortable playing alongside his Hustle teammates.

With limited real game experience since Summer League, it’s not surprising to see Junior show a little rust in his debut. The 2-7 showing from the charity stripe is hopefully more of an anomaly than something we will see frequently. Junior will certainly get the line a lot in the G League but will need to be much better from the line, especially since G League rules have it where it’s one free throw for two (or three) points for the first 46 minutes.

Overall, though, Junior showed why he’s a fan favorite by bullying the post against formidable NBA vets, Jahlil Okafor and Bruno Caboclo.

Week 2 Preview

Memphis Hustle v Mexico City Captains Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Memphis Hustle at Mexico City Capitanes (1-1) 11/10 8 PM CT

Memphis Hustle at Austin Spurs (1-1) 11/15 7:30 PM CT

Game 3 Preview: The Hustle stay in Mexico City to wrap up a 2-game slate against the Capitanes. In order to leave Mexico City with a sweep, the Hustle will need to continue to make things difficult for the Capitanes offense, in particularly their vets. Shabazz Napier (4-15 shooting), Mason Jones (4-13), Gary Clark (4-15) and Bruno Caboclo (2-6) struggled shooting the ball, with Jahlil Okafor the only efficient scorer earlier this week but was still limited. The Capitanes likely won’t shoot less than 40% from the field again, so the Hustle offense will need to continue to improve with more well-balanced scoring efforts.

Game 4 Preview: Following their return from Mexico City, the Hustle will get a few days off before a visit to Austin to face off against the Spurs. The Spurs are led by a trio of good players in two-way Charles Bassey (26 points per game), Jalen Adaway (22.5 points per game), and Chaundee Brown Jr. (22 points per game). Outside of that trio, the Spurs don’t have a ton of other threatening options. If the Hustle can limit the Big 3 in Austin, they should be able to continue their winning ways.

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