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The Hustle Report: Ready for a break

The Hustle have just one more game separating them from an All-Star breather

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Oklahoma City Blue v Memphis Hustle Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

Week 6 Results

Iowa Wolves 111 at Memphis Hustle 106 (4-10)

Oklahoma City Blue 97 at Memphis Hustle 104 (5-10)

Oklahoma City Blue 116 at Memphis Hustle 87 (5-11)

Week 6 Headlines

  • Hustle fall on Financial Literacy Day
  • Hustle get an assignment game out of Santi Aldama and Killian Tillie
  • David Stockton named to US Men’s World Cup qualifying team
  • Hustle acquire Damien Jefferson to fill Stockton’s roster spot

Game 14 Breakdown

Oklahoma City Blue v Memphis Hustle Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Ben Moore- 22 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
  • EJ Onu- 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
  • Reggie Hearn- 15 points, 8 rebounds
  • Shaq Buchanan- 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals
  • Ahmad Caver- 12 points, 7 assists, 5 steals

The Hustle lost a double overtime thriller to the Iowa Wolves on Financial Literacy Day. The Hustle overcame a 16-point deficit to send the game into overtime, but Isaiah Briscoe dominated the second overtime with a personal 5-0 run to seal the game for the Wolves. You can check out my full recap here.

Game 15 Breakdown

Oklahoma City Blue v Memphis Hustle Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Shaq Buchanan- 27 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
  • Ahmad Caver- 18 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals
  • Tyrell Terry- 17 points, 3 rebounds
  • Cameron Young- 15 points, 4 rebounds
  • Ben Moore- 7 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks

The Hustle were able to respond after a slow start to come back and defeat the OKC Blue in the first game of a back-to-back. The Blue, who held the League’s best defense, gave up 104 points to the Hustle and struggled to get things going offensively. After outscoring the Hustle 30-20 in the first quarter, the Blue failed to score more than 26 points in a quarter the rest of the game. The Hustle were able to overcome an early 12-point hole and win a close one in Southaven. You can check out my full recap here.

Game 16 Breakdown

Oklahoma City Blue v Memphis Hustle Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Stats

  • Santi Aldama- 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
  • Shaq Buchanan- 14 points
  • Ahmad Caver- 14 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
  • Cameron Young- 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks
  • Killian Tillie- 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals

The Blue defense showed up in a big way after giving up 104 to the Hustle the night before. The Hustle shot just 33.3% from the field and 21.2% from beyond the arc in the game as the Blue dominated the game from the tip. The Hustle never led, while the Blue led by as many as 32 points. The extra help in Aldama and Tillie couldn’t propel the Hustle offense into keeping the game close.

Hustle Stats

Oklahoma City Blue v Memphis Hustle Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

2.7: EJ Onu is 3rd in blocks in the G League, averaging 2.7 per game. He only trails the 7’6” Tacko Fall (2.8) and South Bay Lakers center Jay Huff (3.1) in the category. Onu was picked up in mid-January and has been another solid find by the Hustle front office. Onu is certainly a raw prospect with a lot to learn, but he’ll definitely continue to give himself the chance to grow with his ability to block shots, and alter the ones he doesn’t block, at the rim. Onu has filled in nicely as a rim protector after Freddie Gillespie went down with an ankle injury.

31.6%: The Hustle are a bottom 5 3-point shooting team in the G League, shooting just 31.6% from beyond the arc. It’s certainly been a frustrating season shooting the ball for some of the Hustle shooters as EJ Onu (45% on 1.7 attempts) and Cameron Young (38.3% on 6.7 attempts) are the only two who are consistent threats from beyond the arc. As great as Shaq Buchanan has been this year, he can follow up a 7-7 start from beyond the arc against the Legends, with an 0-9 game against the Wolves. His streakiness leaves him at 30.3% from deep on high volume. Caver (16.2%), Terry (26.6%), Hearn (27.5%) and Stockton (33.3%) are having some of their worst seasons shooting the ball from deep. The Hustle are doing a decent job of getting open looks, they just haven’t been able to buy a bucket in the first quarter of the season.

MVP of the Week - Ahmad Caver

Oklahoma City Blue v Memphis Hustle Photo by Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

A little bit of voter fatigue here as Shaq Buchanan isn’t MVP of the Week for the first time in awhile. While Shaq averaged more points per game than Ahmad, 18.3 compared to 14.7, Caver had the better all-around week as he chipped in 6.7 rebounds per game and 6.7 assists. Caver was also huge in the 2OT loss to Iowa, as his shot at the buzzer sent the game into OT. His first quarter kept the Hustle in the game against the Blue on Sunday (and Shaq’s strong 3rd quarter built the Hustle lead). Honestly could go with either guy this week, but giving the edge to Ahmad this go around.

Assignment Tracker

Memphis Hustle v Birmingham Squadron Photo by Mercedes Oliver/NBAE via Getty Images

Authors Note: Due to popular demand, I am replacing the weekly grade with an “assignment tracker”. This section will cover specifically the two-way and assignment players who play in games for the Hustle that week.

Tyrell Terry: Terry’s shooting struggles lingered this week as he averaged 10.3 points on 26.8% shooting from the field and 15.4% from beyond the arc. Jason March has continuously said Terry’s shooting is the least of his concerns, but Terry could really use a hot shooting game to help build his confidence offensively. Terry’s shooting struggles were on full display on Monday as he shot 1-14 from the field, and 1-5 from beyond the arc. The shooting struggles haven’t impacted the other areas of his game, as he averaged 4.7 assists per game this past week, and overall has done a good job rebounding the ball and playing defense in addition to his playmaking abilities.

Santi Aldama: Just one appearance by Aldama this past week, as he scored 19 points (5-14 shooting, 1-3 from deep), 10 rebounds and 2 assists in the Hustle loss to the Blues. Aldama figures to be able to get his offensively in the G League, but I was slightly concerned with the defense in this one. Aldama has been solid defensively in the G League but D.J. Wilson went off for 20 points and 13 rebounds against the Hustle in the game with Aldama. It wasn’t all on Aldama, but it’ll be interesting how he matches up against fringe NBA guys at the G League level.

Killian Tillie: Tillie was relatively quiet in his first game with the Hustle since November 16th. Tillie didn’t come in and force things after being out of the Hustle lineup for nearly 3 months but he was efficient in his opportunities. He finished with 10 points on 5-9 shooting, going 0-2 from beyond the arc. Tillie also picked up 3 rebounds and 2 steals in nearly 25 minutes of action.

Week 7 Preview

Rio Grande Valley Vipers vs Stockton Kings Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images

Stockton Kings (8-8) at Memphis Hustle 2/17 7:00 PM CT

Game 17 Preview: The Hustle have just one more game between them and the All-Star Break. They’ll need to come in focused on the game, and not look ahead to the upcoming days off. The Kings are another G League team whose success can depend upon two-way and assignment players. Out of their consistently available guys, Emanuel Terry (16.1 ppg), Ade Murkey (14.1 ppg), DJ Stewart (13.5 ppg) and Matt Coleman III (12.4 ppg) make up a solid 4-man attack that can be tough to slow down once they get things going. The Kings don’t attack you with star power, instead they rely on the depth and being able to hurt you with multiple different guys.

The Kings also rely heavily on their defense to slow down opposing offenses, as they are currently the leaders in opponent points per game, limiting teams to just 103.5 points per game. The Hustle will need to force turnovers and get easy looks at the basket to take advantage of every possession against a great defensive team.

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