Memphis Hustle start 5-0 in Regular Season

With an undefeated start to the GLeague regular season, Jason March and the Memphis Hustle are continuing to find their flow 5 games in after a 11-7 record in the GLeague’s Winter Showcase. All together, the team is 16-7 with a 12-2 record since the beginning of December.

Since the reins of the Memphis Grizzlies were handed to Zachary Kleiman, the organization top to bottom has held an immensely high investment in its player development and scouting. It’s funny how it is always noted how different of a team that Grizzlies fans are watching in contrast to the prime of GNG, the end of it, and their return to success now. No matter how many times it is said, it is a little wild to consider.

You see the effects (and assignments) trickle all the way down I-55 to Southaven, MS. The Grizzlies find themselves at the top of the West with a slew of players itching for run time while Jenkins tinkers with his lineup. Keeping their two rookie 2Way players - Vince Williams Jr and Kenny Lofton Jr - and the three rookies on the main roster- Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, and Kennedy Chandler- as fresh as possible for when their number is called has led to a lot of assignments, recalls, and reassignment cycles for these guys. Even sophomore Xavier Tillman Sr has made 4 appearances. It works.

(From Basketball Reference and NBA G League Stats) Instances of any back to back for LaRavia between the Grizzlies and Hustle. Includes any consecutive availability even if resulted in a DNP because of the toll of travel. Also shows the Inactives he's notched for the Grizzlies while assigned to the Hustle in any of these back to back scenarios.

Outside of the 2Way players, LaRavia has seen the most run time on assignments appearing 9 times for the hustle. He’s appeared in 7 of the team’s last 8 games. The last 6 of their active 7 game win streak - missing the first of the run against the Westchester Knicks - and their most recent loss before it began to the Birmingham Squadron on December 17th before the Hustle went to Las Vegas for two outings at the Showcase cup. Since December 29 - less than two weeks ago - LaRavia has played in or has been available for 9 Games in 14 days. After 5 games in 6 days, he was still active for the Grizzlies blow out win over Charlotte, but was given a DNP for some deserved rest.

LaRavia is only one example of what the coaching staff and front office are doing to give their players the most opportunities for development as injury dynamics, ebbs and flows of the regular season, and different looks at the 7-9 slots in the rotation before playoffs. March, in his 4th season as head coach of the Hustle, has consistently done a phenomenal job of sustaining the culture laid out ahead of him. Each player is ready for everything when their number is called. Affiliate players for the Hustle like Dakota Mathias, Justin Bean, or Jacob Gilyard routinely have to sacrifice their minutes to the 2Way players and assignment players.

Generally speaking, it would be incredibly easy to see some teams have issues with their dynamics or culture missing their opportunities. The GLeague works as a developmental playground because of its tenacious nature. NBA careers are at stake for everyone. Assignment players are trying to prove they do not belong there when rehabbing or trying to get back into rotation to keep their roster spot. 2Way Players are trying to elevate themselves above the other players across the NBA to receive a full time roster spot of their own. Affiliate players then have to go for the scraps of opportunities for 10 days and contracts as injuries and cuts occur.

The Grizzlies and Hustle have not had this problem (the one exception possibly being Josh Jackson a couple years ago). You see support for the Hustle from every member of the Grizzlies staff, front office, and roster as it becomes a who’s who of the organization nearly every home game. Danny Green, Tayshaun Prince, Ja Morant, and more all make regular trips to watch their guys go.

It is incredibly special to see the success the Grizzlies has had in the NXT GEN, but it is even more telling of their developmental prowess to see it consistently for the affiliate teams. With only 13 home games left in the season for the Hustle, blink and you just might miss it.

While the Grizzlies take on the Spurs tonight with the return of Ja Morant after two games (hip soreness), the Hustle will be in Wisconsin to go against the Herd, affiliate team of the Bucks. Also undefeated at (3-0), the Herd will feature former Grizzly Jontay Porter, brother of Denver’s Michael Porter Jr, who was waived after making only 11 appearances over his short time with Memphis. He is currently averaging 12.7 points, 16.7 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, and only 2.7 fouls in 30 minutes across the three appearance’s he has had in the regular season. He will be a match up to watch for Kenny Lofton Jr, who was named Slam’s NBA GLeague Player to Watch for the month of December.

For more in-depth coverage- Check out the latest Hustle Report from Grizzly Bear Blues Ast Site Manager Brandon Abraham -*3luzn7*


(Courtesy of NBAGLeague)

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