When: 8:00 pm EDT
Where: FedExForum; Memphis TN
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBATV, NBA League Pass
The Hornets have two preseason games left before the games start in earnest next week. That’s two more chances to find a rotation that works, two more chances to iron out the defensive breakdowns, and two more chances for fringe players to prove themselves worth of a roster spot.
Tonight’s game comes against fellow rebuilders, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies jump started their rebuild in the middle of last season after an uninspiring start. The sent Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline and set Mike Conley free to the Utah Jazz, where he has a chance to compete in a now wide open Western Conference. For their troubles, the Grizzlies ended up with the second pick in the draft. They picked Ja Morant, and early returns are very good.
Morant has had a very good start to the preseason while flying under the Zion Willimason-sized radar. In just 39 minutes across two preseason appearances, Morant has tallied 17 assists; only James Harden is averaging more this preseason. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Grayson Allen have led the team in scoring, averaging 18.5 and 18.0 points per game respectively.
But all these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, as the Grizzlies haven’t played an NBA team yet. Their first two games came against Maccabi Haifa of the Isaraeli Basketball Premier League and the New Zealand Breakers of the Australian NBL. The Hornets will be the first NBA test for this new look Grizzlies roster.
The Hornets, for their part, won’t be at full strength. Cody Martin and Nicolas Batum are both out with different right foot ailments. Malik Monk should be good to go after sitting out the second half of Friday’s game with a toe issue.
This is the first opponent the Hornets have faced that’s in a similar talent tier, so it’d be nice to see them play well for a full 48 minutes.