The Wizards (7-16) are in Memphis Saturday night to take on Ja Morant and the Grizzlies (8-16). This matchup may not have major implications for the conference standings, but it figures to be an exciting matchup between two young, rebuilding teams.
Washington has lost three straight and is now 2-8 over their last 10 games. Early season glimmers of playoff hopes are fading as the team gets deeper into the season. The schedule has gotten significantly tougher, and matchups against the likes of the Lakers, Clippers, and Heat have shown that this team still has a ways to go. Young teams have to take their lumps; it is a rite of passage in this league.
Memphis, 3-7 over their last 10, is led by the young duo of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. The Grizzlies are on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost to the Bucks on Friday. Morant, the early Rookie of the Year frontrunner, is blowing up Twitter timelines this season with buzzer-beaters and posters galore. He sat out against the Bucks but is expected to play Saturday night.
Jaren Jackson Jr., one of the standouts of last year’s rookie class, is having himself a solid sophomore campaign, but it has been somewhat overshadowed by the sensational play of Morant. This duo looks like they have what it takes to be the franchise cornerstones for the Grizzlies moving forward.
Key Matchup: Jaren Jackson Jr. vs Rui Hachimura
The Wizards starting lineup is up in the air, as Moe Wagner didn’t practice on Thursday. Rui will be starting but may need to help guard Jonas Valanciunas if Wagner is unable to play. Either way, we should get the chance to see him matched up with Jackson Jr. throughout the night.
Jackson Jr. is one of the league’s best young forwards. Neither he nor Hachimura is known as defensive stoppers at this point in their careers. However, both have great offensive skillsets for young players. This matchup will be a good measuring stick for Hachimura, who has been one of the more consistent rookies in this year’s class.
One thing to keep an eye on from Hachimura: though he is only 23 games into his NBA career, he’s already making noticeable efforts to adjust and adapt his game. Over the last 10 games or so, he’s shown an increased willingness to challenge defenders at the rim, something that Scott Brooks has praised him for.
Early in the season, he settled for mid-range jumpers more often. The mid-range shot is still a huge part of his game and likely always will be, but it’s great to see him varying his shot selection and expanding his offensive arsenal.
- Davis Bertans’ averages over his last 5 games: 24.4 PTS, 6.0 3PM, 48.4 3P%, 7.9 Net Rating, 4.0 Assist/turnover ratio
- Bradley Beal is shooting 38.0% from the field and 28.1% from three-point range over his last five. He’s had an up and down season shooting the ball. Hopefully we see him reverse course soon
- Washington: CJ Miles and Isaiah Thomas OUT; Isaac Bonga DTD
- Memphis: Andre Iguodala OUT; Josh Jackson SUSPENSION; Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, and Grayson Allen DTD
Spread: Wasington (-1)
Total: O/U 236
Money lines: Washington -115, Memphis -105