In a much-anticipated move, the Memphis Grizzlies transferred Kenny Lofton Jr. to the Memphis Hustle on November 5th. He debuted for the Hustle a couple of days later as they traveled to Mexico to take on the Mexico City Capitanes. The 20-year-old led all players with 24 points as the Hustle grabbed a 111-101 victory to improve to 2-0 on the young season. He added eight rebounds and was an impressive 9/16 from the field in the win.
The 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward also turned heads late in the game as he posterized a defender with a spectacular throw-down.
If Kenny Lofton Jr. can continue to progress and play well while showing flashes like that dunk above the Memphis Hustle might set an attendance record later this season at the Landers Center. On top of his solid play offensively, he played well defensively, holding his own against the likes of Jahlil Okafor and Bruno Caboclo.
The Louisiana Tech standout signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies after going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft. After shining in Summer League play, many fans were curious how much Kenny Lofton Jr. might contribute in his rookie campaign. He has been a limited contributor for the Grizzlies early on this season, appearing in three contests before being transferred to the Hustle.
Improvements needed in Kenny Lofton Jr.’s game
On top of the need for earning more experience at the professional level, there are a couple of areas where Lofton Jr. needs to improve before making his potential return back to the Grizzlies. The most important, in my opinion, is his free-throw shooting. In his debut for the Hustle, he was 2-7 from the free-throw line. He hovered around the low-60 percent range from the line in his collegiate career. As a physical player who often finds himself inside the paint, it’s important that he improve in this area.
I believe the other area he could potentially improve at moving forward is extending his shooting range. At Louisiana Tech, he rarely took any threes. But as an undersized big, I think it’s of the utmost importance that he develops a consistent outside shot to be able to excel at the professional level. He was 2-6 from beyond the arc in his Hustle debut, which could be a good sign for Grizzlies fans who are clamoring for Lofton Jr. to stay with the team for years to come.
As a two-way contract player Lofton Jr. is limited to appearing in 50 games for the Grizzlies this season. It will be interesting to see if Lofton Jr. can play well enough at the G League level for the Grizzlies to consider converting his two-way contract into a fully guaranteed NBA deal before the playoffs begin.
Kenny Lofton Jr. and the Memphis Hustle will be back in action tomorrow night as they once again face off against the Mexico City Capitanes.