How the Charlotte Hornets Match Up Against: The Memphis Grizzlies


Leading up to the start of the 2014 NBA season, Swarm and Sting will be pitting the Hornets head to head with every team in the Association every Tuesday and Thursday. In this edition, we match the Hornets up with the Memphis Grizzlies.

2013-14 Series:  Charlotte and Memphis split the series, 1-1.

Projected Starting Match-Ups:

PG:  Kemba Walker (17.7 PPG, 1.2 SPG, 6.1 APG) vs.  Mike Conley (17.2 PPG, 1.5 SPG, 6.0 APG)

Statistically speaking, these two point guards are nearly identical, with each category listed above being separated by just tenths of a point.  Mike Conley is a proficient defensive point guard with the ability to score over 17 PPG, which really provides Memphis a nice boost, given that they are mainly a defensive team.  Kemba Walker is a slightly better scorer, but not quite as stout of a defender, which just adds to the intrigue of these two playing against one another.  In the then-Bobcats’ win over Memphis last season, Kemba Walker soundly outplayed Mike Conley, outscoring him 31-16, while also grabbing 8 boards to Conley’s 5.  In Memphis’ series win, Conley outscored Walker 20-11, with both having nearly identical statlines outside of that.  Because of this, I’ll give the slight edge to Kemba Walker, although these two are very evenly matched.

ADVANTAGE:  Kemba Walker

Live Feed

2 ex-Grizzlies primed for big seasons in 2023-24
2 ex-Grizzlies primed for big seasons in 2023-24 /

Beale Street Bears

  • Dillon Brooks dishes on former Grizzlies teammate following World Cup finaleBeale Street Bears
  • NBA Trade Rumors: 1 Player from each team most likely to be traded in-seasonSir Charles In Charge
  • Dillon Brooks speaks out after beating former Grizzlies teammate in World CupBeale Street Bears
  • NBA Power Rankings: Tiering all 30 projected starting point guards for 2023-24Sir Charles In Charge
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. puts ex-Grizzlies teammate on noticeBeale Street Bears
  • SG:  Lance Stephenson (13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.6 APG) vs.  Courtney Lee (11.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.7 APG)

    Courtney Lee returns as Memphis’ starting shooting guard this year, while Lance will be making his debut in the Queen City.  Just looking at each player’s stats, it’s pretty easy to pick Lance Stephenson in this match-up.  The main thing that sticks out to me is the rebound discrepancy; while shooting guards aren’t normally expected to grab the most boards on the team, Lance Stephenson was exceptional in that category last year, and that just adds another element of his game that his opponents need to be aware of.  Stephenson’s transition play is also far superior to Lee’s, as Born Ready is one of the best in the league at both facilitating and defending the fast break.

    ADVANTAGE:  Lance Stephenson

    SF:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (7.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 APG) vs.  Tayshaun Prince (6.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.6 APG)

    This is a match-up of youth vs. experience, as third year forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will face off with seasoned veteran and former NBA champion Tayshaun Prince.  In his prime, Prince was one of the most athletic shooting guards I can remember seeing, specifically remembering his iconic block of Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Conference Playoffs.  Even in 2013, Prince delivered a memorable athletic display, dunking on three members of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the postseason.  Still, it’s 2014, and Prince isn’t quite the player he used to be.  Meanwhile, in Charlotte, this should be a big year for MKG, as he has spent the summer tweaking his jumpshot, while his defense should be as excellent as Hornets fans have come to expect.  I think MKG should take advantage of his own youth versus Prince’s age, and give Charlotte the advantage at small forward.

    ADVANTAGE:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    PF:  Cody Zeller (6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.5 BPG) vs.  Zach Randolph (17.4 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 0.3 BPG)

    *sigh* Poor Cody Zeller.  Zach Randolph is one of the premier power forwards in the NBA, a defensive powerhouse with scoring ability and a knack for grabbing rebounds.  Randolph’s age may start to creep up on him in the coming years, but he is still one half of one of the most dominant big-man sets in the NBA.  Zeller is still trying to find his footing in the NBA, and should take strides towards improvement this year, but he’s nowhere near ready to match up, defensively or offensively, with Z-Bo.

    ADVANTAGE:  Zach Randolph

    More from Hornets News

    C:  Al Jefferson (21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG)  vs.  Marc Gasol (14.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG)

    Despite the statistical discrepancy between the two, this is a very even match-up at center.  Marc Gasol is a fantastic centerpiece for the Grizzlies defense, and he teams with Zach Randolph as part of one of the most dominating tandems in the paint in the NBA.  However, offensively, Al Jefferson holds a strong advantage over Marc Gasol.  Jefferson’s offensive performance last year all but carried Charlotte to the postseason, and this year, with more help, he should be even more efficient in leading the Hornets to the NBA Playoffs.  Jefferson is good enough defensively to justify taking him in this match-up of two top-notch centers.

    ADVANTAGE:  Al Jefferson

    Key Reserves (Memphis):  Benoh Udrih, Tony Allen, Vince Carter, John Leuer, Kosta Koufos, Quincy Pondexter

    Key Reserves (Charlotte):  Gerald Henderson, Brian Roberts, Noah Vonleh, Marvin Williams, PJ Hairston, Bismack Biyambo.

    ADVANTAGE:  Charlotte.  The top three reserves for Memphis (Udrih, Allen, and Carter) are all recognizable names with experience, but the Charlotte bench just has that right blend of youth, experience, and overall talent.  I do love the addition of Vince Carter to the fold for Memphis, as he is still a productive veteran with a knack for big moments, but I just really like the Hornets’ bench better thanks to the amount of potential starters.  This isn’t a knock on the Hornets’ current starting line-up; it’s saying more about how deep the Hornets’ bench is, and how each player can contribute major minutes to give stars like Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, and Al Jefferson rest.  The Grizzlies don’t have that advantage, and that gives the Hornets a much better opportunity to win this series.

    Rookies (Memphis):  Jordan Adams

    Rookies (Charlotte):  Noah Vonleh, PJ Hairston

    ADVANTAGE:  Charlotte.  Memphis picked just before the Hornets’ second pick in this draft, and many fans (myself included) feared that the Grizzlies would take PJ Hairston just before he fell to Charlotte.  Instead, the Grizzlies opted to take Jordan Adams out of UCLA.  Adams is an athletic guard with good driving ability, but I’m still shocked they let Hairston fall to Charlotte, especially when the Grizzlies could definitely use a perimeter shooter off the bench.  The Hornets got Noah Vonleh as an absolute steal with their first pick, and Hairston shockingly fell to Charlotte for their second pick, which gave them one of the better draft hauls in the league.

    FINAL VERDICT:  Memphis has a dominating 4-5 combo in Randolph and Gasol, and if Zeller can hold his own and Jefferson can score his 20-30, I like the Hornets to win this series.  It may ultimately come down to the Walker-Conley match-up at point guard, as last year, the winning team’s guard had the better line in each game.  This will be a fun series to watch, as both teams are defensively sound, with explosive guards and entertaining big men.

    PREDICTION:  Charlotte sweeps the series, 2-0.

    Stats and depth charts are taken from