The Memphis Grizzlies begin a new era with the selection of Jaren Jackson Jr. Here’s how his addition should change their overall outlook in 2018-19.
The Memphis Grizzlies found themselves in the NBA Draft Lottery after a debacle of a 2017-18 season. Nineteen games into the regular season, the team decided to fire head coach David Fizdale after not even two full seasons in the job. A rift between Fizdale and veteran big man Marc Gasol was the ultimate reason and you can’t blame the front office there.
When it comes down to it, if the head coach and star player aren’t getting along, it’s time to make a change. In this case, the player was chosen over head coach as Fizdale became expendable. He’s since landed on his feet as the head coach of the New York Knicks.
Memphis ended up winning 15 more games without Fizdale. Granted, they were without Mike Conley Jr. for all but 12 regular season games. He underwent season-ending surgery on his Achilles’ heel that caused him to miss much of the season.
Without Conley, the Grizzlies had their fair share of backcourt players to try out, but as evidenced by the final result, they needed their floor general. Their floor general will return in 2018-19 but with a new weapon in the pick-and-roll game in rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson brings another solid frontcourt presence for Memphis alongside Marc Gasol.
Despite his youth, Memphis has no need to fret. As evidenced by his play in NBA Summer League, Jackson looks more than ready to play his part.
The acquisition of Jaren Jackson Jr. brings back memories of another player by the name of Jaren Jackson. His father, also named Jaren, played for 12 seasons in the league for nine different franchises. He played the most with the San Antonio Spurs, a squad he won an NBA championship with during the 1998-99 season.
Another Jackson hits the league running
The elder Jackson averaged 5.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists during his time in the league while shooting 35.3 percent from three-point range. While he brought a different style to the game, his offspring has taken a different path. Filled with some hype and a lot of expectations, the younger Jackson looks ready to set a new bar.
Jackson hit the ground running in his NBA Summer League debut in Utah, putting up 29 points on eight three-pointers against the Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies won the game easily while Jackson went 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from three-point land. Right away, the differences between his game and his fathers’ is strikingly apparent.
For starters, the elder Jackson stood at 6-foot-4 during his time in the NBA. Jackson Jr. stands at 6-foot-11. While his father was more of a role player, Jackson has star power written all over him.
The future Grizzlies’ prospect averaged 15.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per contest during his three appearances in Utah. Through his five appearances in Las Vegas, he put up 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game. He was named to Second Team All-Summer League for his play and should a solid force for the Memphis Grizzlies in the paint and beyond.
Versatility will take Jackson places
In an eight-game span, Jackson has shown a lot of his skill set, making him an early front-runner for the 2018 Rookie of the Year award. The Memphis front office will have high expectations for him, especially as a paint protector, entering the 2018-19 season.
Jackson averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.1 assists per game as a starter for the Michigan State Spartans in 2017-18. In his lone season with Michigan State, he showed tons of versatility on both ends. He’s got handles, an outside shot, and inside presence all at the height of 6-foot-11.
His upside is something that should have the Memphis Grizzlies salivating, especially with veterans like Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol helping him along. Grit and Grind will have a completely new look in 2018-19, but with Jackson in the middle, Grizzlies fans have something to smile about.