We all remember how much of a disappointment the Memphis Grizzlies were last season. We saw a healthy team that made the second round of the playoffs turn into an injury-plagued team that finished thirteenth in the western conference. Of course it was disappointing, as a Grizzlies fan or NBA fan to see such a talented team go down like that because of injuries.
Sure, Marc Gasol is playing great basketball, and is shooting threes at a high percentage. Sure, Mike Conley is proving not to be a draft bust or an overpaid player. But one of the most impressive things this season- something that can turn the Grizzlies into a serious contender is rookie Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson was picked fourth overall, one pick behind Luka Doncic of the Mavericks, and he’s playing even better than expected. Coming into this season, it was an exciting future for Memphis because their core players became healthy once more, but also because their new lottery pick rookie in Jackson was expected to help them out. Especially since Memphis was in need of a solid power forward.
Jackson is already being talked about as one of the best defenders in the league: With an average of 2.1 BPG, only Pau Gasol averaged more blocks than Jackson as a Grizzlies rookie. And of course, that in itself is a huge accomplishment, as Pau Gasol was an all-star in Memphis. Another reason to backup Jackson’s case of being the best rookie in Grizzlies history has been his scoring: Jackson has been scoring at will for his squad, averaging 14 PPG. Only four other Grizzlies players have averaged more points than that as rookies.
Jackson is not only just averaging great numbers, but he’s been putting them up on a consistent basis. The starting power forward has had a couple notable games this week, such as his 7 block game against the Knicks. Another impressive recent game was his 36 point game against the Nets last Friday.
When you watch him play, the great energy and willingness to play as hard as he can is really showing how much potential that Jackson Jr really has. It at first seemed like a bit of a risk, picking him fourth overall because of his previous health issues. However, Jackson has proved that he can be at top-notch defender in this league. While his offence hasn’t completely evolved, Jackson has had some highlights, similar to his 36 point game against Brooklyn.
There is no doubt that he’ll one day be a premier two-way power forward in the league.