Amidst a long-lasting recovery period from his torn left meniscus, Jaren Jackson Jr. has been sidelined since August.

However, much to the delight of Grizzlies fans, his return is iimminent. In fact, it could be sooner than soon! Potentially as early as tonight 👀

His status has now been upgraded to questionable ahead of their bout on the road with the Clippers set for Wednesday night.

What Does it Mean?

The highly-touted and extremely versatile big man will allow the budding Grizzlies to operate at near full health for the first time all season.

With the 2018 4th overall pick now back in the fold, they also pose a legitimate threat amongst the play-in tier of teams in the Western Conference.

As it stands, here’s where they are:

Essentially boxed into this foursome with no true mobility past here, it’s all a matter of who they’ll face in the aforementioned NBA Play-In Tournament.

They also currently have the 26th “easiest” remaining schedule, according to tankathon.com, as they have 16 games left. Also, their remaining opponents have a combined win percentage of just 46.4%, meaning that they have a “red carpet” of sorts rolled out for them to not only solidify their current position, but to reintegrate JJJ, re-establish his chemistry, and allow for him to knock off the rust in a less stressful manor.

What Does He Bring?

17.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG with 1.6 BPG – 46.9/39.4/74.7.

The 6’11 21 year old Michigan State product brings fun back to Memphis. Ja Morant does a lot of this on his own, but his partner in crime is the other half that gives the Grizzlies such a bright future.

The Grizzlies have now put together a compilation of big men that can allow for JJJ to spend a majority of his court time at the 4, which is where he’s most effective.

Defensively

Reliable and consistent rim protection as well as switchability and versatility. JJJ will average at least a block and a steal on his career when it’s all said and done, a testament to his potential on that end.

Last season, he was in the 93rd percentile defensively amongst big men.

He has a lengthy wingspan and ever-active hands that he uses to dislodge dribbles, disrupt timing in the passing lanes and in dribble-handoff action, and great foot speed/footwork that all allow for him to force a lot of turnovers.

He was in the 93rd percentile for defensive possessions where he was directly involved that ended in turnovers.

He does have “issues” in the rebounding department. However, the Grizzlies have helped to surround him with capable rebounders in Valanciunas, Clarke, as well as former Spartan and teammate Xavier Tillman Sr.

As a team, the Grizzlies have faired well sans JJJ. They hold the 8th most effective defense in the league at the moment and force turnovers at the 5th best rate.

Offensively

He has established the dynamic of being effective both as a perimeter-oriented bigman, but has not lost touch with his feel for scoring at the basket.

Jackson Jr’s 2019-2020 shot cHart, per Cleaning the Glass

Last season, he shot 40 both above the break (84th percentile) as well as from deep overall (87th percentile). He also shot 39% from the corners which was good for 62nd percentile placing.

His sophomore year, he was also in the 74th percentile as a roll man (in pick and roll), averaging 1.24 points per possession.

He also registered 0.84 points per possession (on a 12.4% frequency of post touches), a mark that many bigs with a much higher volume failed to reach.

Though Valanciunas is on the mend at the moment, they’ll be looking at a more traditional lineup deployed to start and finish games. Though Jackson Jr. Is very much a modern big, his status and frame still suggest this lineup being deemed “traditional.”

In Conclusion

Jackson Jr. received pre-draft comparisons to Anthony Davis, and there is certainly credence there.

JJJ has a similar stature but past that, the physical attributes in lateral mobility, and athleticism are what make him such a bright young star.

Those, combined with his skillset and feel for the game give the Grizzlies a bright future to look forward to as he returns to the lineup.

With him back, I reserve thought that they can make it out of the Play-In tournament and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Where he will need to show more poise is in aging without fouling. He’s posted league-low ranks there in both of his first two seasons.

One final reason I am confident that he will be great and will help bring Memphis back to contending status is his relationship with Kevin Garnett.

Continued mentorship under the great KG will allow for JJJ to be as great as he truly wants to be.

The dynamic that will allow for this team to take the next step in their growth directly involved both he and Morant, in tandem.

Should they develop the necessary synergy in co-existence, they will become a relevant cog in the West and could see a jump in their ascension process similar to Denver with Jokic and Murray. Both these two, as well as their surrounding pieces, need to continue growing toward their individual potential, but the opportunity is certainly there.

The Grizzlies take on the Clippers tonight on NBA TV at 9pm CST.

Let’s hope Jackson Jr is in the lineup tonight 👀🙏🏾

*All stats and information used come directly from basketball-reference, cleaningtheglass, or nba-stats unless stated otherwise*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s