Those who watched the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies first round series evaluated the Beatles’ Revolution No. 9. Some consider it to be one of the highest forms of entertainment that man can consume, an exquisite excellence in the midst of absolute chaos. For others, it’s a bunch of haphazardly woven noise for no purpose other than to make the experience of the finished product as humanly as possible as unpleasant.
No matter how people expect the series (or songs), Grizzlies vs. One of the Timberwolves was dizzy and squeaking, which was Jaren Jackson Jr. tainting everyone under his arm’s reach. His foul total for each game is 5, 4, 5, 6, 6, 5. One of the sport’s most impressive young athletes couldn’t stay on the floor. When not fouling, he’s actually one of the best defenders in the NBA and is also one of the main options in the Grizzlies’ offense.
It might be logical to assume that the championship-experienced Golden State Warriors could exploit Jackson’s hacking tendencies and put him on the bench on a foul issue, but that hasn’t happened consistently. Jackson fouled in Game 2, but scored a total of three fouls in games 1 and 3. Without Ja Morant in Game 4 — Whose The postseason will likely end with a knee injury. Jackson had five fouls, but threw in 21 points and blocked five shots.
For all the talk of the Grizzlies’ 20-5 record during the regular season without Morant, they were able to keep the score close without Morant on Monday night, but actually had 14 goals available. The end of the game was great 101-98, but at halftime the Grizzlies led 41-38. A score commonly seen in playoff games involving Ben Wallace or Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets era.
Jackson was trying to be the Grizzlies’ Draymond Green in that match. His four-seam fastball arc didn’t drop the three shots, but he did throw a foul and score near the post, giving the team every chance to tie the series with Wednesday’s home game 5. . In the postseason, Jackson averaged 15.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 2.4 blocks.
The logical question to ask about Grizzlies isn’t whether they’d be better without Morant. Who needs a much more consistent defense to be spectacular, while what should the supporting cast look like around this young superstar? Do you need to find a second star, or do you need to develop talents you already have and make them bloom together? For the latter to be true, it means that Jackson must be an A.E-Star level player.
Desmond Bane has a revelation this season. He’s a solid guard who doubled his defense and average points per game from 9.2 to 18.2 points and has a three-pointer percentage of over 43% for the second season in a row. That’s the type of shooting you need to pair up with Morant in the backcourt, but it’s not great for that roster, but you need someone else who’s explosive who offers great size.
In the 2018 NBA Draft Combine, Jackson was only 6 feet 8 inches tall with no shoes on. His wingspan is 7 feet 5 inches and he can move his feet like a guard. Jackson has the potential to be the best defender in the NBA, and he showed all his talent in Game 4 against the Warriors in 33 minutes. Jackson could one day, like Deion Sanders, declare through his play that either side of the court he defends is a no-fly zone.
However, when attacking, Jackson still needs some work. He should be able to keep shooting the ball like a squib kick, and he should have a high percentage of those shots. In the playoffs, he has a 37.3% 3-point percentage. Against the Warriors, he made two great three-point shootouts in games 1 and 3, but added 2-14 in the other two games. He is also shooting under 40% on the field for the playoffs.
This is where he will help consistently on the court. It would have been easier for him to get into the scoring rhythm if he hadn’t always been away for extended periods of time due to foul trouble. He pitched 45% from the field during his career, but this season he has shot 41% and of course solved a lot of foul issues. He and his team have a bright future, but that’s not the case when he spends most of his games on warm-up gear.
Grizzlies’ roster needs some tweaking, but it’s very close to championship competition. Either they win the next three games without Morant, or they are most likely to be eliminated as the 2021-22 season, which takes place in last season’s play-in tournament and picks up the number two seed, has been a remarkable success. One of the biggest changes this season is that Jackson has made 78 appearances in 11 of the regular season games this season. As Morant improved, the Grizzlies didn’t make the jump from last season to this season without Jackson’s absence.
There’s nothing quite like taking the Grizzlies to the top of the NBA for the first time in franchise history than Jackson’s step forward as a player. During the offseason he will have to add some movement to the attacking game to make better shots for himself, but most often he will have to foul much less often. He’ll have to train one-on-one defensively with Morant all summer and put his hands behind his back when he’s healthy. No team can consistently win with the best players on the bench. It’s all about Morant and his health, and certainly Jackson and himself. If Jackson only makes adjustments next season, the Grizzlies won’t have to look for number 2 anymore instead of number 13.