The Memphis Grizzlies are getting some frontcourt reinforcements soon, as big man Jaren Jackson Jr. is expected to make his season debut on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, per Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.
Jackson had surgery in June to repair a stress fracture in his foot and has been recovering since then. Adding him to a Memphis team that is already off to a 9-5 start will only improve this team, but given that Jackson hasn’t had any real game action since last season’s playoffs, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take some time to get re-acclimated.
The last time we saw Jackson, he was averaging 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and a league-leading 2.3 blocks per game. He’s one of the best defensive big men in the league, and finished last season as a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, as well as being named to the All-Defensive First Team. The Grizzlies are just better on defense with Jackson on the floor, as they allow 4.8 fewer points when he’s on the floor. If there’s one knock on Jackson’s defensive game, it’s his knack for racking up fouls, which can hurt the Grizzlies when he has to sit for large portions of the game. But being just 22 years old, and entering just his fifth season, he’s bound to improve in that area.
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On offense, Jackson can score around the rim as well as the mid-range and while he struggled last season in making his 3-pointers consistently, he’s shown in the past that he can be reliable from beyond the arc as well. You combine all that together and it gives the Grizzlies another versatile scoring threat.
Given Jackson’s injury history, Memphis will likely be cautious with him out of the gates. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him on a minutes restriction until he’s fully knocked off the rust, but having him ready to suit up again will only help Memphis improve upon its early season success.