• Brendan Smart

Featuring Jaren Jackson Jr., Late In Games Could Save Memphis

Yahoo! Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies are having a bounce back season for the ages. That’s thanks largely in part to getting rid of several guys from last season, adding veterans this offseason and not relying on a draft pick to define their offseason.

While the fourth pick in the NBA Draft brought in a special piece for Memphis’ future, the Grizzlies remain in “win now” mode. With their two horses Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, Memphis remains desperate to push for the playoffs before their two cornerstone player’s windows close.

While Mike and Marc are aging, 19 year old Jaren Jackson Jr., is learning all about winning at the professional level. 20 games into the Grizzlies 2018-19 season, (just like several teams in the NBA) fans are demanding oncourt changes. For Memphis, the usage of Triple-J, and over usage of Mike Conley, is what bugs the fan base.

While first year head coach J.B. Bickerstaff seems to have Gasol and Conley happy in Memphis through this three game skid, I think that it is time that we discuss the elephant in the room. The elephant that is a Mike and Marc screen and roll/pop coming down the stretch of every fourth quarter like clockwork.

While it is the Grizzlies most efficient offense right now, Memphis has to find other sources of offense. Jaren Jackson’s usage rate is in the 79th percentile right now and just recently started seeing late game minutes from this Grizzlies coaching staff. While Jackson Jr. shares the brunt of the blame in a lot of such situations due to foul trouble, his coaching staff hasn’t helped either.

A coaching staff full of former players who grew in the NBA has me baffled over his usage on the offensive end of the floor. While Jaren is only 19, he has exceeded everyone’s expectations for his rookie season, so as a coach. Why not keep pushing his ceiling for year one? What’s stopping the coaching staff from featuring Jackson Jr. and Conley in the screen and roll/pop action in Memphis’ half court sets?

Jackson Jr. is currently shooting 35 percent from the three point line, and is a proven three point shooting big man. Memphis could destroy opposing defenses by featuring Jaren in those sets, taking the pressure off of Mike and Marc coming down the stretch of these games.

Not to mention I haven’t seen a big man run from one end of the floor to the center of the basket and have their defender pinned only to get passed on by their teammates like Jackson Jr. does.

Memphis looks to end a three game losing streak against the Brooklyn Nets tonight on the road. In order for Memphis to find themselves again, it will take more action from Jackson Jr. and easing the workload off of Conley. Memphis has had the last two days off so look for a more energized Grizzlies squad as they look to get back on the winners list in Brooklyn.

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