2019-20 Breakout Player Series: Jaren Jackson Jr.
The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, Jaren Jackson Jr proved himself worthy of the hype in his rookie season. In 58 games, Jaren shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 35.9 percent from three on 2.4 attempts per game. JJJ averaged 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game.
Jackson Jr. initially joined a team full of veteran leaders. With Marc Gasol and Mike Conley both out of town, however, the New Jersey native is now an important pillar in Memphis’ new youth movement. Paired with rookie Ja Morant, JJJ and the Grizzlies have an exciting rebuilding project underway.
As a sophomore, Jackson Jr. will have an excellent opportunity to develop and take the next steps in making a name for himself. The 6-foot-11 big man showed right away last season that he can contribute on both ends of the floor. Last November, he averaged 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 43.2 percent from deep on 2.5 tries per contest.
Memphis doesn’t need to focus on winning this season, but another hot start out of the gate would be a great sign for JJJ. Defensively and offensively, expect Jackson to improve. He has real tools and potential on both sides of the court.
Jackson needs to become more consistent, however, but this will come with time. He doesn’t turn 21 until next September. The fleet-footed big man will also need to prove he can stay healthy - he missed 24 games last season.
There will be a lot of pressure on new Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins to showcase Jaren’s talent. Still, Jenkins should feel confident in his young big man and his capabilities while he lets Jackson really show the league what he can do and that the sky is the limit for him.
2019-2020 Stat line Predictions: 17.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks on shooting splits of 52/36/78 (FG%/3PT%/FT%).