After an underrated rookie year and breakout sophomore season as Ja Morant’s primary running mate, Memphis Grizzlies forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr. was forced to watch his team from the sidelines for all of 2020-21 after tearing his meniscus in the Orlando bubble.
The Grizzlies have been functioning alright without him, but are absolutely fighting for their lives this late in the season (29-27), treading water above .500 and in a dogfight at the bottom of the Western Conference’s playoff picture. With only 16 games left in the season, and the 8th seed no longer secure this year with the play-in tournament, Memphis is desperately hoping for some sort of pick-me-up as they head towards the finish line.
Well, it’s all going to be okay, Memphis. The cavalry is coming. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will make his season debut tonight vs. the Clippers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 22, 2021
Jackson was part of one of the league’s most underrated one-two punches last year, as the sweet shooting big to Ja Morant’s explosive drives into the lane. Through just two seasons in the league, he is already shooting 48% from the field (38% from three) for his career, with startlingly good efficiency (16.3 career PER). Add to that his incredible height (6’11) and wingspan, Jackson will add a unique aspect to this offense that they’ve been missing from their bigs. Throw in nearly two blocks per game, and the Grizzlies will be getting a solid two-way player back.
This game and matchup are both great for Jackson to get back in the game, too. The Clippers are missing a true lead big, and Serge Ibaka is old and ailing. Jackson will get to test himself against a top seeded team without being too challenged at his position. We’ll see what he and the Grizzlies are able to do.