So far this season Jaren Jackson Jr. has been exactly what the Grizzlies have wanted from their number four overall pick in the 2018 Draft. The stage was set for him early on after JaMychal Green suffered a broken jaw in just the second game of the season. After this unfortunate injury, Jackson had to step up and was entered into the starting lineup. He has taken this opportunity to show why he will be considered as one of the best rookies of this draft class.
Through the first six games of the season, Jackson is averaging 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. It is a more than solid start to this rookie campaign, showing promise for even more to come.
The one part of his offensive game that sticks out is the way he works down low in the paint. When he is fed the ball down on the block, he has the awareness to know where he is on the court while also understanding which move works for him best in that situation. It is the reason why he has been such an efficient offensive player as well. His field goal percentage is 46.3%, which gives a good indication that Jackson does not try to do too much when he puts up a shot. He recognizes the value he brings on offense.
In particular, there is one move that has become a staple of his throughout his career. It is the move where Jackson starts by taking his man from the top of the key or facing up to him outside the block. He then attacks on a left-handed dribble drive until close enough to the basket to spin on the defender and put up his shot. This clip from his Michigan State days shows how dangerous this move can be on a helpless defender.
We have seen Jackson take this move and implement it into his offensive arsenal with the Grizzlies. The precision he has taking defenders on a baseline drive while knowing exactly what he wants to do with it is incredibly impressive. It is a perfect finesse move that could translate from college right over to the NBA.
In both of these plays, the side of the court was cleared out for JJJ to do work on his defender. Nemanja Bjelica and Marvin Bagley III were taken for the spin cycle as Jackson made his way for a good shot. Exploiting this on offense should be a huge priority for the Grizzlies.
As this is a reliable part of Jackson’s offensive game, it could bring some concern about how often this move is used. After looking at Jackson’s made two-point baskets in one-on-one situations, Jackson used his spin hook 6 out of 12 times. This sample set was solely based off of non-transition or offensive rebound type scenarios. Fifty percent of the time when Jaren Jackson has a single defender on him he will go to his spin move around the rim.
Now, this is not a huge issue because two points is two points, but it is worth noting the repetition of this move will likely be noticed by defenders across the league. Seeing him go to his left could tip a scouting department and opposing defense that a spin is coming from him. However, as seen in the multiple clips, the reason it works so well is that the defender is caught off balance when Jackson attacks thwarting any effort to predict his move ahead of time.
It is important to understand that this post move is the reason Jaren is already effective at such a young agoe and one of the best rookies in the league. Adding to what he already has will bring his game to the next level. There are even more chances to improve other aspects of his inside game.
In this clip, we see how Jackson can get physical as he bodies up Derrick Favors on the block. He demands the ball and powers through instead of a away from the basket shot. This combination will keep defenders guessing to which post move he will go with.
The physical style of post play is something that Jackson will have to work on as he continues to get older and put on size. This clip shows that he can do it, but if he can balance the two out, that would be ideal. Jackson is still young, and on the slimmer side of things, to where his finesse game has him falling away from the basket.
The Grizzlies and Coach Bickerstaff will have to integrate JJJ into this offense more. If they can isolate him with his man clearing out one side, Jackson should be able to create his own shot or find an opener shooter if the defense collapses. This signature move needs to be exploited more for the Memphis offense.
Jaren Jackson will have to continue to develop these two styles of post play. The finesse hook shot is his staple that he can always fall back on, but that combined with a strong, physical to-the-rim move will be a perfect one-two punch for any defenders that have to face him straight up.
The Grizzlies have found something in Jaren Jackson Jr. He already is impressing people six games into the season. The sky is the limit for this young rookie.