Jaren Jackson Jr. is a young, exciting player with the potential to be the franchise’s all-time best acquisition. However, it doesn’t erase from the fact that he has some battles ahead.
Earlier this week, I highlighted some of the matchups we’ll see with Jackson and other rookie studs. Those matchups will be fun, but his encounters with some of the league’s best big men will be fascinating to watch.
Jackson may be on the receiving end of some rough nights, but it’d be a learning experience for him. He’ll have the opportunity to measure out how he fares against the league’s elite big men. In the process, maybe he’ll take bits and pieces of their game to round out his game.
Which veteran big men will give Jackson the biggest tests? What matchups are the most intriguing?
Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Anthony Davis
Over the past year, Anthony Davis became the pinnacle of the “unicorn big man,” posting absurd numbers and separating himself from the rest of the members of this newfound elite category. It’s even scarier now that he’s reaching his prime.
Against Davis, Jackson may not see a lot of time against him, as the Grizzlies will probably put Marc Gasol on “The Brow”. However, if they do match up, it’ll be all about silver linings. Granted, he’ll probably get worked, because he’s going up against Anthony freakin’ Davis. Looking at a more positive perspective though, it’ll be a nice test to see how far along Jackson is in his development and if he can become a unicorn of Davis’ caliber.
Dates: Dec 7, Jan 7, Jan 21, Feb 9
Jaren Jackson vs. Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid and Jaren Jackson are quite similar. Off the court, they also both have infectious personality that make them so likable. On the court, both players are highly regarded for their incredible defensive instincts, as they’re both vicious shot-blockers that can also hound perimeter players in switch situations.
In addition, they’re still scratching the surface of their offensive game. On one hand, Embiid is more advanced in the post — garnering comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon — as he’s expanding his outside game. On the other hand, Jackson has a superb outside game and needs to improve his inside repertoire.
Like the Davis matchup, Gasol will probably see more minutes against Embiid. However, it’ll still be exciting to see where Jackson stands against one of the league’s best rim protectors.
Jaren Jackson vs. Draymond Green
What’s not to like about this matchup?
Michigan State products. Defensive Swiss-army knifes. Fiery, intense competitors. Draymond Green of the present vs. Draymond Green of the future.
Jackson has a lot of Draymond-like qualities that go far beyond college pedigree. Like Green, Jackson is a modern 5 that possesses “Defensive Player of the Year” upside and can protect the rim and guard any position 1-5. In addition, he has elite 3-point marksmanship for a big and has promising playmaking potential.
The Grizzlies-Warriors battles may not be pleasant, but this matchup will be a fascinating one to watch.
Dates: Nov 5, Dec 17, March 27, Apr 10
Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Zach Randolph
Of these four matchups, this battle is the one to watch.
One represents the past. He embodies the old-school, back-to-the-basket post game, relying on pure basketball instincts and toughness over athleticism. In addition, he was the turning point and the rock of the Grizzlies’ past success, ushering in an era of Memphis basketball that this city will never forgot.
The other represents the future. His game is perfectly suited for the modern NBA, possessing the ability to protect the rim, switch in the pick-and-roll, and space the floor. He’s also the Grizzlies’ hope for better days and for an era that could potentially, hopefulyl, surpass the franchise’s past success.
This matchup will be poetry for Grizzlies’ fans, as it’ll be an unofficial passing of the torch from one great Memphis big to a young prodigy.
Dates: October 24, December 21, January 25
Wow, this is going to be fun! Which veterans are you wanting Jaren Jackson Jr. to battle with? Comment your thoughts below.