The 2019-20 Memphis Grizzlies Media day is now in the rear view mirror. The season is beginning to ramp up with team leaders around the league already putting together what has become annual pre-training camp sessions in remote locations to get a head start on team bonding and chemistry. What has also surfaced are reports that the Grizzlies players who were already in town are getting along extremely well, according to Tyus Jones.
That's great to hear, but one has to question if that conclusion included Josh Jackson. Recently Mike Wallace of Grind City Media reported that the Grizzlies organization & Josh Jackson agreed that he would begin the season in the G-League.
On media day, Zach Kleiman spoke with Grizzlies media & stated that he sat down with Josh recently & laid out a redemption plan of sorts for Josh to complete that starts with him earning his way on to the roster with the trip beginning with the Memphis Hustle. Some of us begin to wonder exactly how often if ever, have we seen a player with career averages of roughly 12 points, four rebounds & two assists per game sent to the G-League only 2 years after being selected fifth overall? This may be a first in NBA history, but the devil lies in the details.
The first level of detail lies within legal issues dealing with Josh. I wont get into those too much but he reminds me of Zach Randolph in several ways - hopefully the outcomes are similar as well. Another issue I haven't heard people speak much of is that Josh is also still rehabbing an injury that had him in a walking boot on his left foot just a month or so ago. This may be another factor in his G-League stint. Another level of detail is on court efficiency, which is something Josh has struggled with especially as a shooter.
Josh has shot only 65% from the charity stripe, which isn't DeAndre Jordan bad, but certainly along equivalent lines for his position. The fact he has shot under 30% from downtown for his career only makes matters more cringe worthy. His career field goal percentage isn’t terrible at roughly 42% from the field but one would like to see his effective & two-point field goal percentages rise from their 45% & 46% respective marks.
Just from reading the metrics one can see that Josh approaches each game determined to score buckets - good, bad or ugly. His effective field goal & two-point percentages suggests he needs to work on improving his finishing around the rim & more importantly his shot selection along with mid & long range shooting.
Now with that said one must state that Josh has yet to play with any sort of traditional point guard in his two year career, aside from a few games played with Elfrid Payton who joined the Phoenix Suns for the last 30 or so games of Jackson's rookie season. Add that with the coaching carousel the suns have had & their has been virtually no system in place to provide offensive structure, let alone efficient shot selection. Playing alongside Devin “The Shot” Booker, could only urge one to take any shot they get a half decent look at.
Despite the efficiency & other troubles, Josh has a reputation of giving total effort on both offense & defense when he's on the court. He actually gets after it all over the floor, So one can argue that Josh's basketball IQ can use a lot more growth & savy investment.
The thing with Josh is that his off court issues have been more detrimental than his lack of efficiency & basketball IQ at least to some degree, which is very similar to Zach Randolph early on in his career. Like Zach, Josh seems to be a gluten for trouble early in his career, despite not being a very vocal guy at face value.
It's not the mouth. but the actions with these two guys early on. Jackson's troubles, like Zach, begin even before the NBA although one can argue Zach's issues were mostly a result of being negatively influenced & his association with "Hoops Family" early in his career. Zach was tied to the streets & we saw the effects of it at times whereas Josh seems to be more of a poor decision maker.
On the flip side Zach was more than a punch out artist. Zach had lowered his value to the point Chris Wallace was able to get Randolph from the LA Clippers for a drink voucher at the Peabody rooftop parties. Ditto for Josh Jackson but hell Phoenix gave up a pair up licks to unload Josh, if there was ever a time to say "well DAMN!" in your Gucci Mane voice, that would be it.
Like Zach Randolph, Josh has also shown "Alpha Dog" potential, meaning they have the ability to rally their teammates & propel them to victory even at the expense of carrying the team. Since high school Josh has been deemed a leader maybe even more so than Zach early on. Josh can be just as strong mentally in certain ways as he is immature in other areas.
One example of such is how his new family with the Grizzlies already speak highly of him as well as their expectations for him, so much so that they sent him down to the Memphis Hustle so that he can totally earn his respect & place within such a young team also in need of at least one gritty leader.
Simply put, if Josh kicks ass in Southaven & keeps his nose clean, he can very well prove his focus & allow the team to focus on harnessing the talent that lead to Josh being ranked the #1 player in the nation coming out of high school just three years ago & be the kid some draft experts predicted to be THE best player in a draft that boasts talents like Jayson Tatum & De'Aaron Fox.
Most successful teams have a "Bad Boy" somewhere on the team. In this case our residential "Bad Boy" also has the potential to be a top level NBA player.
His first step is nothing short of elite explosive.
At 6'8 his size & length are a huge advantage when you also factor in his level of run, jump & agility.
He has elite one man fast break potential
Josh has the skill to be a secondary ball handler if he tightens the handle & reads the court more before shooting. Coincidentally, something Zach was also accused of early on but moreso as a post scorer where many labeled Z-Bo a black hole offensivley early on. It also can be a sign of assertiveness & alpha dog leadership which is what it ended up being for Zach. Many experts are quoted saying they see the same in Jackson.
Only time will tell how it all works out but Josh could very well rise to the challenge of conquering the G-League assignment & thus gain favor throughout the organization, enough so that he becomes one of the most respected voice amongst the entire roster in time, much like Zach.
Folks respect overcoming adversity and are willing to give second chances. In Josh's case being rightfully demoted to the minors in front of the entire world, who in turn had his name trending on social media in humiliating fashion, could be the tipping point. For Josh to focus in & rise above it all from literally ground zero & exceedingly thrive in your on court production as well? Yeah that's the recipe to becoming a contributor among this very talented core group.
A story made for Memphis.