As an NBA fan, I love the amount of coverage the league gets no matter what time of year it is. As a Memphis Grizzlies fan, I hate how little exposure our team gets, even in the 7 year playoff run.
It did not matter how many games we won or were expected to win, the national games were going to the teams that had the marketable players, not just the market. Oklahoma City is a small market, but because they had Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and now Russ and Paul George, people wanted to watch.
Look at baseball. The Los Angeles Angels have the best player on the planet, but because he has limited personality, it is hard to push the Angels. Who do people want to see? Bryce Harper. It used to be Manny Ramirez and the phrase “Manny being Manny.”
The last player with a sense of personality that the Grizzlies had was Tony Allen, but his was more of “he’s kinda crazy” than a goofy, lovable teddy bear type. Mike Conley is a great ambassador for the franchise but not marketable. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were the Bash Bros but still not very marketable.
Other guys like Rudy Gay or OJ Mayo didn't quite seem to have that kind of vibe about them.
Enter Jaren Jackson Jr.
Despite being the fourth pick in last year’s NBA Draft and being in Memphis, the NBA and others have seen his fun loving personality and put it to use. He has sat in with Candace Parker and others during the NBA Playoffs. He was on Area 51 with Kevin Garnett on TNT.
ESPN’s The Jump had him on during the NBA Finals:
Jaren interviewed Fred Van Vleet:
Fred VanVleet With Jaren Jackson Jr. Media Day
"Always wanting to prove ourselves...and that's something I'm able to carry with me." Listen in as Fred VanVleet checks in with Jaren Jackson Jr. at the #NBAFinals presented by YouTube TV Media Day! : Game 5 - Tuesday, 11 June : Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Toronto Raptors (3) ⏰: 11:00am AEST : ESPN Australia / NZ : NBA League Pass - http://bit.ly/2IaT4MNPosted by NBA Australia on Sunday, June 9, 2019
...and Draymond Green:
Draymond Green Sits Down With Jaren Jackson Jr. #NBAFinals
“How can I be the best that I can be and [my son] watch?” Listen in as Draymond Green sits down with Jaren Jackson Jr. to share the story of who inspires him most. : Game 4 : Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Golden State Warriors (1) ⏰: 9pm/et : #NBAonABC : TSNPosted by NBA on Friday, June 7, 2019
Tell me the last Memphis Grizzlies player that has had this kind of exposure while a member of the franchise. I’ll wait....
They could have picked any player from any of the remaining 28 teams in the league, but on multiple occasions, its been our guy.
I remember meeting him for the first time during a pregame shoot around, and I asked him for a photo. He said hold on and ran over to Mike Conley asking if he was allowed to do it. He jogged back over and we shared a laugh. Everything with him is fun. No matter what it is.
Not only does he have fun playing the sport of basketball, he's dang good at it. There are plenty of funny, great personality guys in the league. Very few of them are destined to be great. Jaren Jackson Jr. could be headed towards being the best player to ever play for this franchise.
Jaren is perhaps the most untouchable player in trade talks this franchise has ever possessed. And it goes well beyond his talent on the floor. The more Jaren improves will certainly benefit this team as far as attracting free agents, but how endearing he has become to fans will also help to put butts in seats.
Just look at the Cleveland Cavaliers every year they don't have LeBron James on the roster. No one is really that interested in them. There isn't much to be excited about.
The front office all but confirmed that the franchise is running head first into a rebuild at the press conference introducing Taylor Jenkins as head coach. Rebuilds typically equal empty seats, but with Jaren Jackson Jr. there is still hope for exciting games in a full FedExForum.
If this rebuild was around Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson and say you ended up with Wendell Carter or Mo Bamba last year, it would be a lean few years on Beale Street, especially with the exciting basketball the local college team is about to produce.
But Memphis now has a young player that isn't just great on the floor, but off the floor too. This is something the franchise has always lacked. Mike Conley was also a number four pick in the draft, but he wasn't Kevin Durant and the Grizzlies had yet to be relevant.
Jaren has the chance to take this team to levels it has never seen before. His national TV exposure will only benefit the Grizzlies. The more he can be marketed, the better. The more the Grizzlies are on national TV, the better.
Maybe dropping to four in last year’s lottery was actually winning the lottery for Memphis.