Since the Memphis Grizzlies traded for Josh Jackson, we haven’t known what to expect. For one, there was been very little buzz from the organization about him since the acquisition. Secondly, he has the pedigree of an elite prospect, as he’s a former McDonald’s All-American and was the #4 overall pick two years ago.
Why hasn’t he panned out yet? Was it just a scenery issue? Or is he not who everyone thought he was?
I caught up with Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) of SB Nation’s “Bright Side of the Sun” to talk about the Grizzlies’ newest wing, diving into why he hasn’t panned out and if there’s any hope in him becoming a useful piece for this team.
1) The Suns attached good assets next to Josh Jackson like he was a bad contract, even though he was the #4 overall pick two years ago. Was he really that bad, or was this just a foolish move by the Suns FO?
Let’s set the record straight here: Giving up an asset was the only way to trade Josh Jackson. The only issue you can take with this deal is that the Suns chose to give up on Melton and a second-round pick (and take back Kyle Korver’s salary) rather than just stretching Jackson. This allowed them to keep their books clean, but they lost good assets, as you noted. Nothing else is a problem here. Trading him was the right thing to do.
Jackson was one of the worst players in the NBA during his first two seasons and showed very little growth outside of improved three-point shooting over the second half of last season. He was really that bad.
2) What are his major flaws that have labeled him a “bust” at this point?
As sympathetic as I am to the challenges of growing as a player and person amid the chaos and drama in Phoenix annually, Josh Jackson entered the league as someone who analysts thought could be a premier role player a la Andre Iguodala. Instead, Jackson became a high-volume scorer whose efficiency would make Jordan Clarkson giggle. His turnovers were ghastly, he couldn’t finish at the rim, and he has half of a season’s worth of evidence that he can shoot 3s.
Add in the fact he had two brush-ups with the law this summer alone and it’s a long road back to trust in him as a person and player for the Grizzlies staff.
3) Is there anything of value he adds to a NBA team right now? Could he eventually become a quality player in this league?
His individual defense can be a positive at times. Diehard Grizzlies fans may remember a game in late 2017-18 in which Jackson defended Marc Gasol in a game the Suns eventually won at home. Other examples include a massive night against close friend Draymond Green that same season and a few strong performances in limited minutes after Kelly Oubre Jr. was acquired by the Suns this past year. If he can limit his role, focus on defense and slashing, he has a path back to being a rotation player. Right now, it’s hard to imagine him being an above-average starter.
4) What do you think of his fit next to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant?
Unless he can prove his shooting or playmaking are legit NBA skills, Jackson shouldn’t be playing with Morant. The Grizzlies’ roster is obviously not something I’ve studied extensively, but Memphis would do better to give those opportunities to guys like Melton, Brandon Clarke and Dillon Brooks. Playing Jackson should be a last resort until he shows the organization he deserves it.
Thank you, Brendon, for catching up with us and talking to us about the one of the many new additions for this Grizzlies team. Give him a follow on Twitter, @BrendonKleen14, for the best Suns content on the web.