Ja Morant might be the biggest player in the high flying Grizzlies, but one other player has stood out this season, Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Grizzlies have perhaps been the biggest surprise this season. With a superstar point guard like Ja Morant leading a crop of great young players like Desmond Bane, Memphis have become a team to be feared with.
While Morant has been making all the headlines with his offensive displays, the Grizzlies have been impressive defensively as well. With a defensive rating of 108.9, the Western Conference giants are the 7th best team defensively. One of the primary reasons for the same has been the development of Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson, who came into the league 4 years ago initially showed offensive prowess and had the strength and length to truly become a unicorn.
While his offensive numbers haven’t taken a massive jump, he certainly has taken a leap defensively. Averaging career highs in blocks, rebounds and steals, the 6’10” forward is very well capable of defending all positions given his agility and length.
Jaren Jackson Jr. in DPOY contention?
JJJ might not be the first name when it comes to the Grizzlies, but there is no denying that the forward is probably having his best season in terms of impact.
Jaren Jackson Jr. this season:
— Leads NBA in blocks
— Leads NBA in block percentage
— 2nd in def. FG% (min 800 contests)
— 3rd among centers in 3pt contested
DPOY candidate. pic.twitter.com/FiAGk4VpHJ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 15, 2022
Averaging 2.2 blocks per game, the forward is tied with 3-time DPOY Rudy Gobert for highest number of blocks per game. Not only that, JJJ leads the league in blocks percentage and is the 2nd best defender in terms of allowed field goal percentage.
Even former Celtics’ big man Kendrick Perkins was all praises for the forward. In a recent appearance in ESPN, Perkins said, “He’s leading the league in total blocks… and yet this man doesn’t get credit. He is anchoring that defense like no other and has the ability to switch one through five. The way he’s protecting the basket, and he’s embraced that role.”
Given the number of stats Jaren Jackson is certainly leading in, JJJ is certainly one of the sleeper picks for the DPOY trophy. If the 23-year-old can maintain this consistency, the Grizzlies can be a real problem in the playoffs.