In the final part of the three-part series, we are going to stay in the western conference and close out the series discussing the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last season the Memphis Grizzlies closed out the most successful chapter of their franchise's history. The glorious successful era of “grit and grind” was officially over.
By midseason they traded All-NBA former defensive player of the year Marc Gasol to Toronto, and Gasol proved to be the last key piece the Raptors needed to win a championship.
Gasol had grown and developed in the organization and became the backbone for those 50 plus win Grizzlies teams.
Mike Conley Jr. the skilled crafty point guard was the last piece that remained. After being awarded the number two pick in the draft, and with the Grizzlies drafting point guard sensation Ja Morant Conley’s days in a Grizzles uniform would officially be over.
Conley was traded to Utah, and now the “grit and grind” chapter was closed. With some luck in the draft lottery and the draft the future definitely looks bright in Memphis.
In the 2018 NBA Draft with the fourth pick, the Grizzlies selected the uber skilled and versatile big man from Michigan State Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson is another young player who has NBA pedigree, with his father Jaren Jackson Sr. playing in the league. His father was a starter and key contributor to one of San Antonio Spurs championship teams.
Jackson Jr. possesses an array of skills that will allow him to dominate on both ends of the floor. His offensive game is a perfect blend of inside and outside which is conducive for today's NBA game.
He can step out and shoot the three, and if you run at him he can skillfully put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He also can post and already has the ability to shoot a jump hook with either hand affectively.
Jackson is listed at 6’11” with a 7’4” wingspan. His wingspan and his natural instincts makes him a great rim protector. He can move his feet in the pick n roll allowing him to handle switches on to guards, and wing players well.
Jackson definitely has generational talent on the defensive end and has the potential to win numerous defensive player of the year awards.
Unfortunately Jackson’s rookie season would be cut short due to injury. In late February he suffered a deep bruise to his thigh. The Grizzlies decided on airing on the side of caution and shut him down for the rest of the season.
With Gasol already traded, and Conley missing games down the stretch the team finished the season with a record of 33-49 which was good for 12th in the western conference.
This put the franchise in the lottery for the second straight year. This year luck would be on their side again as they were able to land the second pick.
They took Ja Morant out of Murray State laying the groundwork for potentially the most dominant duo in the league for years to come.
Although Zion Williamson has been seen as the can’t miss prospect Morant is actually the better player, and was the best player in this past years draft.
Morant had a stellar, exhilarating, dominate junior season. He was a walking YouTube highlight reel that featured rim shaking post dunks and slick passing.
His athleticism is what stands out right away he can lead his team, but what makes Morant great is his next level vision. Morant’s unreal vision allows him to make reads and passes that very few point guards are able to make.
Morant is ambidextrous which allows him to make any pass on the court. He is able to make these passes with accuracy placing the ball in the shooter's shot pocket.
The Grizzlies are a year and another piece away from making the playoffs in a tough western conference, but mark my words they are definitely going to be one of the most exciting teams to watch this upcoming season.