Coming into this season, one of the key factors for the Memphis Grizzlies was whether the roster could avoid the injuries that derailed the 2017-2018 campaign. The hope among the front office and the fan base was that if the team could remain healthy, it could once again compete in the loaded western conference. Two games in, those hopes have already taken a hit. Starting power forward JaMychal Green suffered a broken jaw in the home opener against Atlanta, and the team reports that he is expected to miss four to six weeks.
The loss of Green is a tough blow for a team attempting to rebuild on-the-fly. He’s one of the better rebounders on the roster, and his athleticism at the four only increases his value in the modern NBA. While it is never ideal to be down a starter, especially this early in the season, the circumstances surrounding Green’s absence this time around are a bit different.
Tough blow for Green, who has gone down with injury two straight years in home opener. This hurts Memphis' depth, but the future of the franchise moves into the starting lineup now: Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. He had 24 and 7 on Friday. He has has all the makings of a star. https://t.co/ZkDRx9exmh
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 20, 2018
Waiting in the wings is Jaren Jackson Jr., the first-round pick from Michigan State who is the future of both the Grizzlies and the NBA with the way he combines his three-point prowess and shot-blocking savvy. Jackson Jr is listed at 6’11” but has a wingspan that stretches 7’4”. For comparison, Milwaukee Bucks all-world forward and MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo has a reach of 7’3”. While JJJ is obviously still a work-in-progress and will need more development to reach his full ceiling, the early signs have been encouraging for Grizz fans. Throughout the first two games, albeit a small sample size, JJJ is posting 17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 1.5 apg in 26.5 minutes per, respectively. After a shaky debut at Indiana, JJJ impressed in his first contest at home to the tune of 24 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, going 8-12 from the floor and 2-4 from beyond the arc.
— NBA (@NBA) October 20, 2018
After the injury to Green, fans can expect to see JJJ’s role extend. Per his 36 minutes stats, Jackson Jr. is posting 23.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.0 apg along with 2.7 steals and 2.0 blocks per. Keep in mind this guy is only 19 years old.
When Jaren Jackson Jr. does anything: pic.twitter.com/qla50kRMvM
— 929ESPN (@929espn) October 18, 2018
While Grizz nation certainly wishes for the speediest of recoveries for J-Mych, who is loved by the fans and brings high energy whenever he steps on the floor, JJJ is the guy that will be lighting up Fedex Forum for years to come. It’s the fourth overall pick’s time to shine.
Is it possible Jaren Jackson Jr. is the best player on Memphis’ team? I may not be joking.
— Brad Carson (@BradCarson) October 18, 2018
Feature Image: [Getty Images]