Grizz Thoughts: Josh Jackson gets the call, Anderson slotted into starting role

Josh Jackson called up to Memphis

Possibly the biggest news in Grizzland is that we might, just maybe, it could happen, see Josh Jackson on the court for the Memphis Grizzlies. Jackson has been tearing up the G-League with the Memphis Hustle and will now get a shot to prove himself in the NBA after a troublesome career with the Phoenix Suns. The former number four overall draft pick will have a second opportunity to prove himself and his value as an NBA player. 

If he plays well, he will be doing himself and the Grizzlies a large service. Though the Grizzlies declined his option for next season, he still could harbor some value as we near the trade deadline. Another avenue for Jackson that is less likely is that Memphis decides to pursue re-signing him in unrestricted free agency this summer.  

So far this season, the Grizzlies have been very successful in avoiding the injury bug and have lost the second fewest games in the league to injury according to Spotrac. However, Jae Crowder and Grayson Allen have now joined Bruno Caboclo on the injury report and this thins out the options on the wings considerably for coach Taylor Jenkins. Marko Guduric has not shown that he should be a rotation player, so Grizzlies Twitter and the #FreeJoshJackson movement can simultaneously rejoice. 

In the G-League, Jackson has been putting up over 16 shots per game and is shooting 38% from three on 6.5 attempts per game in 31 minutes of run per appearance. Of course, he won’t have as much opportunity to showcase his talents in Memphis as he did in Southaven, considering noon on the Grizzlies roster averages more than 30 mpg.

It will be a high-pressure situation for Jackson when he sees the court, as he has been the subject of much scrutiny this season. Now all that is left is for his game to do the talking. 

The potential impact of Kyle Anderson in a starting role

With Jae Crowder currently on the shelf, Kyle Anderson drew his fourth start of the season on Sunday against the Phoenix Suns. So far this season, Anderson has been given minimal opportunity to see how his slow motion cerebral game can translate to the current fast-paced strategy that Memphis is employing.

If you look at the season as a whole, it isn’t pretty.

Essentially every teammate of Anderson’s outside of Brandon Clarke has a negative +/- when playing with Anderson. However, if you tighten that window to the last ten games, a range in which the Grizzlies have won eight, the +/- of his teammates begins to look more respectable, most notably with his the bench players. Over the last ten games we have seen a lineup of Ja-Jaren-JV-Kyle-DB (the normal starting lineup with Kyle replacing Crowder) for 24 minutes, in which they posted a minus 6. In thirteen minutes against the Suns, this starting lineup was good for plus 4 and helped propel the Grizzlies to a 30-18 lead after the first quarter.

I’m not saying that Anderson was the main driver in this burst, but it’s appears that he has some calming influence on the game that Crowder does not normally possess. While Crowder and Morant have solid chemistry and frequently team up for exciting plays, there are plenty of frustrating shots that Jae puts up in the meantime — and that is one thing you know Anderson has no interest in doing. The best pairing of the season for Anderson so far has been Brandon Clarke, while Jonas Valanciunas has been his least productive partner. While Clarke is a high-flying alley-oop candidate, Jonas is more of a rim hog who limits Anderson’s distribution options. Since Anderson has only started 4 games this season, there is not enough data to say if the Grizzlies should roll him out there at the jump long term, but it is something to monitor going forward as the wing positions could stay lite if guys like Crowder stay injured or are moved at the trade deadline.   

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