Jaren Jackson Jr. has completely forgotten how to shoot, yet the Memphis Grizzlies are an emerging force in the West. Lineups with Jackson have performed excellently (even without Ja Morant!). How is this possible?
Let’s quantify the shooting part. According to Cleaning the Glass, Jackson is below the median for big men in accuracy at the rim, from midrange, and from the three-point line.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and his offensive struggles haven’t hurt the Memphis Grizzlies
After shooting 39 percent from three on 6.5 (often audacious) attempts per game in 2019-2020, Jackson missed nearly the entirety of the 2020-2021 season with a torn meniscus. He’s now down to 31.4 percent on 5.3 attempts – a startling drop-off.
Despite that, JJJ is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s posting career-highs in rebounds (5.8 per game), blocks (2.3 per game), and free throws drawn (4.3 per game). And most importantly, a career-low in fouls (3.4 per game).
His increased comfort with the ball in his hands has resulted in much more attacking. Jackson is attempting 5.7 drives per game this year – a massive increase from 3.9 two years ago.
He’s in the same ballpark as perimeter players like Alec Burks, De’Andre Hunter, and Klay Thompson. Jackson has become very comfortable getting to the floater area, particularly on the right side.
Jackson’s shot has always been unorthodox, but he was a solid-to-great shooter his first two years in the league. It’s reasonable to expect he’ll improve from distance, and his confidence has never wavered. What’s more concerning offensively is the lack of playmaking.
JJJ averages just 1.2 assists per 1.7 turnovers for his career, and these numbers are trending in the wrong direction. He’ll never be a point-forward, and that’s fine, but he needs to do better making the extra pass to turn an okay shot for him into a good one for someone else.