Jaren Jackson Jr. is the prototypical unicorn defender
All that said, for the first time in his injury-marred, four-year career, Jackson has been a largely positive force for the surging Grizzlies. Lineups with Jackson have outscored opponents by +5.8 points per 100 possessions, a very good figure.
And that number swells to +8.5 points per 100 even without Ja Morant! The primary reason behind this has been his defensive improvement.
Jackson Jr.’s on/off stats show that the Grizzlies defense gives up -4.4 points fewer per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. His ability to contest shots at the rim and on the perimeter makes him a true unicorn defender.
The video below highlights everything that makes Jackson a special defender – all in one possession!
He deters Fred VanVleet on the drive, blocks a slashing Achiuwa, closes out hard (but in control) on Gary Trent Jr., and blocks him from behind, as well.
The advanced stats love him even more than the traditional box score. Estimated Plus/Minus puts JJJ in the 96th percentile of defenders in the league. BBall-Index’s D-LEBRON metric has him as the seventh-most impactful defender league-wide. Basketball-Reference gives him the ninth-most Defensive Win Shares in the league.
He holds opposing players to just 49.3 percent shooting within six feet of the basket, -14.6% worse than expected. That’s a bigger difference than Rudy Gobert or Jarrett Allen can claim.