The Memphis Grizzlies’ first lost-time injury of the season is something that will boost Jaren Jackson Jr. much like a rookie-year Donovan Mitchell.
Not only is this particular contest a battle of two intriguing Western Conference teams, but it is same to say that the majority of the eyes will be placed on Jackson Jr. and Mitchell ahead of all other players.
Donovan Mitchell enjoyed a quick rise to fame as an NBA rookie in the 2017-18 season. Though he was drafted within the Lottery at No. 13 overall in 2017, he was overlooked until he was given a chance to shine on the court.
As history went on to tell the tale, “Spida” Mitchell became the best player of his Draft class, and was the runner-up in the NBA Rookie of the Year away race. He lost the vote to Ben Simmons only because of the politics behind this particular league rule.
This success story could soon be a journey that Memphis Grizzlies can find relatable. How so? Take a look at the fourth overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft — Jaren Jackson Jr. — and consider the series of events that is happening to his young professional career.
When Mitchell was preparing for his rookie season, he was stuck within a backcourt logjam. Though Jackson Jr. does not have much competition at his position within the Grizzlies’ roster, his uphill climb was expected. A starting position was not going to be handed to him, just as Donovan initially had to earn his minutes with the Utah Jazz.
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Something that played into Mitchell’s favor is the preseason injury to Utah’s Dante Exum approximately one year ago. This cleared a roadblock from Donovan’s path to stardom.
Correlating this instance to Jaren Jackson Jr.’s first week of the regular season, a similar occurrence has taken place. The Memphis Grizzlies’ JaMychal Green went down in the second game of the season with a broken jaw.
Green is the veteran presence that earned the starting power forward position ahead of Jackson Jr. Though JaMychal has been solid in preseason action, Jaren has been impressing, especially considering his 19 years of youthfulness. It was inevitable that “Triple-J” would emerge as a starter for Memphis, but it was not expected to be this soon.
This was the big break (no pun intended, JaMyke) that Jaren Jackson Jr. needed in order to truly compete for a spot on an NBA All-Rookie team this season. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but it could also lead him to being in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
Due to starting the season as a reserve, Jackson Jr. had been flying under the national media radar. All of the hype has been about Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young, and that much is understandable. Regardless, he is letting his game do the talking. Monday could be the start of something huge, though he has already netted a 24-point performance in the early season.
If Jaren Jackson Jr. does in fact follow the same path as Donovan Mitchell’s stellar rookie season, a win will be had by the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. Utah began 2017-18 with a 1-1 record followed by a victory in their third game.
Though Mitchell did not record a 20-point performance until his sixth regular season game last year, he tallied seven 20-point games by the end of November. With Jackson Jr. in a great position to play plenty of minutes, along with Memphis’ dire need for offense, it would be no surprise for him to match Mitchell’s mark.
Though Grizz Nation should not get ahead of themselves, this is music to the fan base’s ears. Drafting star talents has been a rarity for the Memphis Grizzlies’ Front Office, but it looks as if they hit a home run with Jaren Jackson Jr. He is well on his way to finding success as a 19-year-old professional.