Grizzlies news: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr earn All-Star nods

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12)-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12)-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Grizzlies fans already knew Ja Morant would be an All-Star reserve, but Jaren Jackson Jr joining him is a bit of a surprise. Here is why they are both deserving of the honor.

It’s official: the Grizzlies have not one, but two All-Star players this season. Ja Morant was a no-brainer selection, but there was plenty of reason to believe he would be the lone Grizzly to make the team. Instead, current DPOY favorite Jaren Jackson Jr earned his first appearance on the strength of his improved offense, and of course his defensive impact.

While it’s easy to assume that the player leading the race for a major award would be an All-Star lock, that isn’t the case this year. Between his delayed start to the season and a strong field of worthy candidates, his inclusion was no guarantee. Even so, this honor is a well-earned one for the Grizzlies star big man. Both he and Morant should bring a lot of energy and highlights to the game itself. Let’s take a deeper look at how they earned their spots.

Grizzlies Morant, Jackson Jr form an elite inside-out duo

On the surface, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the two best players on one of the best teams in basketball have two All-Stars. When you look deeper at the Grizzlies season, however, it gives a different context. Jackson Jr missed the first 14 games of the season while recovering from off-season foot surgery. Morant has missed multiple games as well with nagging injuries. The fact that Jackson Jr especially is still viewed as an All-Star is a testament to his value on the court.

Without Jackson Jr in the lineup, the Grizzlies are one of the worst defenses in the NBA. With him, they are one of the best. Put simply, he is the difference between a team that needs to score 120 points to win opposed to 110. That type of swing defensively is so important in the grind that is the NBA season. Shots aren’t always going to fall, but defense is about effort, not just talent.

Morant is the offensive engine for the Grizzlies, averaging a career-high in assists and tying his high in points. He is the yin to Jackson Jr’s yang, and the two of them are some of the very best at what they do. While there were plenty of deserving players who didn’t make it, seeing two Grizzlies make the All-Star for the first time feels right. I doubt it will be the last time, either.