Jaren Jackson Jr’s DPOY just the beginning for Grizzlies star

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.-Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.-Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has just one his first DPOY award. Will this be the start of a legendary defensive career? 

Jaren Jackson Jr. has been a force on the defensive end all season for the Grizzlies, and the NBA DPOY voters took notice. The league announced Monday night that the Memphis big man has been named DPOY for the 2022/23 season. He joins Grizzlies legend Marc Gasol as the only players in franchise history to win the award. At only 23 years old, he is also one of the youngest winners of the award.

Jackson Jr and the Bucks Brook Lopez were viewed as the favorites, and the voting results showed as such. They finished with 391 and 309 points, respectively, with the Cavaliers Evan Mobley a distant third with 101. While Lopez especially deserved to be in consideration for the award, the voters got it right by giving the honor to Jackson Jr. This is only the beginning for the All-Star forward.

Grizzlies have their defensive star to pair with Ja Morant

We all know that, for better or worse, Ja Morant is the face of the Grizzlies franchise. Despite his off-court issues and bravado, his dominance on the court and his high-flying play style is must-watch TV for fans of the game. Make no mistake, however: Jaren Jackson Jr. is just as important to the Grizzlies success. He was so impactful defensively that he was named DPOY despite playing just 63 games. Runner-ups Brook Lopez and Evan Mobley played 78 and 79 games, respectively.
As great as Morant is offensively, the Grizzlies defense is still the lifeblood of the team. Jackson Jr isn’t the only great defender they have by any means, but his presence in the middle is what makes everything work.

His ability to make up for mistakes made by others is what really makes him special. His effortless leaping ability makes blocking shots natural for him, and his combination of length and quickness at his size makes it hard for even guards to take advantage of him. Those attributes make him a monstrous help defender, since there seems to be no shot he can’t contest when any player tries to score inside.

He may never be a player who plays a ton of minutes (just 28.4 per game this season) or who is a force offensively, but he could still become a perennial All-Star thanks to his defense. Hard to ask for much more than that from your secondary star.