1. Jaren Jackson Jr. looks good serving as top option without Ja Morant
Recently, former big man and NBA Champion Kendrick Perkins singled out Jaren Jackson Jr. during an appearance on NBA Today, stating that, with superstar Ja Morant suspended for the first 25 games of the year, the power forward will now need to take on the role of Memphis’ number one, go-to option if the team wishes to stay afloat during the early stages of the regular season.
Though some may have had concerns about how the 24-year-old would fare in such a role, especially considering how greatly he struggled during this summer’s FIBA World Cup, Sunday’s opener suggests that he’s looking to take on this challenge head-on.
Aggressive and assertive right from the jump, Jackson was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball, displaying a willingness to post up, impact opposing shots, and, in some instances, even run the floor.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year filled up the stat sheet during his 24 minutes of play, as he finished the night off with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a whopping 5 blocks on 53.3 percent shooting from the floor.
He also led his team in shot attempts with 15, which should be viewed as a positive sign considering he averaged just the fourth most attempts last season.
With Morant out for a third of the season, coach Jenkins will need Jackson to pick up the slack and prove to the masses why he’s worthy of the moniker of NBA All-Star and co-franchise cornerstone.
His performance against the Pacers shows he’s capable of taking on such a challenge.