After coming off a career-best season in 2022-23, all eyes are on big man Jaren Jackson Jr. to continue his upward trajectory through stardom. His momentum will especially be a major focus during these first couple of months of the season, as the Memphis Grizzlies will likely look to lean on him while co-star Ja Morant is sidelined as a result of a league-issued suspension.
A polarizing presence on both ends of the floor, with his combination of size and attention-grabbing agility, there are few players in the association that compare to the 24-year-old.
However, during a recent episode of the Locked on Grizzlies podcast, co-host Demichael Cole made a bold claim stating that Jackson showed “flashes” similar to that of two-time NBA MVP and all-world superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo during Memphis’ recent preseason opener.
Grizzlies big Jaren Jackson Jr. receives comparison to Giannis Antetokounmpo
"“I think it’s fair to kind of say you see the flashes [of similarities between Jackson Jr. and Antetokounmpo] when he’s getting the ball at the top of the key, and the Grizzlies are giving him a running head start getting to the basket,” Cole said. “We saw it a couple of times when he hit a guy with a crossover and got to his right hand. He did it again when he got to his left hand and then we saw the spot-up three-point shooting, right. And then we saw the post-up where he got to his left-hand hook shot. So we saw him score in a variety of different ways.”"
During their Sunday bout against the Indiana Pacers, Jackson showcased an exciting level of comfortability handling the ball and putting it on the floor in halfcourt and, sometimes, even in fullcourt sets, which is something the 7-foot Giannis has shown a knack for throughout his tenure.
10 of his 18 points on the night actually came after fielding passes near or even beyond the top of the key, where the big would then either muscle his way closer to the rim or utilize some impressive handles to create space between him and his defender which, again, was an Antetokounmpo-esque offensive approach.
Of course, Cole would emphasize that he’s not going as far as to say Jackson and the superstar are dead ringers for one another, with fellow podcast host Joe Mullinax labeling JJJ as a “poor man’s Giannis” during the segment, but noted that seeing these progressions in his game is certainly a welcomed sight to see as he now heads into the direct follow up to his All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year campaign.