The Memphis Grizzlies selected Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. with the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
The Memphis Grizzlies selected 18-year-old Jaren Jackson Jr. with the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
The former Michigan State standout was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and a top recruit in his graduating class. He chose Michigan State after considering offers from Purdue and Maryland.
Jackson’s 7’4″ wingspan helped him shatter the Spartans’ single-season block record. But he’s also strong offensively. In his freshman season at Michigan State, he averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. Still a teenager, Jackson has a lot of room for improvement.
Jackson’s father played in the NBA for a decade.
Jeremy Woo’s grade: A
Many around the league feel that Jackson may end up as one of the three best players in this draft long-term, and he was the right move for the Grizzlies at No. 4 given the circumstances. While he is not a prospect that will make an immediate impact for Memphis and needs time to mature physically and mentally, he has the makings of an outstanding center that can protect the rim and become a versatile stretch big that can anchor a playoff-caliber team on both ends. His ability to shoot from the perimeter and defend in space are an ideal fit for where the league is headed.
SI.com’s Jeremy Woo broke down Jackson’s strengths and weaknesses.
• Enviable physical tools, having measured with a 7’4” wingspan and 9’1” standing reach. Nimble feet allow him mobility on both sides of the floor. Should be able to pack on muscle.
• Strong rim-protection potential (averaged 4.9 blocks per-36 and his 14.3% block rate was fourth-best nationally). Has the fluidity to defend in space and a feel for timing, making him an ideal defensive prospect for a modern center.
• Shot 39.6% from three, offering potential to grow into a consistent floor-spacing threat.
• Developing offensive skill level. Showed flashes of being able to handle and drive from the perimeter. Has made huge strides dating back to his senior year of high school.
• Can be pushed around on the interior. Not overly explosive off the gather, which creates issues playing and finishing in traffic. Not a go-to scorer on the block yet.
• Shooting form isn’t ideal. Has a push mechanism were he lets it go in front of his face. Can make jumpers when wide open but could pose some issues when being closely contested.
• Needs to mature both physically and mentally. Gets visibly aggravated at times when the game doesn’t go his way. Battled foul trouble often.