Are you kidding me? First Winslow goes down. Then Tyus Jones with knee soreness, and know this! Jaren Jackson will miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in the same knee he injured in before the season was suspended.
Not only was Jaren Jackson Jr enjoying a breakout season, but he had taken it to another level during the league restart. He was one of the few bright spots in the Grizzlies three losses. He had come up big in end-of-game situations and had been able to easy the scoring burden off Ja.
Having increased his points per game, he also developed his game from range during the summer and became a legit threat from beyond the arc. Teams could no longer simply ignore him on the perimeter and had to close quickly on him, which gave him the advantage because of his lighting fast first step for a big man.
How many time have we seen him take an opposing big of the dribble and finish at the rim with his signature spin move? I’ll tell you exactly how many time: not enough. We should have seen it consistently into the playoff, but an injury robbed us of that pleasure.
I’m not saying that the Grizzlies would have necessarily made a lot of noise in the playoffs, but the were important minutes for Jarren to play to gain experience. With all eyes on him, how would he have responded? From what we saw in to three games, with the poise and composure of a much older player.
Memphis still has a 1.5 game lead on Portland. They also have a 2 game lead on the Spurs who somehow just won’t go away. With five games left and a tough schedule ahead, Memphis was hoping for a much bigger cushion. What Grizzlies’ fans must hope for is that somehow Milwaukee, Boston and Toronto have their seeding rapped up by the time they play Memphis and decide to rest players. With how the east is shaping up it’s a very real possibility.
Replacing Jaren Jackson Jr could be tough. Anthony Tolliver would be the most obvious way to go, but also the most boring. Not the mention the least constructive. Jarren’s injury allows coach Jenkins to find out what he has in several young players. Clarke has been a stud off the bench all year. Let’s seen what he can do with starting minutes. Josh Jackson showed flashes in the Grizzlies first game back. Let him run the court for 20 minutes a game.
It would be simple to just try to replace Jarren’s minutes, but what would be far more interesting would altering the offence all together. Sure Valanciunas can keep his same role and play the 5 while Clarke would play the 4, but what about giving extended minutes to a lineup with Clarke at the 5 and Josh Jackson at the 4? Throw in Allen at the 2, Brooks at the 3 and Ja at the 1 and you’ve got a pretty exciting lineup that very few teams could run with.
Small ball baby. Memphis might not have the shooters to pull it off like Houston, but it’s worth a shot. Give Allen, Clarke and Josh Jackson enough open looks and they’ll start hitting them with consistency. Morant and Brooks are perfect players for that type of offence. They are both able to get to the rim at will and collapse the defence by doing so which opens up the wings.
Konchar who has shot 44.4% from downtown this season would become a valuable asset. He was getting hot and playing quality minutes before the season suspension. Tyus Jones’s return would give Memphis another 38% shooter from three.
Jenkins should go for it. To hell with the current play book, the Grizzlies should have some fun and go extra small. Who knows, you they might figure something out that could carry over into next season.
Make sure to follow @OTHMemphis for all of your Memphis related sports news.