Jaren Jackson Jr.-
Facing the Greek Freak tonight will be Jaren’s most difficult task thus far in the season. While Giannis originally became revered for his freakish athletic dunks and blocks, a massive improvement in his jump shot over the past two seasons has made him one of the most well-rounded players in the NBA. His elite length and athleticism haunts opposing players, which makes this matchup tonight intriguing due to Jaren’s ability to match Giannis’ skill set. Certainly a gap exits athletically, but Jackson’s length gives him a chance to hold the freak in check. In order to do this, Jaren will need to continue to get blocks on defense. Can he hinder the freak’s ability to stride out defenders during fast breaks and get easy layups? Even without blocking, If Jackson can force the ball out of Giannis’ hands a Grizzlies victory becomes much more of a chance. On offense, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the night Jackson gets his 3-point shot in rhythm. Evidence clearly exists to suggest he has the capability to shoot it, but his percentages have not been great so far. Stretching the floor from any Grizz big man will help spread the forest of a front court Milwaukee has. Marc Gasol will need to assist Jackson in finding post lanes as he will struggle to create for his own against Giannis. JJJ will need to step up big for the Grizzlies tonight if we want to leave with a W.
MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden-
The absence of Dillon Brooks leaves a void to be filled on the Grizzlies’ bench. Back-up shooting guards MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden both have the opportunity to step up production, and minutes, substantially during this 4-6 week period. This competition for additional minutes will be fluid as the downfall for both these players has been their inconsistency. While I have personally witnessed both of these players put up buckets, MarShon late last season and Selden during the last two summer leagues, the occasional nights of looking like a G-League player still loom. Will this opportunity allow one to catch a rhythm and sustain it throughout the course of an NBA season? Although both have given solid contributions so far this season, considering the roles and minutes respectively, neither have shot the rock at a tremendous rate. MarShon, typically known for his 3-pt shot, has a mere 29% in that category heading into tonight. The offense will be needed tonight against a tough defense in Milwaukee, look to see if either one of these guys take a leap in the absence of DB.