MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - For the first time in 9 years, the Memphis Grizzlies got to use a top 5 NBA Draft pick.
In 2009, the Grizz took UConn center Hasheem Thabeet. That pick did not turn out well. Thabeet lasted less than two seasons with the team.
That failed pick and last year's dismal season meant the pressure was on to make 2018 count.
The Grizzlies made a long-term play and selected a long-legged guy. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. was drafted by the Grizzlies with that 4th overall pick.
Jackson is the proto-type of that modern big; 6’11”, 240 pounds, with a 7’4” wingspan. He can play forward or eventually could play center. He's a solid 3-point shooter and shot over 40% beyond the arc in his one and only season at Michigan State.
But he's also widely considered the best defensive player in this year's draft. His shot blocking is on point. He averaged 5 and a half per 40 minutes.
This pick wasn't wildly popular with Grizzlies fans, but Jackson should get real rotation minutes this upcoming season. And there's a huge upside there with his potential development on both sides of the floor.
Jackson was not the only new member of the Grizzlies fam. With the 32nd pick, the Grizzlies selected West Virginia point guard Jevon Carter.
This guy is grit and grind; a two-time Big 12 defensive player of the year, set the school record for steals with 330, and averaged 17 points a game.
Hundreds of Grizzlies fans got to see the picks on the Jumbotron in FedExForum. That's where the team hosted their official Draft Night watch party.
While many fans may have been dreaming of Deondre Ayton or Luka Doncic wearing Beale Street blue next year, they tell us they're excited about the potential Jackson Jr. has shown.
We'll get a better idea of how good Jackson is in about two weeks. That's when the Grizzlies play their first summer league game in Las Vegas.