Memphis Grizzlies power forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr. underwent surgery in June to address a stress fracture in his right foot. At the time, the team stated that he was to miss approximately four to six months and make a full recovery.
At Grizzlies Media Day on Monday, further updates were given as to where Jackson is in his recovery process, as the team and Jackson himself addressed the media.
“We are still trying to figure out Jaren’s firm timeline,” head coach Taylor Jenkins stated. “I think he is still on the same initial timeline as we said… All the images are showing good signs of healing and I think the timeline is the timeline right now, but we’ll have more updates as we get going forward.”
As for Jaren Jackson himself, the fifth-year big man said that he believes he is ahead of schedule, but that it is “probably not likely” that he will be on the floor with the team for Opening Night on October 19 as they take on the New York Knicks.
Through four seasons with the Grizzlies, Jackson has continued to improve as an all-around talent on the floor and was recently in consideration for the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, as he finished fifth in the voting and instead earned All-Defensive First Team honors for the first time in his career.
Jackson also finished the 2021-22 season with 177 total blocks and averaged 2.3 blocks per game, ranking him first in the league in both categories.
As for what Jackson would like to accomplish when he gets back out on the floor, he made his personal goal for the 2022-23 season very clear – win the 2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I want it badly,” Jaren Jackson said in regards to the end of season award. Jackson was upset that he did not win the award this past season and felt like he deserved the award after leading the league in blocks and being one of the best overall defenders in the entire league.
With Jaren Jackson Jr. most likely out to begin the new season, the Grizzlies will be faced with a tough task of replacing their defensive anchor down low.
Both head coach Taylor Jenkins and general manager Zach Kleiman offered their thoughts on who would step up in the rotation to replace Jackson’s minutes and the popular names mentioned were second-year forward Santi Aldama and third-year forward/center Xavier Tillman Sr.
Coming off of a 56-26 season, a year in which Memphis tied their franchise record for wins in a single season, expectations are very high for the Grizzlies. They may be a young team in the Western Conference, but everyone within this organization believes that they have what it takes to compete at the highest level and compete for a title during the 2022-23 NBA season.