MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thursday night marked the first step in erasing a 22-60 season as the Memphis Grizzlies made their picks in the 2018 NBA draft.
The Grizzlies selected Jaren Jackson Jr. out of Michigan State with the fourth overall pick. As a Spartan, Jackson Jr. was named the Big 10’s Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year.
“When I really got the call from coach, I got the call, I jumped and was like ‘oh snap’ let me get away from this media. I walked over, and was like ‘coach, coach, this is wild, you are calling me right now. This is crazy,” Jackson said.
Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace said Jackson knows how to work and defend playing for Tom Izzo.
“We felt like when we met him in Chicago, he’s just getting started,” Wallace said.
The accolades look great. Couple that with a 6-foot, 11-inch frame and a mental toughness made for Memphis and the Grizzlies got their man.
“He reminded me of why I went to State,” Jackson said. “That is the same mentality Tom Izzo had, that tough, blue collar mentality. Defense always wins championships. People talk about 3’s and all that, but those same teams play great defense. That’s the same with this team.”
Jackson isn’t the only Grizzlies pick to fit the Grit and Grind mentality. Matter of fact, their second round pick Jevon Carter out of West Virginia probably embodies that motto even more. Carter was named the 2017-18 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
“They know that is mentality. So it’s not much you have to tell me. That’s what I’m going to bring every night. Practice, workouts, games, it really doesn’t matter what the situation is, that’s what I’m going to bring,” Carter said.
This was the first time in eight years Memphis didn’t make it to the postseason. They know what works here. Now it’s just about getting back to it.
“Why try to copy cat and be like everybody else?” Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “That is the mentality that we have right now. Everywhere you look around the league everyone is chasing the Golden State’s, the Houston’s, so why can’t we be different. Why can’t we be unique. Why can’t we be so good at what we do. That teams have a hard time when they see us.”
So if you want to focus on what pick the Grizz did or didn’t have, or what players the Grizz did or didn’t get, go ahead. But these guys are going to focus on giving their best to this team and this town.
“All I can control is what I can control, getting better, getting into the gym, working on my game. If you hear a criticism you can either A get made or B go and work on your game,” said Jackson.