- 1. Career
Jaren Walter Jackson Jr., nicknamed the "Block Panther", also known by his initials JJJ, is an American professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected by Memphis with the fourth overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft. In 2023, he was named to his first NBA All-Star team, later winning Defensive Player of the Year that same season. Jackson has led the league in blocks per game in two consecutive seasons. He played college basketball for the Michigan State Spartans.
On June 21, 2018, Jackson was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2018 NBA draft. On July 1, 2018, he signed a multi-year, rookie scale contract with the Grizzlies. On March 29, 2019, Jackson was shut down for the remainder of the season due to a deep bruise to his right thigh.
On December 13, 2019, Jackson scored a career high 43 points, including 9 three pointers (which tied a franchise record set by Mike Miller in 2007) in a 127–114 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. On January 30, 2020, Jackson was suspended for one game without pay for leaving the bench during an altercation between the Grizzlies and the New York Knicks. On January 28, Jackson recorded a career high 7 blocks in a 104–96 win over the Denver Nuggets. On August 4, 2020, Jackson suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in a 99–109 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans hosted in the Bubble and was expected to miss the remainder of the 2019–20 season.
On December 16, 2020, the Grizzlies announced that they had exercised the team option on Jackson. On April 21, 2021, Jackson made his return, putting up 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Two days later, Jackson scored a season-high 23 points in a 130–128 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. After a series of play-in tournament wins, the Grizzlies qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2017. They faced the top-seeded Utah Jazz during their first round series. On May 31, Jackson scored a postseason career-high 21 points in a 120–113 Game 4 loss. The Grizzlies would eventually lose the series in five games.
On October 18, 2021, Jackson signed a four-year, $105 million extension with the Grizzlies. On January 9, 2022, Jackson scored 21 points and tied a career-high with 12 rebounds in a 127–119 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. On April 16, during Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, Jackson logged 12 points and seven blocks in a 130–117 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. His seven blocks set a Grizzlies franchise record for most blocks in a playoff game, surpassing Marc Gasol's 6 on May 13, 2013. The Grizzlies eventually defeated the Timberwolves in six games, with Jackson recording 18 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in a 114–106 Game 6 win. During the Grizzlies' second-round series, they faced the Golden State Warriors. On May 1, Jackson scored a playoff career-high 33 points, alongside ten rebounds, in a 117–116 Game 1 loss. The Grizzlies wound up losing the series in six games to the Warriors, who went on to win the NBA Finals. Jackson finished the 2021–22 season leading the NBA in blocks per game at 2.3 and finished with the most blocks that season with 177 blocks, 40 more than the second place finisher. For his efforts, he was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team and finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
On June 30, 2022, Jackson underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot and was ruled out for four-to-six months. After missing the first 14 games of the 2022–23 season, he made his season debut on November 15, recording seven points, six rebounds and five blocks in a 113–102 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. On December 12, Jackson recorded a career-high eight blocks, alongside 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists, in a 128–103 win over the Atlanta Hawks. On January 5, 2023, he scored a season-high 31 points, alongside ten rebounds and three blocks, in a 123–115 win over the Orlando Magic. On February 2, Jackson was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game as a reserve forward for the Western Conference. On April 5, Jackson scored a season-high 40 points, along with nine rebounds, three assists and four blocks in a 138–131 overtime loss against the New Orleans Pelicans. On 9 April, Jackson ended the regular season as the league leader in blocks for the second year in a row, averaging a career-high 3 blocks per game. On April 16, in the opening game of the playoffs Jackson scored a game-high 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field in a 128–112 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers. Memphis would go on to lose the series in 6 games. During the playoffs, Jackson was named for the first time the Defensive Player of the Year, and was named for the second consecutive time to the NBA All-Defensive First team.