Draymond issues brutally honest challenge to JJJ, Grizzlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
The Memphis Grizzlies are knocking on the door of NBA Finals contention. Theres just one thing missing.
Oftentimes, it’s one of their best players.
On the latest episode of the “Draymond Green Show” podcast, the Warriors’ forward was joined by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, where Smith discussed his current Finals prediction, which — at the moment — does not include Golden State or the Brooklyn Nets, a matchup that initially was Smith’s preseason prediction.
“I believe y’all at your best as marksmen, I think the only team that would have a shot to beat y’all at your best is a Brooklyn Nets team at their best, because they can shoot too,” Smith said to Green . “It will take that in order to knock y’all off. I will tell you, Boston and Memphis deserve the nod today, but I’m holding onto dear life to my preseason prediction. (The Warriors) versus the Brooklyn Nets.”
Smith believes the Grizzlies, who Golden State defeated last season in the Western Conference semifinal round — are on the verge of establishing themselves as legitimate championship contenders. Green echoed Smith’s sentiment, giving Memphis its flowers, but claiming the up-and-coming Grizzlies need to fix one thing in order to reach their championship potential.
“I think Memphis is knocking at the door as well,” Green said. “I think they are to be reckoned with, I don’t look at them like ‘that’s nothing.’ No, we gotta deal with them. I know that we will deal with them … but the problem they’re going to have and I say this because it’s my little brother and I say it every time I see him. Jaren [Jackson Jr.] gout stop fouling.
“They cannot compete in a playoff series, especially with us, if Jaren does not stop fouling. Jaren cannot end up in foul trouble in five of the six games of a series. He has to be on the floor, because there’s going to be times where Steven Adams, who’s incredible, plays his role better than anybody in the NBA. There’s going to be times in this NBA when you have to take Steven Adams off the floor. It’s just going to happen.”
Jackson Jr., who often finds himself in foul trouble, an issue he struggled with in the playoff series against the Warriors, is regarded as one of the better defenders in the league and, in Green’s opinion, the Grizzlies’ second-best player behind superstar Ja Morant.
“The person who may be able to defend (Steph Curry) is Jaren, but if he’s always in foul trouble, number one you can’t play aggressive and number two you can’t play at all,” Green explained. “You’re on the bench because you’re always in foul trouble.
“The key to making it all happen and giving them a legitimate chance to compete is Jaren Jackson. If Jaren can stop fouling, then they can really contend. If Jaren can’t stop fouling — Jaren’s your second-best player on that team , if your second-best player can’t stay on the floor, they’re not going to be able to win. So that’s my challenge to them, that’s my challenge to my Lil bro, Spartan dog Jaren. He has to stop fouling if they’re ever going to have a chance to win.”
Jackson Jr., a former Michigan State Spartan, has struggled with fouling ever since his 2017-18 season at Green’s alma mater.
“Jaren cost us a championship at Michigan State because he couldn’t stay out of foul trouble,” Green recalled. “You can’t keep having the same problems six years later. You a pro, on the verge of being an All-Star when healthy. You can’t keep fouling. That’s my challenge to Jaren and I hope to see that from him .”
Draymond’s challenge to Jackson Jr. comes from a good place. The two former Spartans have a strong relationship and the four-time champion has seen Jackson Jr. and the Grizzlies up close in the playoffs.
If there’s one player who knows what it takes to win a championship, it’s Green.