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Jaren Jackson Jr. makes season debut with Grizzlies

The former 4th overall pick has not played since the 2022 postseason.

Jaren Jackson Jr. averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and a career-best 2.3 blocks last season.

Jaren Jackson Jr., the big missing piece to the Memphis Grizzlies’ championship hopes, made his season debut on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jackson looked a bit rusty, finishing the game with seven points on 3-for-14 shooting. He was, however, dominant on the other end, swatting away five shots while grabbing six rebounds in 25 minutes of action.

The team confirmed Jackson’s return when they revealed Tuesday’s starting lineup.

“I’m just excited to be back,” Jackson said Monday. “It was just about taking my time. I’m just ready. All the rest will take care of itself.”

Jackson Jr., the fourth overall pick in the 2018 Draft, has not played since the 2022 playoffs after undergoing right foot surgery. The 23-year-old big man averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and a career-best 2.3 blocks last season.

Second-year forward Santi Aldama has filled in for Jackson Jr. in the starting lineup, averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. Memphis enters Tuesday with a 9-5 record, good for fourth place in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to the star-quality play of guards Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.

Bane will miss 2-3 weeks with a foot injury.

“We all know that when Jaren gets back, he’s going to help take our team to another level, especially on the defensive end,” Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks said, per “What we have to do is hold it down until he’s ready. We know when he’s ready, the type of player he is.”