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Reason for Optimism: The Grizzlies Have Two Players who Could Fill a Crucial Hole

Since Dillon Brooks went to the Rockets last offseason Grizzlies fans have been questioning who their new small forward would be, whether through trade or free agent signing. Few people knew that they would come from inside the organization or that two great candidates would emerge for the spot.  

Vince Williams Jr is a 6’4 guard that can play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward. He was drafted in the second round, 47th overall in 2022. In his rookie season he played most of it with the Hustle, only playing 15 games for the Grizzlies. This season he started out with the Hustle again, but injuries quickly gave him an opportunity and he took advantage of it.  

Vince Williams Jr has played 52 games this year, starting 33 of them. He was originally a defensive specialist but has emerged as a great all-around player with improved shooting and passing. He has filled up the stat sheet, averaging 10 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, a steal and 0.7 blocks per game. He also shot 37.8% from three. He was selected to the rising stars team during all-star weekend. 

GG Jackson is the youngest player in the NBA at only 19 years old. He was the number one prospect in the country when he was in high school, but he reclassified up a year and went to college early. He struggled and fell to the second round, 45th overall, where the Grizzlies got him last draft.  

GG also started out this season with the Hustle and began playing for the Grizzlies in early January after the injuries of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. He exploded onto the stage, having 5 games over 25 points, and a 35-point game against the Warriors in March. He is averaging 13.3 points and 4 rebounds per game, while shooting 36.6% from three. Despite these good numbers he has truly shined as a starter, averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 13 starts.  

The emergence of these two young players gives the Grizzlies numerous options in building their lineup for next season. They could size down and start one of them at power forward while moving Jaren Jackson Jr. to center. They could also size up and move Marcus Smart to the Bench and play GG or Vince at small forward. While the Grizzlies have struggled greatly this season, GG Jackson and Vince Williams Jr. have been two huge bright spots that strengthen the Grizzlies’ already great young core.  

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