Jaren Jackson Junior got in foul trouble early against New Zealand and he has taken a strong stance on his style of defense, even though Team USA coach Steve Kerr feels differently.
During the 2023 DPOY’s time on the court, he displayed amazing athleticism and absolutely put his body on the line at times.
“He has the ability to block everything,” Team USA head coach Kerr told Yahoo Sports. “But sometimes he needs to dial it back a little bit.”
Because of his all or nothing approach, Jackson was limited to just 16 minutes of playing time against NZ.
Kerr erred on the side of caution and opted to play Paolo Banchero for the rest of the game because FIBA only allows five fouls instead of the NBA’s six.
We saw a similar story when Jackson played for Memphis last postseason and he picked up a worrying amount of fouls, so was benched.
“He’s foul-prone in the NBA,” Kerr said. “So, there’s always one or two plays where you just want him to let it go, because he’s too important to us. So we share those clips and just remind him sometimes the best play is to just let the guy go and don’t pick up the foul.”
Jackson himself, isn’t fazed one bit by the amount of fouls he picks up and says that Memphis “don’t care either”. They’re not worried about it all,” Jackson said.
“Go get it, man,” Jackson continued. “It comes with it. If I’m gonna be less aggressive, I’m gonna have less blocks, I’m gonna bring less rim protection, and I’ma have less fouls with all that. Pick one or the other. Which one do you want? Do you want me to be great or not?”
Another USA star, Anthony Edwards shared similar thoughts to Kerr about JJJ.
“We get on him all the time about fouling,” Edwards told Joe Viray. “We’re trying to keep him out of foul trouble, because we know we’re gonna need him. He’s super important to the team, he might be the most important piece actually.”
The 23-year-old will no doubt be of vital importance for Team USA in their second game against Greece on Monday August 28.
Check the FIBA website to see what time you can view the game in your country.