Here at SportzEdge, we’re breaking down the NBA Draft prospects like no one else (OK, a lot of other people do this, but still). We’ll have profiles of the top players in this year’s draft, so you can determine which guys you’d like your team to choose, based on 3-minute highlight videos and your boy’s synopsis of their games. (It’s cool–we watch a lot of college hoops). Check it out:
6-8, 207 lbs.
STRENGTHS: Remember all that hype that followed Andrew Wiggins into Lawrence? Well, this kid was a better player at KU. The comparison makes sense–both guys are 6-8 wings, but Jackson, who came in with 1,000 percent less hype as Wiggins, was the more polished collegian. The Detroit native averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game last season, and proved to be the bellweather player on a team with the consensus National Player of the Year (Frank Mason).
There’s not much Jackson can’t do on the court–he’s got tremendous athleticism, a quick first step, the requisite shiftiness, and the ability to finish in the paint or around the rim. He’s also got a reliable jump shot and easy three-point range, though his form is clunky and could use some improvement (he shot 37.8% from three).
Though he played the 3 at KU, Jackson was a prolific rebounder, and he showed nice court vision within the construct of Bill Self’s high-low offense. On defense, Jackson’s length and athleticism allowed him to defend everything from the 2 to the 5. He was terrific in the passing lanes, coming up with 1.7 steals per game and even blocking 1.1 shots per.
WEAKNESSES: While his game might be mature, his brain…not so much. Jackson got himself in trouble with the law twice in one year, first for allegedly vandalizing a female basketball player’s car and then for hitting someone’s car and bailing without leaving a note. Clearly, he needs to be smarter, but he’s only 19. Hopefully he leaves the foolishness in Lawrence.
As far as his weaknesses between the lines, his jump shot could use a little work. He showed the ability to knock it down, but doesn’t have the prettiest form. He also only shot 57% from the free throw line.
BOTTOM LINE: If he develops a knock-down jump shot, Jackson will be trouble at the next level. This kid has the skill set, Slam Dunk Contest-level athleticism, and defensive awareness necessary to make him a great 2-guard or wing. He’ll be disruptive and versatile on defense from Day 1, and should only get better with time. No way he slips past No. 5, but there’s a solid chance he could be the first player taken, depending on which team wins the lottery.