The Basics on Jackson:
Position: Small forward/Power forward
Weight: 203 lbs
What he does well: Guard multiple positions and play with a high motor. If you’re looking for a player who does the little things on both sides of the ball, Jackson stands out a cut above the rest. The wing guarded guards and forwards during his tenure at Kansas, using his quickness and toughness in the post to hold his own against multiple positions. He’s an outstanding rebounder (7.4 per game) for his size and his all-around athleticism should translate well to the NBA game.
The edge Jackson plays with is unique as well. He’s constantly labeled as the most competitive player in this year’s draft class on the court. He will push up the court in transition well, he fights through screens with force and he’s always looking to make the smart play on the offensive end. That discipline is shown with his high field goal percentage and forceful cuts to the rim, which help mask some other limitations in his game on the offensive end.
Where he can improve: Shooting. Jackson hit 37 percent of his 3-point attempts last year but that came in a limited sample size (2 attempts per game). He’s going to need to stretch the floor at the next level and he’s got a shot that needs a lot of work. A look at his free throw shooting numbers (56 percent) tell the bigger story of the work that’s needed. He’s got time to fix the issues, but it’s safe to say after looking at his form, some jumpshot reconstruction can’t be totally ruled out at the next level. The Celtics have rolled the dice with a couple of these kind of shooters in recent years with Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, and they’d be doing the same with Jackson.
How he helps the Celtics: With small ball becoming more and more of the norm in today’s NBA, a team can’t have enough versatile athletic wings that are interchangeable through spots 1-4 in the lineup. Jackson is a guy that not only checks those boxes from a defensive standpoint, but he’s got IQ and ability to offensively fill in well at different positions on the floor too. Whether it’s hitting the glass hard from the wing, pushing the ball in transition or finding the open man in the halfcourt, Jackson has the intangibles to be a weapon for Brad Stevens.
The Celtics’ historical comp: A bigger, better version of Tony Allen is the first name that comes to mind. Before he went down with a torn ACL in the 2006-07 season, Allen was a ferocious defender, explosive scorer without a reliable jump shot. The offensive ceiling is a little bit higher for Jackson (which it should be for top 3 prospect) but you Allen at his peak with the C’s and Grizzlies is a solid starting point for what you can expect at the next level with Jackson.
One highlight to get you excited: