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NBA Draft Scouting 2017: Breaking Down Josh Jackson

Josh Jackson
Last year, Josh Jackson made headlines when his late commitment to Kansas landed the Jayhawks their third No. 1 overall recruit in six years (Josh Selby in 2010 and Andrew Wiggins in 2013), while also seeming to push KU to the forefront of National Championship contention. While he endured some growing pains and mistakes in his lone season in collegiate basketball, Jackson also made serious strides and by the end of the season, was as dynamic and explosive as any college basketball player in the country. Now, like many Jayhawks before him, the former No. 1 recruit will take his game to the next level, where scouts will be forced to analyze his interesting and complex game. Will his shooting deficiencies force him to drop, or will his dangerous abilities in the open floor still help him land a top three selection? Delving deeper into Jackson's game may give us the answers we need to see where he'll end up being selected in just a few weeks time.

Offense: A comparison to Wiggins (who of course, just happened to go No. 1 overall in the '14 Draft), certainly can be made at this point in Jackson's career on the offensive end. Much like Wiggins, Jackson is not much of a shooter, but does most his damage getting to the rim and finishing. Jackson shot just 38 percent from deep on the season, and seemed to really stray away from the shot late in the season. There is plenty of hope that he can improve from deep, much like Wiggins has since heading to the next level, but his shooting form needs refinement. It is very low and slow, which leaves him susceptible to getting blocked by the taller and lengthier defenders he will see in the NBA. Jackson did prove to grow a pretty good mid range shooting game as the season wore on, which certainly will help him stay away from being one-dimensional and keep defenders guessing. He proved to be a pretty good shooter off the dribble in the mid range, a part of his game that has certainly improved since joining Kansas. Yet, it is completely realistic that Jackson will never be known as a guy that can stretch the floor or shoot lights out, because he is so strong in other aspects. Using his size (6'8") and strength to get to the rim is where Jackson excels, and his underrated agility and quickness should help at the next level, even as defenders get bigger and more physical. Jackson is absolutely exceptional in transition, where his explosiveness is really key and he can finish off some highlights with his athleticism. That highlight-reel-making athleticism and dunking ability certainly gets a lot of attention, but it overshadows some of the little things Jackson does that are very important. For one thing, the youngster is an impressive passer, averaging three assists per game this past season in Lawrence, despite not playing at a position that needs to pass the ball a ton. He has a great feel for the game in general, and makes the right decisions. Combine that with an ability to crash the offensive glass and get second chance buckets (2.3 offensive rebounds per game) and Jackson overall has a pretty impressive offensive game, despite the questions he may have shooting the ball.

Defense: A lot of players can consider themselves good defenders, but few really change the game on the defensive end of the ball. Jackson certainly is in that minority, as his defensive abilities play a huge role for his team. Jackson is a superb on-ball defender, and he isn't a guy that you can really get mismatches against. He is big enough and lengthy enough to defend players in the post, but also possesses the quickness and footwork to handle quicker wings, which makes him so versatile on that end of the court. He can make plenty of steals with his quick hands and ability to read the defense, which also enables him to jump passing routes. He recorded 1.7 steals per game last season, which fed seamlessly into his aggressive transition game. Another major factor for Jackson is his ability to alter and block shots down low. Offensive players will struggle to really get anything easy when taking it in on the wing, because he does an excellent job of forcing difficult shots without fouling, which is an obvious advantage to have. Much like his offensive rebounding ability, Jackson is a beast on the defensive glass. His 7.4 rebounds per game this past season were extremely impressive, and showed just how much he could impact the game without scoring. There's a good chance he could end up being one of the better rebounding guards/forwards in the NBA, and a pretty consistent double-double machine.

Verdict: There is no denying that Jackson has some pretty significant flaws in his game, and he isn't a super consistent player at this point in his career. But, it's rare that a 19-year-old with just one year of college basketball doesn't have some notable deficiencies and time in the NBA learning from the best should help the Kansas product grow as a shooter and in other aspects of his game. When he does, Jackson's versatility on both ends of the court should only be more impressive, and his transition abilities should be a difference-maker right away wherever he goes in the NBA. He isn't a perfect prospect right now, but his ceiling is incredibly high and there is no doubt in my mind he'll be a rock-solid player in the Association for years to come.

Where He'll Go: No. 4 to the Phoenix Suns

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