What you need to know:
Josh Jackson came into the 2016-17 season with many expecting him to contend for the No. 1 overall pick. While it looks as though Jackson won’t end up being the top selection, he’s almost unanimously considered top-3 player in this draft on every board (No. 3 overall on the Top 100).
Jackson was involved in an off-the-court incident where he allegedly threaten a Kansas woman’s basketball player and vandalized her car. He was suspended by Bill Self for one game and has since pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor property damage. While it doesn’t appear that Jackson will face much, if any, legal trouble, it is worth noting.
Jackson averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists on the season with 51.3/37.8/56.6 shooting splits. A major question mark in Jackson’s game coming into the season was his jump shooting.
While 37.8 percent is a respectable percentage, it needs context. During Kansas’ first 18 games of the season, Jackson shot 23.7 percent from three, but that number skyrocketed to 48.1 percent over the team’s final 17 games. With just a 56.6 shooting percentage from the free throw line, it’s certainly fair to question the validity of Jackson’s 48.1 percent in the second half of the season, but even his 37.8 percentage for the season.
The best place to start with Jackson is his explosive athleticism.
Jackson can leap off one or two feet and get up in the air quickly which allows for plenty highlight reel plays. Like this one off two feet:
And this one off one foot:
Jackson is always a threat on the run in transition or in the half court to sneak in the backdoor for a lob or find a crease for a put-back dunk.
While his athleticism is a huge plus, Jackson isn’t a perfect athlete. He’s a great athlete, but not quite on the level of some of the truly elite NBA athletes.
But, couple Jackson’s athleticism with his 6’8″ frame and he shouldn’t have any problem guarding threes and fours in the NBA. Below, you’ll see Jackson guarding 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. from Baylor in the post. Laul Acuil Jr. spins in the post and get position, but Jackson, who’s four inches shorter, is able to recover and block the shot from behind.
Jackson should be able to hold his own when switched or cross-matched onto smaller guards. He bends low in his defensive stance and slides well, but he may struggle at times fighting through screens because of his frame.
Jackson is able to move his feet well enough to where he can sag off an offensive player and stay in front of him by not putting his hand on the player, reducing the number of hand-check fouls and keeping himself in position to contest shots and passes.
Jackson also displays a high basketball IQ on defense. He’s always in the right position with a keen court awareness and maintains active feet – ready to pounce on the ball at all times.
Offensively, Jackson does good work off the dribble, making 86 pull-up jumpers on the season and consistently creating offense for others. He finished the season with an 18.2-to-15.9 assist-to-turnover percentage with a 27.2 usage percentage – making him the only wing in the top 10 with a positive assist-to-turnover percentage (Jayson Tatum and Jonathan Isaac were both in the negative).
He’s got solid court awareness on the drive, knowing where his teammates will be and how to draw the defense away from them to set them up with scoring opportunities.
Jackson was also consistent throughout the season at creating for himself. He has a fairly rudimentary set of dribble moves that supplement his first step, allowing him to create separation from defenders to get his shot off.
Jackson was able to get to the rim at will this season where he shot 69 percent (nice). He flashed the ability to finish with either hand over length like this drive below.
Outside of his shooting, Jackson should be able to be an impactful defender and play-maker at the NBA level from day one.
While Jackson is a great athlete, he’s not going to be among the elites in the NBA. At every level of basketball since he was a kid, he’s been the best athlete on the court, and there will be an adjustment period for him learning how to play with and against guys of similar athletic ilk. Jackson’s playmaking, which should translate very well, could take some time to fully develop while he learns to play against NBA wings.
The biggest concern, however, in Jackson’s game is his shooting. His up-and-down shooting season has been well chronicled. Below is a slow-motion breakdown from BBALLBREAKDOWN on Jackson’s shooting stroke.
Essentially, Jackson gets into his shooting motion too late which causes a bent wrist and lower accuracy on the shot. Additionally, Jackson’s mechanics are erratic, and without consistency, his jump shot will continue to struggle. A good NBA shooting coach could work improve Jackson’s mechanics, but it’s never a guarantee that he’ll turn into even an average NBA shooter.
Much of Jackson’s potential hinges on his ability to improve his shot and show some consistency on set shots. Until his jumper becomes respectable, defenders will continue to go under screens, which will hinder his playmaking.