With the 2017 NBA Draft only one day away, draft selection rumors are really starting to heat up. The Philadelphia 76ers will almost positively select Markelle Fultz out of Washington first overall. The Los Angeles Lakers will presumably take UCLA’s Lonzo Ball after trading their starting point guard from last season, D’Angelo Russell, to the Brooklyn Nets. One player who many teams are interested in is Josh Jackson. Jackson, the 6’8” small forward out of Kansas, is projected by many to be taken third overall by the Boston Celtics. However, the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls are interested in trading up with the Celtics to take Jackson. My question for this is simple: why? Why are so many teams interested with drafting Josh Jackson?
Josh Jackson is an extremely high risk player to draft in today’s NBA. Over these past years, the NBA has evolved into a shooting heavy game. In order to be a superstar today, a player has to be able to consistently hit a jump shot. Even centers have to be able to shoot a bit now. Take DeMarcus Cousins for example. He averaged 0.2 three point attempts per game and only shot.167 % from deep in college. Last year, she shot over 5 threes per game and made over .360% of his threes. Jackson is not a consistent shooter. His .378 % three point percentage is not the worst looking on paper, but he has proved to not be a consistent shooter at all. A large amount of his percentage comes from games where he made one of two threes. On thirteen games last year, Jackson hit no threes. There are games where he has made .500 % or over from beyond the arc, but these games were scattered and few. Jackson also lacks a mid-range game. If he wants any chance to be an NBA all-star, he must develop a consistent and decent jump shot, and he must do it rather quickly.
During his year at Kansas, Jackson was praised for his incredible athleticism, speed, and defensive abilities. Although these are great attributes to have in an NBA superstar, they may not fully carry over to the professional game. NBA players are much stronger, faster, and more athletic than college players. Jackson cannot be expected to be an elite defender right away in his NBA career. He does have the tools and potential to be one in the future, but it will take him time to get used to the increased quickness and physicality of the NBA. I do believe that Jackson will be a good defender in the NBA after settling in for a year. But what if his supreme athleticism doesn’t carry over fully? Where does that leave him now?
The final grievance I have with Josh Jackson is his attitude and behavior. First of all, Jackson thinks he is better than he is. He has continued to refuse to work out for the Celtics until they fully commit to drafting him. Well, Josh, if they were already sure they were going to draft you, they wouldn’t even need to have you work out for them. And Jackson isn’t even a player that can be fully trusted due to his inconsistency. He sure has a lot of arrogance for a player who hasn’t played a minute in the NBA so far. Also, Jackson has had legal troubles in the past. In December of 2016, Jackson was charged with vandalism after kicking the door and taillight of a Kansas women’s basketball player’s car outside a bar. When confronted by the woman, Jackson yelled, “I’ll beat your ass.” Threatening violence towards women is especially after vandalizing a woman’s car is not acceptable in any way. This rage could carry on to the court too. Obviously, Jackson struggles with anger issues. What happens when he gets into it with an opposing player or a referee? Expect him to get in major foul trouble and face suspensions for too many flagrants and technicals if he can’t learn to control himself. I’m sure not many teams would be pleased by Jackson’s attitude and would see it as a distraction.
There is major upside to Josh Jackson don’t get me wrong. He is athletic, strong, and fast. He can defend. He can score inside with ease, and he is very efficient at driving the lane and attacking the basket. He is even a solid rebounder. If Jackson develops into a consistent shooter, fixes his attitude, and adapts to the NBA game, he could very well end up like a Kawhi Leonard type of player. But these are big ifs. If Jackson fails to live up to his hype, doesn’t adapt to the NBA, continues to struggle shooting, and remains a hothead, he could end up like Stanley Johnson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There is not a lot of margin of error in the NBA. It’s extremely difficult to develop into a great player in the NBA nowadays. For an inconsistent player like Josh Jackson, it is much more probable that he ends up as a player who never really took advantage of his abilities. If the Celtics draft Jackson, hopefully that isn’t the case.