2016-17 Stats: 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks
HOW HE OPERATES
Josh Jackson is as good a stat stuffer as there is in the NBA Draft. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year out of Kansas is a rangy – near 6-10 wingspan – small forward that doesn’t need a ton of touches to score (12.3 attempts per game), can shoot out to the 3-point line, and is a top-shelf defender. We’ll start there.
Defensively, Jackson has good feet, decent lateral quickness and flat-out competes on that end. He gets in a stance, closes down the space between he and the offensive player and hounds him all over the court. Jackson’s awareness stands out. His attention to the game plan does as well. Kansas is a good defensive team that runs a defensive that isn’t simple to execute. Jackson deftly handled all of the rotations. And he isn’t afraid to give up his body, taking charges whenever he can. On the block in post defense, Jackson got big, bodying up to the offensive player with hands up, making attempts at the rim over him difficult. As he adds strength, he’ll improve even more in the post. He has active hands, and steals the ball both from just taking it from the ball handler and by getting into passing lanes. He’s a three-tool shot-blocker, swatting his own man’s shot as well as coming to block shots as the help defender and in chase down situations.
Offensively, Jackson did his damage off the ball. Spot-up shooting and transition offense were his most-used actions, as senior point guard Frank Mason shouldered the scoring load. That left Jackson free to roam, and he wasn’t shy about getting attempts up when the ball swung his way. Being able to find his niche off the ball will serve Jackson well in the NBA, as he’ll likely be in a situation where he’s not being handed the keys to the team. Jackson can put the ball on the deck and pull-up for jump shots. A good athlete, Jackson has few problems slashing to the rim and finishing with dunks. His ball handling overall could improve, however. Particularly in transition, where things got dicey for him once he hit the free throw line going downhill. He turned the ball over in many of those circumstances as the space condensed and defenders were all around.
And he’s got good mental makeup. If Jackson makes a mistake on one end, he’s not compounding the error with a mistake on the other end on the ensuing possession. If you’re looking for an NBA comp for Jackson, Indiana’s Paul George is a good place to start. The jury’s still out on how prolific a scorer Jackson will be, but he is as well-rounded a prospect as there is.
HIS BEST FIT
Josh Jackson is a plug-and-play athlete in a lot of places because he doesn’t need the ball to be successful. That makes his swath of ideal situations wider than those that need the ball to survive.