What would it look like having two lengthy, bouncy, athletic wings playing on opposite sides of the court for the Lakers?
With Brandon Ingram already in tow, that question becomes of interest in consideration with Josh Jackson’s workout on Tuesday at the team’s facility in El Segundo.
The 6-foot-8, 207-pound freshman out of Kansas produced 16.3 points per game on 51.3 percent from the field plus 7.4 boards, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks, showcasing what may be his best skill at the next level: versatility.
“The NBA is changing so much,” Jackson said when we asked him how he might look alongside another long wing. “You look at two of the best teams in the league: Cavs and Warriors. At the end of the game when it’s winning time, there is no five-man on the court; there is no four-man on the court. There’s pretty much forwards and guards all playing at the same time. So I don’t really think me and Brandon being the same position would cause any problems. I think it would be really special, honestly.”
To offer an oversimplified version of things: the Lakers could target a guard like Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz who would immediately help the offense, or a player like Jackson could help more in building a versatile, defensive group.
I asked Jackson where he thinks he fits best on both ends of an NBA floor.
“With the way the game is going today, I think I can guard one through four,” he said. “But back then probably 10 years ago, your four-man probably would have been 6’10” or something like that, so probably not. But the way the game is changing so much today, versatility is pretty important and I think I bring a lot to the table, especially being to switch on any position except the five.”
Perhaps most naturally a three given his frame, Jackson will have to improve his shot (37.8 percent from three at KU) to play 2/3, and his ball handling to play PG. But he did showcase really good vision as a playmaker at times for the Jayhawks, much like Ingram was able to do, even if not his primary skill.
“I think I can play pretty much one through four for an NBA team,” Jackson continued. “Playing the four at Kansas really helped me out a lot. I wasn’t too excited about playing the four coming into Kansas, but we caused a lot of mismatch problems, and I think it really bettered me as a player.”
The good thing about L.A.’s young players is that versatility is already a strength. Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr. and Julius Randle can all play at least two NBA positions. Ivica Zubac, purely a center, is the exception.
As such, they can essentially target the player they think will be the best overall.
The 20-year-old offered his own summary of his strengths and weaknesses.
“My strengths: quick, versatile, athletic, a great passer,” he listed. “Weaknesses: probably ball handling a little bit and probably still my shooting stroke. But both of those are coming along.”
This was Magic Johnson and co.’s second look at Jackson, whom they saw in Sacramento last week.
“When I was in Sac I was working out with my trainer,” Jackson summarized. “I work out with him every day and I’m comfortable with him and know what he wants me to do. We’ve got the same terminology. We’re familiar with each other. Coming out here, I gotta learn a little bit more of their terminology and things they like to do. They put me in a few instances where I would probably be in their offense … hopefully I impressed them.”
Just how much Jackson impressed them could impact their decision come draft day, though of course, it’s just another part of the total package that’s been ongoing throughout the year for him and several other players.
De’Aaron Fox was in for his own workout earlier on Tuesday; Fultz will be at the team’s facility for the first time on Thursday; and they’ll likely take another look at Ball as well.
And come June 22, we’ll all get to see exactly what the Lakers think.