Anthony Oliva, NBADLeague.com
The best basketball players in the world are descending upon New Orleans this week for All-Star 2014, and for many of the participants across the NBA and NBA D-League, this trip to the Big Easy is a celebration for all the hard work they have put into their craft. For Pierre Jackson, however, being in New Orleans has a unique meaning altogether.
The host New Orleans Pelicans own Jackson's NBA rights, meaning the only NBA team he is eligible to play for (unless his rights are traded) is the Pelicans. Yet the Pelicans have not called him up to the big-league club this year, so Saturday's All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tires will actually be Jackson's first time playing in New Orleans.
From his last games in college all the way until this weekend, take a look at Pierre's uncanny journey to New Orleans.
Jackson closed out his college career with an exclamation point as he spearheaded Baylor's run in the NIT on his way to being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. This capped a senior year that saw Jackson lead the Big 12 in scoring and assists, the first major-conference player to lead his league in both since Jason Terry did it at Arizona in 1998-99.
Pierre Jackson Baylor Bio
Officially selected by the Philadelphia 76ers, Jackson was actually a part of a trade that also sent Jrue Holiday to New Orleans and fellow rookie Nerlens Noel, once considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, to Philadelphia. The trade, although agreed in principle on Draft night, was not completed until July 12.
Like most rookies, Jackson got his first taste of pro basketball during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas -- Jackson's hometown. In three games (13.3 minutes/game), Jackson scored 11 points and dished out six assists, a far cry from the gaudy numbers that were on the horizon.
Jackson's Summer League Stats
Jackson did not come to terms with New Orleans on a contract during NBA Summer League -- the Pelicans had a guard-heavy roster and limited cap flexibility -- so Jackson opted to play in France. Stating personal reasons, he decided to return home in late September.
Closer to home, Jackson entered himself into the NBA D-League player pool. Despite his NBA rights still being held by the Pelicans, he was an NBA D-League free agent and therefore eligible to be picked by any team. It didn't take long for his name to come off the board. The Idaho Stampede selected Jackson with the No. 4 overall selection behind only Grant Jerrett (selected two picks earlier than Jackson in 2013 NBA Draft) and NBA vets James Johnson and Quincy Douby.
On the season's opening night, Jackson jumped right out of the gates and scored 29 points in his professional debut -- a Stampede win. While more explosive and efficient performers were yet to come, he still managed to hit three 3-pointers and score 12 points from the free-throw line, two portents of future success. The next night, Jackson would have his first 30-point game of the season. Heading into the All-Star Break, Jackson now has 14 games of 30+ points.
It took a grand total of four professional games for Jackson to eclipse to 40-point plateau. On this night, Jackson hit 15 of his 25 shots from the floor, including six triples, on his way to scoring 43 points. He could have gone for more actually, but the 74 percent free-throw shooter shot only 7-for-13 from the charity stripe.
Jackson's hot start continued a week later when he went off for 49 points on 14-for-20 shooting against Fort Wayne. The win extended the Stampede's winning streak to nine to start the season.
On this day, Jackson became the No. 1 overall Prospect in the Prospect Watch for the first time, a spot that he also currently holds. In all, Jackson has been the league's No. 1 Prospect for six weeks this season, including the last four. Two of the four other players that have been ranked No. 1 this season have earned a Call-Up (Malcolm Thomas, Manny Harris).
Go to the Prospect Watch
During the league's premier event, the league's premier scorer put on a show. In two games in Reno, Jackson scored 61 points and dished out 15 assists on his way to being named to the NBADLeague.com All-Showcase Team
It came as no surprise, but Jackson added to his resume by being named an All-Star. This weekend, Jackson will play on the Futures team
Jackson's shining moment came earlier this month when he exploded for 58 points against Texas, the most points ever scored by a player in an NBA D-League game.
Jackson will join 19 other NBA D-League All Stars at the Sprint Arena in New Orleans for the eighth annual NBA D-League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tires. Fans can watch all the action live on NBA TV
or on YouTube
on a 30-minute delay.