Nets Might Have Found Their French Connection in Jackson
EAST RUTHERFORD — Edwin Jackson is French connected in the basketball world.
His father, Skeeter, an American, was a long-time hoops star in Europe who played for the French national team.
His mentor, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, also happens to be part owner and vice president of basketball operations for Jackson’s ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne team.
His success in international play with the French national team has had Jackson on the Brooklyn Nets’ radar for several years now.
And with his solid play the last three days in the Nets’ free agent camp that concluded on Wednesday, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Jackson with the Nets next month in their Orlando Summer League.
“I added pieces to my game,’’ Jackson, 24, told BrooklynNets.com. “I think my passing is better now. I’m able to handle the ball more than I used to. Before I used to be a good shooter. Now I can bring a little more to the team. I’m more mature. The time could be right to play in the NBA. I hope so.’’
Jackson is a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body – 6-2, 185 pounds. When the Nets first brought him in for a predraft workout three years ago, he dazzled with the range and consistency of his shot.
He needed to get stronger and improve his ball handling, which he’s done. He also has been carrying a torch for the Nets, a flame that has grown with the team’s move to Brooklyn, the team-first players that GM Billy King has assembled and the appointment of Jason Kidd as head coach.
“I’m a guy who is in love with this game of basketball,’’ said Jackson. “I could talk about it for hours about this game. I wish I could have a little time to talk to Jason because he was one of my favorite players, to understand the game like he understands the game. Hopefully I’ll get a chance.
“I think nowadays the point guard position has been played with guys that have the a ability to score the ball. Jason Kidd could score the ball but he was a general on the court, trying to make other guys involved, trying to make the right play and his teammates shine.
“The way they play – Paul Pierce, a Hall of Famer, he’s scored 25 points his whole life – is taking a little less shots because Joe Johnson is in a better spot. It really inspires me."
Inspiration is not lacking for Jackson. He was so excited to get the invitation to come to this workout he flew from France on Saturday and was still a little jet-lagged on Monday’s opening day.
His play improved each day. On Wednesday he led a textbook fast break and then drained a deep three from the top of the key after shaking off a poke in the eye and an elbow to the jaw.
The Nets know they might lose Shaun Livingston in free agency. If they don’t, there is a need for depth at that position if Kidd opts to start Livingston alongside Deron Williams.
Jackson has the mentality to play in this system. He’d mesh with the other Europeans players on the team such as Mirza Teletovic and Andrei Kirilenko.
Jackson also would thrive in this market. On Tuesday he had coffee with Red Bulls star Thierry Henry. Of the 31 players that attended this workout, Jackson might be the odds-on favorite to be invited to the team’s summer league camp in Orlando.
“I’m trying to make the right play, don’t worry about stats or trying to make myself shine,’’ said Jackson. “Be unselfish. Bring energy. Be positive all the time. Knock down a couple of open shots.
“I think I could be useful to an NBA team looking for a boost off the bench, an 11th or 12th guy who comes in and plays his butt off."
That’s exactly what the Nets are looking for.