NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Josh Jackson

by Jonah Ballow
NYKnicks.com
@jonahballow

The Path
Josh Jackson was regarded as the 2016 top high school recruit in the nation by Rivals.com and Scout.com.  A San Diego native, Jackson played ball at the Consortium College Prep School in Detroit before moving to Justin-Siena High School in Napa, California.  This past season, Jackson elevated his national status by suiting up for the Kansas Jayhawks and immediately providing impact as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.  At Kansas, Jackson averaged 16.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, three assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game while the squad reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Strengths
The 6-8 forward is the quintessential two-way basketball player.  By utilizing his spectacular athleticism, Jackson defends on the perimeter and interior at a high level.  He’s adept at defending on the ball and from the weak side along with challenging shots at the rim.  The numbers validate the eye test as Jackson racked up steals and blocks to earn the reputation as the one of the best defenders in the draft class.  Offensively, Jackson owns NBA athleticism by displaying a quick first-step burst and high-rising dunks via an alley-oop or finishing in the open floor.  Due to his quick-twitch muscles, Jackson can rise off the floor quickly for deep jumpers at the college 3-point line (37.8%).

Next Level
Some draft pundits believe Jackson is the best player in the class but the hype surrounding Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball will push the two above him at the June draft.  The versatile forward might be the prospect with the highest upside in terms of his impact on both sides of the floor.  Jackson’s game should flourish in the NBA, considering his skills defending the pick-and-roll, varied offensive attack, and explosive abilities in an up-tempo style of game.  Most of the mock drafts target him at the No. 3 pick for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Statistically Speaking
Jackson’s defensive impact was evident in his defensive rating for the 2016-17 season: 96.0.

What They’re Saying
“He is the best two-way player in the draft, with a combination of elite size, length and athleticism for a wing.” – ESPN’s Chad Ford

“He’s a fiery guy who has been a two-way player his entire career, and showed the ability to guard anywhere from 1-4 in college.” –Draft Express