Propsect Preview: Jaren Jackson Jr.

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

JAREN JACKSON, JR., PF/C, MICHIGAN STATE
Ht: 6-foot-11
Wt: 236 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 1.1 apg

HOW HE OPERATES

Outside of Phoenix’s impending decision on whether it will select DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic with the top overall pick, Jaren Jackson Jr. has forced a second, spirited debate: Should he be selected before Duke’s Marvin Bagley III? The two players have very similar skill sets.

Jackson is a classic big with upgrades. His most-used action? Spot-up shooting, by far. He took spot up shots on the offensive end 24 percent of the time. Posting up? Jackson did that only 14 percent of the time – and that was second on the list. He was definitely a beast on the block, making 73 percent of his shots on post-up attempts. Jackson has both right and left-handed hook shots, and had good footwork to free himself up to take those shots. And when he was around the rim, Jackson finished with dunks as much as he could.

His ability to be successful in movement translates to the NBA. Jackson averaged over a point per possession in cuts, transition, and offensive rebound put backs. So, he’s a very active big. And, if need be, Jackson showed an ability to make the right pass to an open teammate for a shot attempt. And that’s an area Jackson can continue to improve.

In transition, he ran the court with speed and urgency. He was not the type of player that handled the ball up the court, but once he crossed the midcourt line he could dribble-drive to the rim. Jackson, a 39.6 percent 3-point shooter, is a threat to hoist attempts from deep as the trailing big in transition. He continues to be an emerging 3-point shooter.

Defensively, he’s got active feet out to the perimeter to close out to shooters. If he was beaten, he had the length to recover and block/contest the shot or disrupt the pass anyway. And it was easy with a wingspan that was measured at an astounding 7-feet, 5-inches, which was the third longest-wingspan measured at the NBA Combine. He’s got a lot of experience guarding stretch bigs because they were plentiful in the Big Ten. Jackson was also good in pick-and-roll defense, hedging out hard and jumping back to his man, or “catching,” but not giving too much ground. At three blocks per game, Jackson projects as a rim protector.

HIS BEST FIT

Jackson’s best fit is with a team needing significant help in the front court on both offense and defense. He can help a team immediately on the defensive end because of his shot blocking. He’ll need to continue to improve his rebounding, but will be a good scorer on the offensive end as well, with the versatility to flourish in different types of actions.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.

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