Frank Jackson drives against Utah's defense

NBA Superlatives: Pelicans guard Frank Jackson

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

The first pick of Round 2 in the 2017 NBA Draft, New Orleans shooting guard Frank Jackson was forced to wait until Oct. 17, 2018, to make his official professional debut, after sitting out a full season due to a foot injury. As it turns out, that second round from three years ago has been quite productive, with Jackson (112 career games) among a dozen draftees to make over 100 regular season appearances. Among the relatively deep group of contributing second-rounders from ’17, the only players with higher career scoring averages than Jackson (7.0) are Memphis’ Dillon Brooks (12.4), Washington’s Thomas Bryant (9.9), Denver’s Monte Morris (9.4) and New York’s Damyean Dotson (7.4). Jackson, who just turned 22 on May 4, is technically a two-year pro, having played 61 games in ’18-19 and 51 more this season:

Most influential NBA players on him growing up: “I loved watching Allen Iverson when I was younger and Rajon Rondo, when he was with the Celtics. And I think being in the league, the last three years, I think being around Jrue (Holiday) has been just so awesome, tremendously helped me. Same with Rondo. I wish I could have played with him (longer). Jameer Nelson was huge when he was with us. Honestly, I've been really fortunate. (Anthony Davis) was great with me. To be surrounded by such awesome guys, but obviously me and Jrue have been buddies since I got here and that's my dog. He always looks out for me.”

When he realized playing in the NBA might be possible: “I would probably say my junior year of high school. I think when you started going to all-star events and different camps and you kind of size yourself up to the guys and you start to realize, ‘Maybe if I keep taking the right direction, I can make it.’ ”

Most surprising thing about the NBA as a rookie: “The speed of the game, how fast it flows. Also, how physical it is. I thought it was going to be a lot slower, but nope.” [smiles]

Toughest player to face at his position: “It’s a long list. There are a ton of talented athletes in the league. I’ll go with Steph Curry; he was one of the first players I had to guard. It was in Oracle Arena, and he completely torched me. It was really hard.”

Best uniforms in the NBA (besides the Pelicans’): “I’d probably say the Utah Jazz. I wish we could get those colors back, because those are our colors (of New Orleans) originally.”

Favorite NBA road arenas: “I love Chicago, that arena is awesome. I like Utah, because of playing at home.”

All-time NBA starting five: “Magic at the 1, Jordan on the wing, Shaq at center, Karl Malone at the four. Maybe Jrue Holiday at the 2.”

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