Jaren Jackson Jr.
6’10”, 250 pounds
Big Board Ranking: 8 OVR, 5 BIG
Jaren Jackson Jr. is the son of former NBA player Jaren Jackson, a journeyman wing who played a key role in the Spurs’ 1999 NBA championship. Jackson was a five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American in his senior season of high school. He was productive as a freshman, averaging 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, and three blocks per game. Tom Izzo played Jackson out of position for most of the season, at small forward or power forward. The Spartans fell to Syracuse in the NCAA tourney, 55-53. Jackson was a member of the USA national under 17 team that won the 2016 FIBA World Championship. He was named the Big-10 freshman of the year.
Jackson’s length pops off of the tape right when you turn it on. His wingspan makes him a very effective shot blocker. He has impeccable timing on the weak side when rotating and has been able to block shots as a primary defender as well. For a guy his size, Jackson is a very fluid and coordinated athlete. He runs the floor like a guard and is a violent finisher. Jackson doesn’t go up soft, he aggressively finishes with dunks and strong layups. He flashed a great ability to hit the three-pointer (39.6%) when he is open and in rhythm.
For a guy of his age, Jackson is a fairly advanced offensive player. He is adept at attacking closeouts, is a capable passer, and shows touch with both hands, albeit inconsistently. Jackson’s length, energy, and position make him a lethal offensive rebounder with a pension for putback dunks. He has good activity in the passing lanes and has shown some ability to switch onto perimeter players.
Jackson is a raw player, both mentally and physically. His slight frame allows him to get bullied in the post by stronger players. He struggles on the defensive glass, both getting position and finishing boards. Duke’s Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. and Maryland’s Bruno Fernando dominated him on the offensive glass. His court awareness is sub-par and he occasionally gets lost on the weak side on defense.
Jackson’s shot mechanics are awkward and he gets a minimal arc on his shot. Jackson struggled to shoot three-pointers when he was contested or when it was not on a catch and shoot. His control in the post is lacking; Jackson often turns the ball over off of a move or ends up on the ground. He isn’t disciplined when closing out and is foul prone on defense.
Best NBA Fits
Picking third, Atlanta will be looking to add a star after Luka Doncic and DeAndre Ayton are likely off of the board. Jackson’s incredibly high upside makes him a potential risk pick this high. He is raw but Atlanta has the coaching to develop him into a star. Any player with his physical tools and offensive skill will be so valuable in today’s NBA. Paired with John Collins, Jackson would form one of the most promising big man duos in the NBA.
Dallas is in desperate need of a defensive, high upside center, and a second star. Jackson ticks all of those boxes. He is a rim protector, a high energy defender, and a plus floor spacer day one with the Mavericks. I feel like I’ve said this in every big man profile but he and Dennis Smith Jr. would make a pretty darn good pick and roll duo. Jackson is solid value at the number five pick and a player that the Mavericks could groom into a star.
Memphis is in a major hole. They lack young talent, have two aging stars, are in a bad money situation, and are unwilling to rebuild due to them being a small market. They will undoubtedly draft the player with the highest upside they can and he may be Jackson. He will not be asked to play a huge role right away and can learn and grow under the tutelage of veteran Marc Gasol. And when the time is right, Gasol will hand over the reigns to the young center to be the face of the franchise.
In my opinion, Jackson is the biggest boom or bust prospect in this class. His length, energy, and offensive skill make him a potential future All-NBA caliber player. However, his slight frame and all around polish could see him burn up in flames if he is asked to do too much early or falls into a bad situation. Jaren Jackson Jr. will be a top pick in this NBA draft and could help turn a franchise around.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.