Weight: 201 pounds
School: North Carolina
Position: Small Forward
The reigning ACC Player of the Year who ultimately helped lead North Carolina to the 2017 National Championship, Justin Jackson brings a lot to the table, particularly on the offensive side.
Jackson made major improvements as a shooter in his last year at UNC, shooting nearly 37 percent from three-point range on more than seven attempts. He has a quick release with NBA range and he not only excels spotting up, but is also great on the move, coming off screens and quickly getting into his shooting motion.
Jackson is a high IQ player, who is excellent at reading defenses and finding open spots on the floor off the ball. He also uses this with the ball in his hands as he is a willing passer capable of making great reads and quick decisions to set his teammates up.
Defensively Jackson also made some improvements despite his average athleticism that is a concern. He does a great job at using his length to contest shots on the perimeter and really upped his intensity overall on that end of the floor. He should be great as a help defender as well thanks to his high IQ and communication.
Jackson’s physical attributes are definitely a concern for many. While he has great height and length for an NBA wing, he is just an average athlete overall and struggled at times to keep up with NBA-level wings during his time in college.
His lack of strength is also a concern on both ends of the floor as he can be pushed around by bigger players. He also struggles finishing through contact at the rim and tends to rely on floaters and shots of that nature. This also shows in his lack of rebounding as someone with his height and length should be more of a factor on the glass.
Jackson also needs to improve as a ball-handler. He isn’t much of an isolation player at this time so getting a better handle would diversify his offensive repertoire even more and open up things for him.
Defensively there is a major worry as he isn’t strong enough to bang with the bigger wings, but isn’t quite quick enough to stick with the faster players either. He will work hard on that end and has the potential to make some kind of an impact, but it could be difficult finding players for him to guard.
There have also been some worries about Jackson’s motor. He seemed to lose focus and just be going through the motions at times. This seemed to be less of a concern later in his college career, but there will still be some questions as he comes into this league.
Player Comparison: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Dunleavy was never the greatest athlete, but through his combination of high basketball IQ, shooting, and playmaking was able to have a long NBA career. Jackson would be wise to follow the same formula.
Much like Dunleavy, Jackson is never going to be the best athlete, but he is a great shooter and smart player who can find openings for himself and set up teammates on offense. Players like Jackson will always have a place in the league.
The question for Jackson will be on defense. Like Dunleavy he will struggle to find players to guard, especially with the caliber of athletes in the NBA today. Nonetheless, with his IQ, passing, and shooting, Jackson should be able to have a long career.
Fit with the Lakers
The first box that Jackson checks off for the Lakers is shooting. The Lakers could always use players who can stretch the floor and Jackson is also another player who is capable of playing multiple positions which is key in today’s NBA.
What also makes Jackson a potential fit is the fact that he can play off the ball. The Lakers already have a number of players who need the ball in their hand in D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle, not to mention if they were to draft another guard with the second overall pick.
There are some defensive concerns, but if he is surrounded by the right players Jackson could play a big role and the Lakers could be an ideal fit.