Why Stephen Jackson Must Prove Himself Immediately
The deadline deal that sent Stephen Jackson to San Antonio surprised everyone. While it was no surprise that the Warriors—who had just acquired Jackson—wanted no part of him, few could have predicted his landing spot would be with the Spurs.
Since arriving, Jackson has made it clear that there is no team or coach that he would rather play with than Pop and the Spurs. His true NBA career started with the Spurs, and this was the location, team and coach with which he won his first and only ring.
However, Jackson can promise the organization whatever he pleases, but nothing will be accomplished until he proves himself on the hardwood. And if he truly wants to bring the Spurs to glory, he will have to provide a spark immediately.
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Stephen Jackson is a head case. He has a low basketball IQ and his dramatics are barely worth his talent. So why would the Spurs be willing to trade Richard Jefferson and a first-round pick in order to acquire such a lowly player?
That is exactly the argument many analysts made when declaring the Spurs "losers" of the trade deadline.
However, if you look past the antics he causes on and off the court, Stephen Jackson is an extremely talented player. He has a fantastic jump shot, persistence on the defensive end and, most importantly, a desire to win.
The problem is containing the head case inside of Jackson. However, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Gregg Popovich can work magic. Did you ever wonder why the Jackson drama started after he left San Antonio? Its because Gregg Popovich can work wonders. Jackson respects Pop, and would surrender his championship ring before seeing Pop lose his trust in him.
Jackson will need to show his talents in order to prove to the doubters that not only is he worth Jefferson and a first-round pick, but the Spurs just made the steal of the deadline by acquiring him.
His Role Demands It
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While Popovich is very good at transitioning players into the offense, and not messing up chemistry, he has made it clear that this is not the case with Jackson.
Newly acquired Boris Diaw has made a slow transition into the Spurs rotation, but Jackson jumped right into the mix. Unlike Diaw, he does not have time to develop chemistry with the rest of the team. He had the chance nine years ago. Since joining the roster, Jackson has gone right to business, receiving over 20 minutes per game.
He has become their go-to guy off the bench, and if something were to happen to Manu, Jackson suddenly finds himself as the team's primary shooting guard.
So far, Jackson has been highly productive with San Antonio, matching his season averages with Milwaukee, despite playing less minutes.
However, this productivity must continue, if Jackson wants to prove that he is worth his while.
Live Up to the Hype
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Many people criticized the front office's deadline-day transaction. On the other hand, many people loved it, especially fans.
Many people looked into the team's history, saw how great a factor Jackson was to the team's 2003 title, and immediately gave the deal a thumbs up.
Still, they overlooked the poor season that Jackson was having with the Bucks. With his lowest averages since winning the title with San Antonio, Stephen Jackson was not looking like a player to consider a "franchise-changer."
Now, this is not to say that the Spurs made a bad move—when in fact they made a terrific move. What I am saying is to not get caught up in the hype, because while the deal could ameliorate the team's title odds, it could also come back to bite them, if Jackson does not live up to the hype.
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Stephen Jackson can be placed in many different categories when determining the type of player he is. The most obvious choice is a player whose game coincides with what is occurring in his head.
Unhappy in Milwaukee, Jackson was having a terrible season. However, when he joined the Spurs' roster, a boost in confidence was noticeable, and this clearly translated to his on-the-court playing style.
If Jackson can get himself on the right track, there is no telling what remarkable feats he can accomplish. He has already started off on the right foot in San Antonio, and if this continues, Jackson may very well turn himself into the player he once was.
The Spurs need him to return to his glory days, and they need him to do it fast. If he can continue to provide an offensive and defensive spark off the bench soon, then the Spurs could very easily beat out the Thunder as the best in the West.