I'm not sure how closely you've been following the D-League, but Pierre Jackson has been absolutely tearing it up. It's not even right anymore. He's already hit the 40-point mark six times this season.
After two years in junior college and two years with the Baylor Bears, Jackson now finds himself with the Idaho Stampede, and he's putting up some mind-blowing offensive numbers in his first season. On Monday, the NBA announced Jackson will be one of 20 players to participate in the D-League All-Star Game later this month.
|College vs. D-League|
|FG Percentage||Points||Rebounds||Assists||3PT Percentage|
|Idaho Stampede, 2013-14||.448||29.1||3.5||6.2||.358|
|Baylor Bears, 2012-13||.427||19.8||3.8||7.1||.359|
Jackson didn't completely come out of nowhere. He led Baylor to an NIT championship in 2012-13 and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after averaging 19.6 points and 11.0 assists per game.
However, Jackson saw a number of point guards go before him in the draft, from college standouts Shane Larkin, Isaiah Canaan, Ray McCallum Jr. and Nate Wolters to international stars like Dennis Schroeder and Nemanja Nedovic.
So what's the deal? Despite putting up monster numbers at every level from junior college to Division I to the D-League, Jackson just hasn't gotten all that much love.
Credit that to the fear associated with sub-6'0" guards. Jackson measured in at 5'10.5" with an equally tiny 5'10" wingspan, numbers that cloud his offensive outlook and crush his defensive potential.
With a perceived best-case projection close to Nate Robinson, the potential reward didn't appear to be worth the cost of a first-round pick.
However, while Jackson isn't the same caliber athlete as Robinson is, he might have a better floor game while offering similar offensive firepower.
And it all starts with his blurry quickness and skill set off the dribble.
Jackson is really, really quick—especially with the ball in his hands. He's one of those guards who's just impossible to stay in front of.
I've always liked to refer to him as a video-game guard whose turbo speed is activated from tipoff to final buzzer.
With the ability to beat any defender off the dribble and penetrate the perimeter defense, Jackson constantly finds himself in playmaking position.
Drive-and-kicks, drive-and-dump-offs, floaters, pull-ups—once he's gotten into the heart of the defense, Jackson creates scoring opportunities for himself or for teammates by triggering the help.
His decision-making could use work, but it's been two years since we've seen Jackson in a lineup where he isn't the No. 1 scoring option. With better talent around him, he shouldn't have to force as many tough shots or passes.
Offensively, it will be those turnovers and bad shots that he'll need to avoid.
Pick-and-Roll Weapon, Pull-Up Threat
Jackson is an awfully tough cover out of pick-and-roll sets. He's a triple threat as a facilitator, attacker and shooter.
Though a capable passer, it's really Jackson's scoring ability that drives the threat he poses coming off a high ball screen.
His pull-up jumper is deadly, and it's got three-point NBA range. It's a weapon that could ultimately make or break him as a prospect, given how tough it's going to be to get easy buckets around the rim.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Jackson had an adjusted field-goal percentage of 44.3 percent on jumpers off the dribble his senior year. That ranked in the top 20 percentiles of college players, via DraftExpress.
Jackson can stop and pop from anywhere on the floor, and it's those high ball screens that give him just enough room to gather and release.
Jackson routinely makes defenders pay for going under screens, something they naturally have to do to keep him from turning the corner and exploding to the rim.
With Jackson running the pick-and-roll, chances are someone is getting an open look on that possession.
Gets to any Spot on the Floor
The scariest part about Jackson, and ultimately the reason why he's been able to put up so many points for the Stampede, is that he's able to create his own shot whenever he wants.
It's a gift and a curse—a talent that could lead to instant offense or bad shot selection.
Jackson's quickness, along with his ability to change speeds and direction on a dime, allows him to get to any spot on the floor, separate and elevate for a shot. And when Jackson is on, he's able to convert many of those shots and put up points in bunches.
Step-backs, pull-ups, runners—Jackson can easily separate for shots he's comfortable taking.
He's got microwave potential; rather than labeling him a point guard, Jackson might project more as an offensive spark who can heat up and generate offense on demand.
With New Orleans reluctant to call him up, and his value building in the D-League, the possibility of a trade has recently surfaced. According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Jackson's representatives have gotten "permission from the New Orleans Pelicans to pursue a trade."
"I'm disappointed the Pelicans have decided not to call up Pierre," Jackson's agent Colin Bryant said, via USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt. "He has proved he is ready for the NBA and deserves a call-up."
"I can only take it one way, try to stay positive through it all, stay positive, continue to play the way I'm playing and win games," Jackson said, via Spears.
Though it's tough to say who might be a realistic suitor, teams with shallow backcourt depth like the Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies or Phoenix Suns could all use a high-octane guard like Jackson to handle the ball and score off the bench.
Based on what he's done at Baylor and what he's doing in the D-League, it seems fairly obvious his offensive game is up to NBA standards. It's Jackson's defensive outlook that's likely to determine his role once getting called up. Given the size and length of today's point guards, Jackson just doesn't match up physically.
But if he can prove to coaches he's not a defensive liability, his offensive game should be potent enough to find him an NBA rotation.