As the NBA looks to strengthen its reliance on the Development League, it’s inevitable that certain players will have a little help in seeing their legends grow.
Take Pierre Jackson, the 5’8” point guard and former Baylor University product whose D-League exploits a season ago helped him garner something of a cult Twitter following.
Now, the New Orleans Pelicans are giving the sweet-shooting Jackson, who is participating in the team's offseason workouts and will likely play in the Las Vegas Summer League next month, his best chance yet at sticking in the Association.
From The New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Nakia Hogan:
After playing briefly on the Pelicans' summer league team last year, Jackson wasn't signed by the team. The Pelicans had hoped to stash Jackson in Europe. But he left his team in France before ever playing a game and returned to the United States.
Back in his home country, Jackson dominated the NBADL, leading the league in scoring at 29.1 points per game (although he didn't win the scoring title because he didn't play in enough games) and 6.2 assists while earning a berth to the league's All-Star game.
I don’t care if you’re 20 playing in an 80-and-over league, those are some sick numbers.
Still, despite the gaudy production, Jackson admitted that his post-Baylor travails were difficult:
It was extremely tough. Of course you are going to have your family and friends in your ear saying this or saying that, but you know I had to stick it out for my family. I had to deal with what was brought to the table. Thankfully that year is over and now I get a chance to get another shot. I didn't plan it to be that way but it all worked out. My name is still where I wanted to be, but it's still not in the league so I'm still trying to get to that point.
Hogan also mentions how Jackson dropped 58 points in a single game. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that if you score 58—five, eight—in a D-League game, you’re bound to get as many shots at The Show as you can handle:
As if it needed to be said, 58 points is a D-League record.
NBA Summer League invite aside, Jackson certainly has his work cut out for him in cracking the rotation for the Pelicans, why with Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Austin Rivers already clogging the depth chart.
Still, all four of them have been mentioned as trade fodder at one time or another over the past few years. New Orleans would be wise to build around the superstar talent of Anthony Davis, but how that process unfolds—and which backcourt mates he’ll be paired with—could change at a moment’s notice.
If you’re the Pelicans, giving arguably the best player in the D-League a good, hard look is a no-brainer, positional logjam be damned.