Justin Jackson NBA Draft 2018: Scouting Report for Orlando Magic's Pick

C.J. Moore@@CJMooreHoopsCollege Basketball National Lead WriterJune 22, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, MD - DECEMBER 01:  Justin Jackson #21 of the Maryland Terrapins dribbles around Vincent Edwards #12 of the Purdue Boilermakers during a college basketball game at the Xfinity Center on December 1, 2017 in College Park, Maryland.  The Boilermakers won 80-75.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic have traded for Justin Jackson in the 2018 NBA draft. The selection originally belonged to the Denver Nuggets with the No. 43 overall pick.

The Magic are banking on the potential that the Maryland product flashed as a freshman, when he averaged 10.5 points and shot 43.8 percent from three-point range. Jackson struggled as a sophomore and was shut down after 11 games because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which required surgery in January. He was averaging close to a double-double (9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds), but he shot only 25 percent from beyond the arc and 36.6 percent overall.

The intrigue with Jackson is his length (a 7'3" wingspan) and the ability to stretch the floor. He can also play multiple positions. Maryland often utilized him as a small-ball 4, which is where he's perhaps best suited to play in the NBA, but he also can play on the wing.

      

Quick hitters

Size: 6'6 ¾"

Weight: 229.4 pounds

Wingspan: 7'3"

Reach: 8'9" 

Pro-player comparison: Jae Crowder

       

Offensive strengths

Jackson got drafted because of his ability as a spot-up shooter. His shoulder bothered him throughout his sophomore season, so it's probably fair to throw those shooting numbers out. Instead, focus on what he did as a freshman, when he made 44.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers.

Jackson did show some improvement as a sophomore in his ability to put the ball on the floor and knock down mid-range jumpers.

He also has the body type to thrive in the mid-post area, and he flashed some improved footwork in the handful of possessions he had in this area of the floor.

This in-between game would serve Jackson well, as finishing around the basket is not his forte.

      

Offensive weaknesses

Jackson is never going to be a volume scorer because he's a so-so ball-handler and is a bit stiff with the ball. He handles it well enough to make straight-line drives, but he does not have blow-by speed and isn't explosive at the rim.

Jackson shot no better than 44.3 percent inside the arc during his two seasons at Maryland, and he finished only 52.1 percent of his shots around the basket in the half court.

Jackson wasn't reliable at Maryland in any scenario offensively outside of spotting up for jumpers. When he tries to create off the bounce, he's too loose with the ball. As a freshman, he assisted on only 6.8 percent of his possessions and had a turnover rate of 14.7. Maryland was trying to play through him more this year, and his assist rate went up (12.7 percent), but so did his turnover rate (21.8 percent).

         

Defensive outlook

This is the side of the ball where Jackson has the most potential. He graded out well as a freshman when he used his length to challenge shots.

Jackson is not that quick laterally, but his activity was impressive as a freshman. He always brought energy and made an effort to cover a lot of ground. The possession below shows the promise of what Jackson can be when he's aware and playing hard. He tags the roller and recovers to the shooter, forces his man to put the ball on the floor with a hard closeout and then finishes off the possession by cutting off a drive, leading to a bad pass and turnover.

However, the sophomore version of Jackson didn't play with the same kind of vigor. He allowed too much space on his contests and almost looked a step slower than his freshman self.

Jackson did improve as a rebounder as a sophomore, with his defensive rebounding rate going up from 16.9 to 21.1 percent. With his length, broad shoulders and strength, his rebounding should translate. His biggest challenge will be trying to guard on the perimeter against quicker players. If he doesn't bring energy, he'll get cooked in the NBA.

         

Projected role: Second-unit forward

Jackson still needs some polish to his game, which makes him a candidate to spend some time in the G League the next year or two. Whether he makes it in the NBA will largely depend on if he can shoot the ball like he did as a freshman. If he can make jumpers, he has potential as a stretch 4 and perhaps a small-ball 5 because of his wingspan and strength.

It would have made sense for Jackson to return to Maryland and get more seasoning there, but he was banking on the NBA putting more stock in his freshman year. Now that he's been drafted, it's hard to blame him.

                      

Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference. Measurements courtesy of NBA.com

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