Previous Scouting Reports:
Let me tell you why this is a bittersweet scouting report for me to do…
As a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers I love this kid. Jackson is a mature leader with a knack for creating his own shot and a lot of defensive potential. He has the size and skill to be a very good complementary wing next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
As a fan of the Oregon Ducks, this kid helped spoil Oregon’s chance at a National Championship game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Neil Olshey has shown a pull towards athletes that spend a few years in college before making the jump to the league. That maturity and development is apparent in Jackson’s game.
Check out my scouting report on Jackson and follow me on twitter (@PortlandGarrett) to let me know if you think he would be a good fit as a Blazer.
Scouting Report: Justin Jackson
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Weight: 201 lbs.
Noted Measurables: 6’11” wingspan, 8’8” standing reach, 35.5” max vertical
School: University of North Carolina
Experience: 3 year starter, 118 games
College Statistics: 118 games, 13.8 ppg, 4.1 rbp, 2.6 apg, 46% fg, 34% 3 point (Junior Year – 18.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.8 apg, 37% 3 point)
College Highlights: 2017 NCAA Champion, Consensus first-team All-American (2017), ACC Player of the Year (2017), First-team All-ACC (2017), ACC All-Freshman team (2015)
- Improved Shooting Stroke. There’s a huge reason that Jackson was selected as the ACC Player of the Year in 2017, and that would be his improved shooting, specifically beyond the arc. As a sophomore, Jackson shot just 29.2% from beyond the 3-point line. As a junior, Jackson improved that to 37%. That improvement has caught the eye of scouts around the league and could be the reason that Jackson may not be available for Portland at the 15th
- Offensive Mindset. Even before Jackson improved his game from beyond the arc, he was dangerous on the offensive end of the court with his ability to create his own shot, his deadly floater game, and his willingness to move without the ball. Jackson’s offensive skillset is perfectly fitted for a fast-paced and outside-in offense in the NBA. In other words, he would fit seamlessly into what the Blazers are trying to do.
- Defensive Tools. Jackson is not a great defender, but he has the potential to be. I realize that that P-word of potential can be a scary one when you are talking about investing a draft pick because of it, but it is something you have to look at with Jackson. He is tall and long for the position. On the wing and as a pick-and-roll defender, Jackson will be able to hold his own in the NBA. He closes out well on outside shooters and his wingspan helps him disrupt passing lanes.
- Can Dominate Ball. This is something that can be said about a lot of the guys in the NBA Draft. The reason that they are getting drafted is because they were likely the most talented player on their team. When you are the most talented player on your team, there are times when you need to take over a game. In the NBA, everybody was the best player on their college team. Jackson is going to have to find his spot in the offense and be content with that. Personally, I don’t think this is going to be an issue for Jackson, but it is something to keep an eye on.
- Body Has Reached Potential. At the USA Basketball camp in 2013 Jackson weighed 201 pounds. At the NBA Draft Combine in 2017 Jackson weighed 201 pounds. I realize that the training staffs in the NBA are the best at what they do and they can help guys be in peak physical condition, but it sure looks like Jackson’s body is what it is. This has been detrimental to him in his time at North Carolina against bigger wings, and in all post defense situations. Guys are only going to get heavier and stronger in the NBA so that is something Jackson has to be ready for.
- No Position Flexibility. This might be one of the biggest things that keeps teams away from Jackson. Like I noted above, his body really hasn’t changed since he was in high school. That limits any hope that he can play any stretch-4, which is a coveted position around the league. Jackson will be slotted in as a small forward and not likely to be able to play anything else.
NBA Comparison: Danny Granger – This comparison may not excite many people, but let me remind you that Granger was an All-Star and the Most Improved Player in 2009. Granger has a similar shooting development in college as Jackson. They both started as dreadful 3-point shooters, and developed that part of their games to be strengths. Granger went on to make 1006 3-pointers and shoot 38% from beyond the arc in the NBA. The main thing that differentiates these two is that Granger developed a bit of a bigger body in the NBA. He made it up to around 220 pounds and was able to play some stretch-4.
Where he would fit in Portland: A lot of attention is being paid to the need for a power forward and a backup center. I agree that those are needs, but I would also argue that the Blazers have a lot of wings, but not really one that the Blazers feel 100% confident in building around. Maurice Harkless has been rumored to be in trade talks, Allen Crabbe has a huge contract that the team would like to shed eventually, and Evan Turner was hampered by injuries all of last season. Jackson could come in and compete with all of those guys to enter the rotation. I believe that Jackson will eventually be a starting small forward in the NBA.
If this is the caliber player you are building around then you will be doomed to mediocrity.