|Like many point guards in this draft, Pierre Jackson is small but physical. (USA Today Sports)|
Position: Point Guard
DraftExpress Prediction: No. 2 in the second round, No. 32 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Synopsis: In just two years in the conference, Pierre Jackson became one of the most decorated active players in the Big 12. Jackson, who earned numerous preseason and all-conference awards, emerged as Baylor's motor and one of the most important junior college transfers in recent history as a junior. Living in the heart of Big 12 country, I can personally attest Jackson is the real deal. It was not often that he encountered a defense he couldn't shred with pinpoint passes and precise, deceptive dribbles, enhanced further by his quickness and athleticism.
Among NBA-size frontcourts, some may worry about Jackson's court vision and finding his way through the trees or, rather, finding his teammates in between them. The 21-year-old fires off 7.8 assists per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, but that column should be the last of scouts' worries. Jackson's strong first step will command respect and his effectiveness in the pick-and-roll will allow him to facilitate and affect the game without scoring himself. His diminutive size will make it tough for Jackson to score baskets inside the paint, but he posted a 40.8 three-point percentage in his first year with the Bears and, although it dipped by nearly five percent as a senior, Jackson has shown a returned efficiency on perimeter jumpers. Not only is he able to create these shots for himself off the dribble, he can also serve as an effective catch-and-shoot performer, making a pairing with a passing big man ideal and two-PG sets possible for whichever team selects him. His scoring prowess is not relegated to behind the three-point arc, however, as he led Baylor with 19.8 points per game as a senior using a mixed bag of tricks.
All that being said, Jackson is nowhere near ready to take a seat at the helm of an NBA squad. He must control his turnovers (3.7 per 40, pace adjusted) and, as an extension, improve his decision-making, particularly in clutch moments when he is prone to forcing shots or moving with impatience. The most glaring hole in Jackson's game coming into pre-draft workouts was his defense and it continues to be an issue, as Jackson himself admits (see below). While at Baylor, he exhibited lackadaisical and sometimes unconcerned defensive play, which will only be magnified once he rises to the professional level of play. His sub-6' size doesn't help in the slightest on this end of the floor, either.
If he stays on the defense-optional path he currently travels, Jackson could be an archetypical bench player, supplying an offensive spark to a second unit teeming with other one-way oriented players. There is an upside to Jackson that, if placed on the right team, could make him a starter before his rookie year expires. It is contingent on the incumbent point guards, yes, but much of it also relies on Jackson's commitment to improving his all-around game.
Quote to Note: "I feel like [lack of size] shouldn't be an issue at all. You know, Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas have proved that throughout this past year. Like I said, I think I can play with the best of them. The taller guards gotta guard us, too. That's all I got to say about that." - Jackson disregarding the negative connotation of being a shorter guard in the NBA.
Bonus Quote(!): "Mediocre. I'm still working on it. Once I get the chance to play against the best, my competitive level is gonna get that much higher. Like I said, I'm still working on it... I'm just enjoying this [combine] process and just trying to get better." - Jackson offering the kind of honesty prospects rarely show during pre-draft interviews. Both quotes via DraftExpress.
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