In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 33 picks.
Today’s edition focuses on Maryland sophomore Justin Jackson.
Justin Jackson is a large human being and most likely has NBA scouts drooling at his body type at the next level. Maryland’s best returning player was a preseason pick to land in the Draft Lottery but was hindered by a torn labrum for most of this season.
Jackson is expected to be fully healthy for the start of the 2018-19 NBA season and was healthy enough to participate in private workouts, leading scouts to believe he’s nearing 100%.
Jackson, as a freshman, was phenomenal for Maryland as he regularly was the best defender on the floor with his legit 3-4 size while also shooting the three at a lighting hot clip of 44 percent.
The big forward gave the 2017 draft a try but ultimately decided to return to Maryland (after the pre-draft process) where he predictably struggled while trying to play through the extensive injury.
Lets take a look at some of Jackson’s strengths and weaknesses overall.
As mentioned before, Jackson owns some standout numbers in the size department. His 6’7, 220-pound frame is definitely something for NBA teams to build off of but it is his 7’3 wingspan that is a potential game changer on defense and that, in theory, will be his biggest draw in the draft.
It might be a facade but Jackson actually was unstoppable from the three point line in his freshman season before going down with injury. His sophomore year was not so kind, as he only hit 25 percent of shots from long distance (albeit with the torn labrum), and it is difficult to discern which is closer to his true projection. His true NBA three point shooting path is somewhere in the middle (though the swing could be crucial to his future) but his 3-and-D ability will be captivating should the jumper develop.
Jackson is a great rebounder as you might imagine with his size. He led the Terps with eight rebounds per game in his short time playing this season and will most likely succeed in getting the tough boards at the next level as well.
Jackson is still one of the more raw prospects out there and the extended injury absence does not help at all in that regard. His offensive game, outside of spot up three point shots, is somewhat of a mess and his passing ability leaves much to be desired.
Even with Jackson’s gift for size and tools, he very rarely utilizes it, even with a mismatch. Jackson doesn’t recognize open lanes to the basket right away and will sometimes force the jump shot.
Overall, Jackson has the body type and, at the age of 21, will most certainly get picked somewhere in the draft. However, at this point he is a wild card/lottery ticket for some team to take a chance on in the mid second round.
He would potentially do better to remain at Maryland for one more season and try to rehabilitate some of his value lost by his labrum injury. I would guess Jackson isn’t in the Hawks sights as things stand right now but could enter that if the Hawks were to acquire another second round pick or trade down.