Leading up to the NBA Draft we will be analyzing scouting reports for various players who have entered their name in this year’s NBA Draft. The focus of these articles will be on prospects who we find most intriguing and feel readers need to become more familiar with. Please let us know if you want any players specifically @edupridepress. All stats and videos are via KenPom, ESPN, DraftExpress, and YouTube.
Weight: 201 lbs
Projected: 13 (CPP Big Board) 15 (CPP Mock Draft)
Background: Justin Jackson is a familiar face to all as he has helped the Tar Heels go to the National Championship Game two years in a row. The versatile forward took major steps in his junior season and went from a mid second round pick to a lottery pick with his hard work and development over the past year. I had a chance to see Jackson in person when the Tar Heels played IU and Jackson carried the Tar Heel offensive for long stretches of that game keeping it within striking distance while matching up against one of the best defenders in the country in OG Anunoby.
Strengths: Justin Jackson’s jump shot was the biggest surprise for Roy Williams this year. Jackson shot just 29% from deep during his sophomore campaign but his hard work in the gym paid off as he shot over 37% from deep this season. Jackson is a prime example of how coming back to school and working hard can really pay off. Instead of looking for a shot on a summer league team, Jackson’s biggest concern is which lottery team will take him. Jackson is your prototypical small forward with his height, weight, and speed all right in line with league expectations for that position. Jackson’s long range shot is not the only improved part of his game as Jackson has added a quality midrange game and nice floater. He will not be pushed around by the bigger players at the next level as his offensive repertoire is built to guard against shot blockers. Jackson is one of the most polished players in the first round and has plug and play ability with the potential to play starters minutes depending on the team that drafts him.
Weaknesses: With Jackson being one of the most polished players in the first round conversation the weaknesses are not extremely glaring. Jackson’s lack of elite athleticism will lead him to have trouble on defense. The only situation that Jackson wasn’t readily put in during his three years at UNC was guarding elite small forwards. The college game has as dearth of quality small forwards playing the 3 and Jackson was forced to guard in 3 guard lineups for most of his career. Jackson’s other weakness is his age. As a junior he will be 2-3 years younger than some of the freshman drafted around him. Some players see their stock fall as the NBA tends to favor the younger prospects.
Comparison: Matt Barnes
I am halfway done with my player breakdown articles and the first half has provided me with very easy player comparisons. Matt Barnes played the small forward in the NBA for many years (he is still puttering around with Golden State but that doesn’t really count). He was always a reliable starter that was extremely consistent. Barnes never set the world on fire but played his roll and always was key to his team’s success. Jackson will not set the world on fire but he can be a consistent starting 3 man for a NBA team for years.
Be sure to check out our other Top 30 Breakdowns and NBA Draft Charts: