Provided there are no hitches in the Jrue Holiday draft day trade, the Pelicans will officially add another point guard, Pierre Jackson, to their roster on July 11th. So who is the 42nd pick of the 2013 draft, and more importantly, how does he fit on our roster?
Pierre Deshawn Jackson hails from sin city, Las Vegas. When he wasn't helping his grandmother raise his two younger brothers, he was busy becoming one of the best players in the region. After his senior year of high school, he led the state of Nevada in assists and earned first team all-state honors.
Despite the accolades, Jackson had to attend a junior college upon graduation, his academic records didn't allow him into NCAA Division schools. Unfortunately, the struggles didn't stop there, as during his freshman season, he ended up shattering his elbow, requiring a metal plate and seven screws. Once he was able to get back on the court, he wasn't able to shoot the ball well due to limited range of motion in that elbow.
Instead of walking away from the game, Jackson worked endlessly on becoming a better floor general. Then, in the summer before his sophomore season, his shot returned. This combination allowed him to have a fantastic second season at the College of Southern Idaho: 18.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists. During the NJCAA tournament, he fared even better, as in 4 games he averaged 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists -- helping the Eagles win their third national championship. He was awarded the NJCAA Player of the Year, and JucoRecruiting named him the top national junior college player.
Jackson's stellar play led him to be recruited by the Baylor Bears. During his junior season, he averaged 13.8 points and 5.9 assists and was selected to the second team of the Big 12. In his senior year, while still largely coming off the bench as a reserve, Jackson led the conference in scoring (19.8) and assists (7.1). This was the first time a player had accomplished this feat from any of the power 6 conferences since Jason Terry's 1998-99 season at Arizona. In addition to garnering first team Big 12 honors, he was one of four players to repeat as a Bob Cousy Finalist.
In the 2013 NIT tournament, Jackson led the Bears to their first postseason championship in the school's 107 history. With averages of 19.6 points, 11 assists, 2.2 threes and ridiculous 7.8 freethrows made, he deservingly walked away with the NIT Most Outstanding Player Award.
The first thing every analyst points to is Pierre Jackson's size -- at best, he stands 5'10''. He will undoubtedly face plenty of challenges guarding NBA competition. However, for what he lacks in height, he makes up with incredible athleticism. Thus, while he may struggle on Monty's favorite side of the floor, he'll probably give the opposition their fair share of issues trying to corral him offensively. For instance, witness his 42 inch vertical:
Jackson can score from anywhere on the floor, as he is a solid shooter out to the three point line. His explosiveness and shiftiness will allow him to get good looks in the paint. On his jumpshots, he displays good mechanics, gets good lift and his shoulders are very square to the rim, regardless which way his momentum is taking him:
Here is some solid all around footage with glimpses of his passing ability:
During the NBA's first workout of the draft in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Jackson shined:
Players, even more diminutive in stature, have gone on to carve out significant minutes in the NBA: Earl Boykins, Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas, to name a few. And there is no reason to think Pierre Jackson won't be able to follow at least in their footsteps. In watching the video footage above, one gets an immediate sense that Jackson understands spacing and separation, much needed traits for those dealing with a size disadvantage.
As far as his advanced numbers, Jackson scored very well at Baylor. Among players with over 1000 minutes played, his 26.0 PER ranked 29th in the country. His Per-40 numbers are solid: 22.9 (P40), 7.9 (A40), 1.7 (S40) and a 49.0 FG% (2PP). They would have been even stronger were it not for a severe slump in January.
Chad Ford ranked him the 34th overall best available draft prospect (7th @ PG) and often echoed he was a back of the 1st round draft pick. Kevin Pelton's Warp model ranked him as the 11th best player (2.1), just .1 behind Trey Burke. Moreover, this grade is fairly better than several point guards chosen well ahead of him like Michael-Carter Williams (2.0) and Shane Larkin (1.6).
For comparative purposes, let's examine Isaiah Thomas, a player that exhibits a similar skill set:
versus Pierre Jackson:
Now this is what Thomas has done in his first two years with the Kings:
Thomas has struggled defensively, spending large minutes against other starting caliber point guards. However, offensively, his effectiveness has carried over rather well. At the very least, Jackson appears primed to be a valuable offensive force, but in a best case scenario, a number of his defensive issues could be minimized simply by playing alongside better help defenders. We all know Monty will work hard to ensure he's surrounded by a better able and willing cast than Thomas has had in Sacramento.
Currently, the Pelicans have Jrue Holiday, Greivis Vasquez and Brian Roberts at point guard. Additionally, they have combo guards in Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers and, perhaps in the near future, Tyreke Evans. So how does Jackson fit?
As you're aware from all the articles here @atthehive, the roster is far from being settled. My guess is that at least one of Greivis Vasquez or Eric Gordon will find new homes. Brian Roberts, while he was a nice relevation a season ago, doesn't possess the upside of Jackson. He's slower, older and far less athletic. Also, there is a chance Roberts becomes either a trade chip or cap space casualty, if the Pelicans need to trim the roster to stay under the luxury tax.
Jackson represents a true change of pace sparkplug that many teams always prefer to have on the bench. Moreover, one that already posseses valuable experience winning and playing large under the brightest of lights. Unfortunately, it might be difficult to gauge his value until training camp. He suffered an acute patella injury just prior to the draft and is reportedly 50/50 on participating in the upcoming Summer League.
Unsurprisingly, Pierre Jackson has gotten little fanfare since it first became known New Orleans was his probable destination. Names like Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Tyreke Evans will do that.
Yet, at some point in the season, don't be shocked if Jackson is able to carve out a role on this team, and, in turn, become a fan favorite. Little guys who play at a different speed and with greater effort, can earn both praise and disdain rather quickly. Just ask J.J. Barea.