A Closer Look at Pierre Jackson

Mike Stobe

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?

Biography

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.

Skills

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:

Jackson was the only guy here ranked in the top 30 -- and it showed. Virtually every GM I spoke with thought he was the best player in attendance. Not only did he show off his elite quickness and athletic ability, but he also showed off his floor general skills.

I was impressed with his ability to run the pick-and-roll. His speed allowed him to fly by defenders (Kentucky's Julius Mays was on him for most of the game), and he hit several big jumpers.

Projection

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:

Season School Conf G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% PProd ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/40
2008-09 Washington Pac-10 35 .511 .463 14.8 1.4 1.6 3.0
2009-10 Washington Pac-10 35 1089 20.1 .540 .488 2.1 11.9 7.0 19.5 1.9 0.3 13.1 27.0 560 111.9 99.5 3.0 1.6 4.7 .171
2010-11 Washington Pac-10 35 1115 22.8 .563 .517 2.5 9.5 6.0 32.7 2.3 0.2 16.6 26.2 625 117.4 100.8 4.0 1.5 5.5 .199

versus Pierre Jackson:

Season School Conf G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% PProd ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/40
2011-12 Baylor Big 12 38 1172 21.9 .595 .552 3.5 7.5 5.6 37.3 3.5 0.3 23.4 24.6 573 113.6 99.6 3.6 1.7 5.3 .181
2012-13 Baylor Big 12 36 1252 26.0 .574 .514 2.2 9.5 6.0 40.7 2.5 0.0 16.4 29.5 749 117.5 99.5 5.3 1.7 7.1 .226

Now this is what Thomas has done in his first two years with the Kings:

Season Age Tm Lg Pos G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
2011-12 22 SAC NBA PG 65 1656 17.6 .574 .521 3.0 8.4 5.6 25.6 1.6 0.4 13.9 19.8 116 113 4.2 0.0 4.3 .124
2012-13 23 SAC NBA PG 79 2122 17.5 .574 .509 1.5 7.3 4.4 24.6 1.6 0.1 12.7 23.0 115 115 5.2 -0.1 5.0 .114

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.

Fit

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.

Conclusion

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.

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