The New Orleans Pelicans walked away with just one pick from the 2017 NBA Draft: Frank Jackson. How do you feel about that, and more importantly, how much hope do you have for this former BlueDevil’s future in the league?
When the team you are grading is selecting purely in the 2nd round, it's kind of like being an elementary school theater critic. Sure, the sets are crude, lines get flubbed, and the PA sucks, but you have to understand that a Tony Award winning performance can't be expected. You just have to hope that at least one or two elements make the show worthwhile.
Frank Jackson has flaws — a stress reaction, which will cause a lot of overreaction in these parts — but he also has skills that had him projected by many to be drafted in the first round. Jackson was solid from deep last season, converting on 39.2% of his attempts. He has a quick first step, an effective crossover and explosion when heading to the rim, which gives him two very solid skills for Chris Finch's offense.
DraftExpress says, "Jackson made his mark at Duke with 60% of his shot attempts coming from the perimeter in the half court according to Synergy Sports Technology, but also scored with solid consistency attacking the basket. Doing most of his damage playing off the ball attacking closeouts, the Lone Peak (UT) product found some success operating out of the pick and roll, and in hand off situations as well seeing some action playing on the ball as well."
Perimeter shooting, off ball cuts and hand offs project to be key to making Finch's system work. Jackson checks those boxes and he also finishes well through contact and in traffic. At this point in his development Jackson is not suited for any extended time as "the" play maker on any unit. He seems to not see the floor well, has trouble finding teammates off of penetration and does not handle traps well.
With the way the draft unfolded, I fully expect the Pelicans to retain Jrue Holiday or to acquire a proven lead guard either in free agency or via trade. Holiday or his replacement, Quinn Cook and Jordan Crawford combined with a heavy dose of Point Boogie, diminishes the need for Frank Jackson to play with the ball in his hands. However, if he is able to become an adequate ball handler in a couple of years, this pick could be more buttery than the popcorn at the Isidore Newman School auditorium — I'm betting they have truffle butter popcorn.
Still any play making he would provide is a bonus. While that weakness doesn't scare me much, I am worried about his lack of defensive versatility. Jackson seems to only be suited to guard the one spot, which throws a wrench in the Pelicans switch heavy defensive scheme. That being said, he doesn't look bad when defending ones on the ball. This lack of versatility mainly becomes a factor when he plays with other small guards. Jrue Holiday or E'Twaun Moore can easily cover up Jackson's flaws on defense, but it will be hard to play him with Cook or Crawford without giving up a lot on the defensive end.
While I liked other players on the board perhaps a little more, I think this is a solid pick by Dell. It's two years in a row that he's acquired a player in the second round that many thought would be picked in the 20s. Also, if you factor in that this draft haul really consists of DeMarcus Cousins and Frank Jackson — that's killing it. Dell is the inverted Ainge — scored an All-Star with basically no assets.
I really, really like this move. While I recognize some are bummed out by the foot surgery and his entering the draft as a freshman who would fall to the second round, what if that's why the Pelicans were able to scoop up Jackson? For one, there were more freshmen drafted in the first round of this draft than ever before; you can hardly blame one for slipping through the cracks and seeping into the second. In another class, Jackson is easily a late-first selection. Then, there's the matter of the surgery. This bothers me more, but hey, Josh Hart wasn't available. I can cope.
Jackson's positives far outweigh his negatives. He's an explosive, powerful guard with a controlled finish; he's a long-range option, with a jumper that he can work both off a pick or on a catch-and-shoot; he's streaky, but he knows when he is, leading to some big games but rarely inefficient ones; he's physically phenomenal, with hops and strength and room to grow. All that sounds good to me.
Yes, Jackson needs to develop some more point guard skills, but hey, he's 19. To put that in context, Buddy Hield (God bless him) is already 23. There's a reason freshman are so popular in the draft. Getting a promising, impressive talent in the second-round leaves me just one option. I tip my hat (one that will soon be the flashy-while-classy look rocked by last night's selections) to Dell Demps.
Frank Jackson is already injured and will not play in summer league. No, seriously. He's already recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Did I mention the big draw is his explosive athleticism? That he has questionable decision-making, inconsistent defensive effort, and a pretty low basketball IQ? Dell Demps hit for the cycle on things Dell Demps always complains about on his roster after the games start being played!
Dell Demps has a type. Think a less celebrated (and already injured!) Austin Rivers. Or mid-career Eric Gordon. Slasher. Poor passer. Explosive athleticism (Gordon was quite the dunker before his knees ceased to exist). Physical tools to be a quality defender but lacking in the areas of consistent effort and basketball understanding. Has good shooting touch.
Frank Jackson might pan out. His injury could heal well and never bother him again. But, he played on a stacked Duke team (two teammates went in the lottery!) under a highly respected coaching staff and his ability to move the ball and general BBIQ is a question mark. I'll give this pick a C because Jackson was slotted around here and the potential exists. I'm just doubtful New Orleans is the place such potential will be achieved.
Jonny: Thumbs up (I truly hate draft grades, sue me.)
I'm sorry Frank Jackson.... OOOOOO I am fo-reaaaaaaaal.
I love the move, especially after shipping Tim Frazier to the Wizards before the draft. I first felt uneasy when Dell Demps shipped off Frazier, a guard that seemed to flourish when he pushed the pace. For Dell to package a couple of second round picks to get a versatile guard regarded as a first rounder definitely exceeded my expectations for the night.
Hopefully, Frank Jackson is "fo-reaaaaaaal!"
Zachary: C. Err...a D. No, a C.
Look I know nothing about Frank Jackson, and honestly, I had never heard of him until draft night and had to remind myself he's not the Kansas guy. The only time I might have seen Jackson play was when Duke lost to South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, but who remembers that, right?
The Pelicans came into the draft needing point guard insurance in case Jrue Holiday walks and I guess Jackson provides that? Or maybe not because DraftExpress says he's more of a score-first point guard that's probably a shooting guard in the future. That doesn't sound like New Orleans solved anything if Holiday leaves.
New Orleans needs a facilitator to feed their two monster big men and Jackson wasn't that guy at Duke. But that's the cool thing about the draft, guys you've never heard of grow into people you never expected they could become.
One of most common complaints heard about this front office over the years is that they’ve shown a preference for win-now personnel, and it culminated last summer when the Pelicans picked Buddy Hield ahead of Jamal Murray. Cheick Diallo was an exception, yet he was an acceptable choice because all-world Anthony Davis was ahead of him on the depth chart, offering the chance for necessary development.
This time around, no immediate help was selected ahead of Jackson in the draft, and with the roster possessing holes while entering perhaps its most vital season to date, I already see a bunch of negative assessments. Or, maybe because he was on few radars and didn't sit towards the top of wish lists, he just has to be a bad draft choice, right?
Look, I hated reading about the injury news too, but if Duke’s program decided Jackson could finish the season on a bad foot, I’ve got a newsflash for you: his stress reaction was far from any bad case scenario.
Alright, let’s get to my favorite argument in support of the Pelicans pick in Jackson: With all the stopgap players we’ve seen walk out onto the floor the last two seasons, fans should welcome the sight of real NBA potential that has a chance to blossom into a core piece.
Don't necessarily know about at No. 21, but Frank Jackson fits the Thunder's athletic profile: pic.twitter.com/wLfzxKHQzT— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) June 22, 2017
Frank Jackson is the same height and weight as Deron Williams coming out of Illinois. Longer wingspan. Jumps SEVEN inches higher.— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) June 20, 2017
Jackson put these wonderful abilities and measurements to fantastic use, posting one of the most efficient seasons you’ll ever see out of a freshman guard in a major conference. Just to name a few, his 59.8 true shooting percentage bested names this season like Dennis Smith Jr., Malik Monk and Markelle Fultz.
Need I remind anyone that Jamal Murry was often called out for a lousy assist-to-turnover ratio and an inability to play defense just one year ago?
Well, if there's one theme for the Pelicans this upcoming season, it's swinging for the fences, and that is very much the Frank Jackson pick. At the NBA combine, he showed some extreme athleticism, hitting a max vert of 42 inches, but wasn’t able to show much else during the draft process because of a foot injury. This is either a good or bad sign. The bad ones are obvious — they're the usual signs that hang over the Pelicans locker room: INJURY. The good sign, though, is that because of that injury maybe the Pelicans just got a steal of a player that fell off everyones radar.
Jackson comes from a big time program at Duke, where he played behind a lottery pick and Grayson Allen, who has a shot at being a lottery pick in next years draft. In their system, he showed athleticism and the potential to be a good perimeter shooter, something the Pelicans dearly needed to find in this draft. Frank Jackson seems to be a perfect project player for Gentry's system. That's the real story of this pick to me, that we are now drafting for the small ball system, seemingly another vote of confidence in Alvin Gentry.
In essence, we traded Tim Frazier for Frank Jackson. I think that's a sentence that kept too many fans up late the last day or two. I, however, do not feel that was a bad trade. Jackson has the higher ceiling and a lot more time to reach it. Also, he is a much needed player that fits into the "What if Boogie leaves" scenario, which gets scarier and scarier by the day.
That being said, I don't know how Jackson fits on a team with Moore and Crawford. He's a similar type of player: namely, shooting guard who shoots, drives, and scores. I wonder what this means for those two.
I like the pick. The Pelicans weren't major players in this draft, and that's OK. We knew that was coming after the Boogie trade. The disappointing aspect of this pick is that a lot of people were hoping two second rounders would equal New Orleans sending Omer Asik and his massive contract somewhere else. Clearly, that didn't happen, but maybe New Orleans just added a major future piece of the puzzle.
The Pelicans obviously had someone targeted and aggressively went after him. This tells me that the collection of front office folks on Airline Drive are pretty dead set on this guy, especially moving all the way up to the first selection of the 2nd round.
The player they're getting might be a younger, more athletic Malcolm Brogdon. Jackson won't have huge ball-handling and playmaking responsibilities, but the Pels might send him out there as a perimeter defender and wing shooter... get that 3-point stroke ready! This team needs help at the guard position and Jackson is likely to be a much more legitimate long-term option than our favorite triple-double maestro Tim Frazier.
Our fearless leader has already broken down Jackson's game here, but I'll note something a little off the radar: I swear mormons are always good at basketball! Even those dudes in YMCA gyms and on blacktops... not even counting guys like Jabari Parker and Danny Ainge.
On the flip side, Jackson is coming off a foot injury and seems to possess pretty shaky "point guard" skills. He had a pretty high usage for a guy who might not get the same looks in the NBA as he did in college - and maybe he should have been a little more willing to spread the ball around with multiple NBA draft picks on the same floor with him at all times. The Pelicans also gave up a lot of stuff (basically two picks and a young veteran, somewhat proven NBA player) for a less-than-perfect prospect. And maybe it's just because he went to Duke, but I see a potential Austin Rivers situation here: highly-ranked guy used to taking tough shots that has a tough time adjusting.
The Pelicans need "fit" guys now to surround AD and Big Cuz; if Jackson comes in and defends 1s and 2s, gets rid of the ball when he should, makes smart cuts and at least attempts 3s at a high clip, he'll have an immediate impact at a young age. If not, I pray the wait doesn’t cost the team.