2018 NBA Draft Profile: MSU Forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr
Jaren Jackson Jr. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America)

The 2018 NBA Draft features a lot of names that show great potential in the near future. Overshadowed by the “names in lights,” is the name Jaren Jackson Jr. Though Jackson is projected to be a top-five pick in this years draft, his name does not stand out like the players surrounding him. Players such as Duke Forward Marvin Bagley, Arizona Forward DeAndre Ayton, and Texas Center Mo Bamba have certain ingredients in their games that make their names pop out on paper. This is an element that Jackson lacks.

But when it comes to being the next big thing in the NBA, popularity is not the deciding factor. Will Jaren Jackson Jr’s lack of an “it factor” play a big role in moving on in his career? As the NBA Draft draws near, Let’s take a look at the things that make Jaren Jackson Jr a top-five pick.

Defense

If you want an inside force, Jackson is your man. His defensive mind stands far above most players in this year’s draft. Standing at 6’11, Jackson can size up against any forward in the league. In his freshman year at Michigan State, he averaged three blocks per game and total of 106 blocks on the season. He ranked fifth overall in NCAA’s Division 1 Men’s Basketball list of overall blocks for the 2017-2018 season.

Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. (Left) guarding Dion Wiley (Right) (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images North America)

Jackson’s length and athleticism make him a versatile defender that can do more than be a presence on the inside. In a league that uses screens to find the open man, the opposing team will not be able to find a mismatch that works in their favor. Whoever drafts Jackson will be able to make a “death lineup” of their own.

Fundamentals

Even though Jaren Jackson Jr. does not have the “it factor” that his peers possess, there is a reason he is a top-five pick. This reason is Jackson’s ability to play basketball the “right way…” With fundamentals. Even though he is right-handed, he is able to finish comfortably with his left, almost prefers it over his right. Jackson uses great footwork down in the post, which allows him to perform many post moves that lead to points.


Inside the paint isn’t the only location where Jaren Jackson Jr. could be a threat. Even though he does not seem to shoot with the “traditional jump shot” of most shooters, his mechanics might even be more unguardable. Jackson uses his wingspan very well as his release is way higher than most other players. He also has a really quick release making it harder for opponents to mess up his shot. In his freshman season at Michigan State, Jackson shot almost 40 percent behind the arc. Jackson’s ability to stretch the floor will help him make the transition from college to the NBA. As a big man who can do it all through his mechanics, Jaren Jackson Jr. will be a team’s prized possession.

Eye Test

Jaren Jackson Jr. is not a flashy player. Sorry folks, but he is not always going to put up highlight plays to post on social media. He is going to do whatever his team needs to do to win, and that has shown. Jackson does not always fill the stat sheet, even though he is fully capable of doing so. He is a player that anyone wants as a teammate. It seems as if he always knows what he going to do before he does it. He gets into the position or creates the space he needs to get the basket.

Also, it seems as if opponents can feel his defensive presence. It almost looks that defense is too easy for Jackson. He uses his length like a brick wall to either deflect passes, get the block, or just force players to stop dribbling. Any team that drafts Jackson will be able to dwell off his defensive presence.

Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images North America)

Weaknesses

You never know when Jackson’s motor is going to be on or off. He tends to not show up all the time which could play a huge factor on his future team. This could affect how coaches see him, and could even hurt his potential minutes within some games. At his best, he is a strong force on both sides of the ball, but at his worst, he could end up on the bench for lack of effort. With good coaching and the passion to become great, we will most likely get the best out of Jackson.

Even though the 6’11 forward is a great inside player, he lacks the physicality and toughness to get up for rebounds. He misses a lot of rebounding opportunities because of bad positioning. In his freshman season, he only averaged around five rebounds per game. With great coaching, he will be able to get those rebounding numbers up to NBA level.

Notable Notes

Jackson is the son of the 1999 San Antonio Spurs champion, Jaren Jackson Sr. Even though Jackson Sr. was not an All-Star, having a father that was in the league boosts Jackson’s popularity. He will be able to learn from his father, as he was the product of the great coach Greg Popovich. Jaren Jackson Jr. will be able to learn and improve his game through the NBA coaching level.

Coming from Michigan State, Jackson is joining teammate Miles Bridges in this year’s draft. Both players know exactly what they need to do to become better in the NBA. Playing the forward position, both players can be an inside and outside force. Head to head matchups will be fun to watch.

Jaren Jackson
Dewayne Dedmon (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)rid

NBA Comparison: Dewayne Dedmon

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dewayne Dedmon are almost identical when watching how they play. Like Jaren Jackson, Dedmon uses his length to act like a brick wall against the players he defends. Both players stand in at 6’11 and 245 pounds. Their build allows them to be a strong force inside, but also be quick on their feet. Like Dedmon, Jackson does not always put up the numbers that will fill up the stat sheet, but both are capable of it. These work-horses do whatever they need to do to make their team better.

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