Jaren Jackson Jr. – Michigan State
CPP Big Board Ranking: #6 Overall (#3 PF/#4 C)
Weight: 236 lbs
Age/Birthday: 18 (9/15/99)
Hometown: Carmel, IN
High School: La Lumiere School
(Grant Kobrin – 6/5/18)
Jaren Jackson Jr. is the son of former NBA player Jaren Jackson, but his game contrasts from his father’s game quite a bit. Jaren Jackson Jr. had an up-and-down season for Michigan State during his freshman campaign, but proved to be a tremendous prospect. He is one of the youngest players in this draft class, as he won’t turn 19 until right before training camp, and he has unteachable, physical qualities for a modern day NBA big man. This combination makes him not only one of the highest rated players in this year’s draft class, but also possibly the player with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft class. NBA scouts project Jaren Jackson Jr. to be much more effective in the NBA game, as he further develops his game and matures as a player, than he was in college where he was constantly in foul trouble and was given limited playing time because of this. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a likely top-5 pick in the upcoming draft, and should eventually develop into one of the best young big men in the NBA.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is a defensive-minded player, and may be the best defensive player in this year’s draft class. He has excellent size and length to play and guard both the power forward and center positions in the NBA, and uses this along with his physical and athletic gifts to his advantage on the defensive end of the court. He possesses excellent natural defensive instincts, and uses this skill set to effectively shutdown his opposing matchup, as well as play excellent help-defense. Jackson has shown the ability to defend the post quite well. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a unique defensive prospect, as he really does have the potential to guard the 1-5 positions on the court. On defense, Jaren Jackson Jr. is a well established rim protector, as he averaged 3 blocks a game in limited playing time at Michigan State. This statistic does not even take into account all of the shots that Jaren Jackson Jr. indirectly changed due to his size and length clogging up the lane for smaller players at the collegiate level. Jackson is a solid rebounder, as he averaged nearly 6 rebounds a game in limited playing time in college, which is encouraging assuming that he can keep himself on the floor in the longer NBA game. Athletically, Jaren Jackson Jr. is off of the charts for his size. He is explosive, and is an excellent two-foot jumper, but also possesses great speed and the ability to change directions effectively, as well as solid lateral quickness for a player of his size. Jackson’s athleticism is a crucial intangible to his overall game, and allows him to impact the game tremendously on both ends of the court.
In terms of his offensive ability, Jaren Jackson Jr. has really impressed scouts with his overall shooting ability. Jackson shot the ball extremely well from all three statistically significant areas, where he shot nearly 40% from beyond the arc, over 51% from the field, and just under 80% from the freethrow line. All of these percentages are very impressive, but especially considering his size and position. The one that specifically stands out is his three-point percentage in college, which was on nearly 3 attempts per game. Although the mechanics are somewhat questionable, his three point shooting ability is still extremely impressive, and is something that will translate to the positionless style of play that exists in the NBA today. Besides from shooting, Jaren Jackson Jr. is a lob target, and is a human highlight machine when he has even the smallest amount of room to operate. Additionally, Jackson Jr. showed the ability to attack the rim off of the dribble and make decent decisions with the ball, as well as finish at the rim at a high level. His post game is a bit limited right now, but it is clear that he has the talent and potential to further expand that portion of his game. Jaren Jackson Jr. is unselfish on offensive and has good court vision for a big man, which will go a long way in the NBA. Overall, Jaren Jackson Jr. is a defensive monster on the court, with the potential to become a good offensive player, which has made him an eye-opening prospect to many NBA executives.
Jaren Jackson Jr. has an issue with foul trouble. He dealt with it during nearly every game he played in at Michigan State, there is no denying this. Jaren Jackson Jr. averaged 3.2 fouls per game, which directly correlated with the fact that Coach Tom Izzo was only able to play him under 22 minutes per game. This is going to be an issue in the NBA game, but the good news is that as a rookie Jackson will hopefully be able to learn from his mistakes and change the way he approaches the game. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a threat to foul every possession on the defensive end because he is overly aggressive, very hands on defensively, and sometimes overextends himself on the perimeter or even in the post. He is going to need to be more patient on defense, and allow his natural defensive instincts to make himself effective defensively without being in foul trouble constantly. Besides foul trouble, Jaren Jackson Jr. has a few other areas of his game to improve upon. His mechanics on his jump shot, as mentioned earlier, are somewhat questionable, because it is a low-release push shot, that is a somewhat awkward looking jumpshot. Nevertheless, it is effective – even if it is a little streaky, and unless it proves to not work at the NBA level, nothing should be done to change his mechanics. Just look what happened to Markelle Fultz’s rookie season. Additionally, Jackson is very turnover bound, because he plays somewhat recklessly on the court, due to his raw talent, youth, and inexperience. He averaged nearly 2 turnovers a game, in once again, limited playing time for Michigan State. This is going to need to be improved upon in the NBA, but the good news is that this is quite common for big men of his young age.
Some other smaller things include the fact that Jaren Jackson Jr. seems a bit passive on offense at times, and seemed to differ to Miles Bridges and some of the other perimeter oriented players on the Spartans basketball team this past season. Additionally, on defense Jaren Jackson Jr. is exceptionally good, besides his fouling issues of course, but he has to be more disciplined and play smarter defensively at times. This will allow him to be even more effective defensively, and reduce his fouling tendencies. Another small thing is that he needs to improve upon is covering pick slips, but that is something that he should be able to improve upon with practice and more experience. Athletically, Jaren Jackson Jr. is outstanding in almost all facets, and has shown the ability to be explosive off of two feet, but needs to improve upon his one foot jump – as this will allow him to further improve upon his slashing and finishing abilities. Overall, Jaren Jackson Jr. has an issue with fouling and turnovers, but if he can resolve these weaknesses along with a few other minor aspects of his game, he should become an incredible player in the NBA.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Kevin Garnett/Clint Capela
Jaren Jackson Jr. is most comparable to one of the best all time big men to ever play in the NBA, Kevin Garnett. Both players possess elite level size, length, athleticism, and physical tools for a big, but also an ability to be a force defensively and score effectively from both inside the paint and on the perimeter. Kevin Garnett was one of the best players in his era of basketball, and we can only hope that Jaren Jackson Jr. can look something like KG at the NBA level. Jaren Jackson Jr. will need to improve upon his feel for the game, offensive post moves, and his defensive discipline for this comparison to pan out. If Jaren Jackson Jr. does not become an elite level offensive threat, he should possess the ability to become a player like Clint Capela, due to his incredible potential on the defensive side of the game.
Jaren Jackson Jr. had a promising freshman campaign at Michigan State, regardless of how up and down it may have seen at points along the way. Expect him to be a high lottery pick, and most likely a top 5 selection in this year’s upcoming draft. His defensive abilities, along with his potential to space the floor, are what have scouts so intrigued by Jaren Jackson Jr.. Jackson should have the chance to be drafted on a team where he can immediately play and contribute, and assuming he can stay on the floor, he should be able to further refine his game and hopefully continue to improve, and ultimately live up to his high ceiling.
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