The 6-3 point guard out of Cleveland State has been playing with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League, and he’s made quite a splash in his rookie year with season averages of 15.8 points, 7.4 assists and 5 rebounds per game.
He was not expected to start at the point for the BayHawks, but he earned the nod and the respect of his coaches, teammates and fans.
As we all know by now, Jackson was signed to play some backup point guard while Tony Parker is out with a broken hand for the next six weeks.
But let’s get down to brass tacks, what can Jackson actually do for this team and what should Spurs fans expect?
According to Matt Hubert of Blog Talk BayHawk, his game is very similar to Tony Parker’s in that he uses his speed to drive to the basket and finish over bigger defenders.
“In my opinion, Jackson is a great pickup by San Antonio. Like Parker, Jackson is lightning quick off the dribble, and he has an uncanny knack for getting to—and finishing at—the rim,” Hubert said on his blog. “Just how fiercely does Jackson attack the rim? Well, he has taken nearly a quarter of the BayHawks’ free throws this season (219 of the team’s 980 attempts) despite missing nine games during his time with the Cavs.”
While Jackson may be able to finish in the paint and has the “lightning” speed like Parker, he also shares a similar trait and struggle Parker had early on in his career.
While Jackson shoots 41 percent from the field, his percentages decrease drastically when he steps behind the arc, connecting on 28 percent of his treys.
The Spurs however, aren’t really in need of another deep threat, and instead need someone that can dish and possibly put the defense on their heels, which is exactly Jackson’s calling card.
“This guy can get up in a hurry and makes great decisions on the break which really impresses me for a rookie being one year out of college,” Hubert said.
This isn’t Jackson’s first call-up this year. He was signed to two ten-day contracts with Cleveland earlier this season, and without him, the BayHawks struggled, going 1-8 without him.
Since his return to Erie, Jackson went off on a few occasions. In a loss against the Toros, Jackson had 34 points, 13 assists and 5 rebounds. Earlier this month against Iowa, he showed he’s capable of more than scoring and dishing as he ended the game with 30 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and six steals.
So how does that translate to the NBA. Unfortunately, his stint with the Cavs wasn’t much of a barometer since Jackson only played in 5 games and didn’t get more than 2:42 of playing time and even got as little as 15 seconds in one game.
That should change in his second NBA stint, as the Spurs will need a good decision-maker who will look to help his teammates.
So we know that Jackson is quick and can get to the basket, but what about Jackson made the Spurs pick him up instead of going into their own backyard and picking up someone like Curtis Jerrells of the Toros.
Jackson is a leader, and he has been ever since he was at Cleveland State, but he also has confidence, the must-have trait in a point guard, and the trait that has sent several former Spurs backup guards packing. Jackson also excels in transition, on the fast break and the thing that likely sold the Spurs more than anything else, his defensive prowess.
He was the Horizon League defensive player of the year playing for Cleveland State last year and he ranks as the top defensive point guard in the D-League, according to Ridiculous Upside.
“He’s not very big (6’3″, 190) but he is very athletic and plays the passing lanes quite well – he has great instincts,” Ridiculous Upside’s Scott Schroeder wrote.
In San Antonio, Jackson could benefit from a shooting coach like Chip Engelland, and having Parker and Hill mentoring him would also work to his benefit.
But the question is, can Jackson stick? Does he have a chance to turn his 10-day contract into a contract for the rest of the season.
Accord to BayHawks coach John Treloar, he’s still got some time and work to put in.
“He’s making progress,” Treloar said. “He’s got a long way to go to become an NBA point guard that plays a lot of minutes, but it’s another great opportunity for him.”
An opportunity that could possibly lead to Jackson realizing his NBA dreams, even if it isn’t with the Spurs.
“Im hoping that Popovich and the coaching staff see the same things I’ve seen all season,” Hubert said. “I really do think Jackson can contribute on a consistent level with an NBA team as a backup change-of-pace guard.”
Hubert also went on to say that he expects Jackson to be on an NBA team’s roster on opening day next season. But for now, Jackson has a locker and a 10-day contract…and he couldn’t be happier.
Hubert interview on The Spurscast Live