NBA Position: PG
General Information: 21 year old junior, played at Notre Dame. From Mishawaka, Indiana.
Measurables: 6'1", 195 pounds, 6'5.5" wingspan, 7'9" standing reach, 37.5' no step vertical, 43.5 max vertical
2014-15 Season Statistics: 15.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, .3 BPG, 2.2 TOPG (36.0 minutes per contest) - 45.1% FG, 81.3% FT, 33.1% 3P, 56.0% TSP
A lightning-quick bulldog of a player, Demetrius Jackson has top-tier quickness and explosiveness which makes up for his less than ideal size. Jackson can score from anywhere on the court; he's a capable pull-up longballer who also loves to explode and attack the basket with a nasty first step. He proved himself a capable floor-general in his junior season, although he lacks the polish of some of the other points in the class. Despite his weaknesses, he's one of the most balanced prospects in the class, with insane athletic abilities bolstered by good skills as a scorer, passer, and defender.
As a sophomore, Jackson played mostly as the secondary ball-handler, but took the reins this season and managed to dramatically improve his assist numbers (3.1 to 4.9, 15.9% rate to 26.1%) while also improving his turnover rate to a decently low 12.6%. He's not a flashy or creative passer like some in the class, but he's also not a careless ball-handler either.
There were solid stretches where Jackson looked a bit lost on the court, and too many instances (especially in the tournament) where he overdribbled with no plan. Despite the significant rise in his passing numbers, he has only one year of collegiate experience as the primary ball handler. While his ability to play off the ball is a bonus, it may take Jackson longer to find the point guard balance in the NBA than it will Kris Dunn, Tyler Ulis, or Denzel Valentine.
Jackson has proven himself as a scorer at all three levels—he's an enthusiastic attacker, solid on two-point jumpers (40.5% on the year), and was a career 38.4% shooter from three. He's most comfortable in catch-and-shoot situations, but also developed a dangerous pick-and-roll game. The one concern over his junior season; as his usage skyrocketed, his three-point efficiency plummeted; 42.9% as a sophomore to 33.8% as a junior. While his shooting stroke will even out, he's not going to enter the league with the same established shooting success as some of his fellow rookies.
Despite a 6'1 size and an average wingspan, Jackson is a terror in transition and made some ridiculous plays above the rim. Despite his 195 lbs, he's not afraid to fight through traffic and absorb contact. But unlike his shooting abilities, which he can learn to tweek against bigger defenders, he may have to scale back his attack-mentality when facing NBA rim protectors. He'll need to figure out more drive moves other than "beat-the-defender-to-the-basket" - a consistent floater, or a stop-and-pop would do wonders to open up his offense at the next level.
Notre Dame played in a fairly zone-heavy system, which makes it harder to quantify Jackson's immediate defensive potential. While he wasn't always a completely engaged defender, his lapses in effort weren't common enough to be a major concern. His size shouldn't be a major concern against NBA points, as he'll make up for it immediately with his quickness, explosiveness, and upper-body strength. But it will limit him against shooting guards, a majority of whom will have a good four to seven inches on him.
Unsurprisingly given his size, Jackson's rebounding rates are low, even amongst the guard class. His 3.1 a game was below Kris Dunn (5.3), Buddy Hield (5.7) and Jamal Murray (5.2) and barely beat out the 5'8" Tyler Ulis (3.1). Jackson tried to muscle his way into the paint, but he also was prone to racing out to beat the defense rather than attack the rim. Not a real weakness for a point guard, but the boards aren't a strength for him.
After playing mostly off the ball his sophomore year alongside future 2015 20th overall selection Jerian Grant, Jackson made the most of his opportunities as the floor general/primary scorer. Despite the losses of Grant and Pat Connaughton, Jackson took over as a team leader and nearly got Notre Dame to a second straight Elite Eight.
While he doesn't have a locked-on full-throttle motor, his lapses in effort are far between and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's been much more likely to lax defensively than on offense, but he was playing on a team where defense wasn't the primary emphasis. Aside from his drop in three-point success over his junior year, he showed significant improvement over his three-year career. With his solid skill set and incredible athleticism, I project him as a capable starter/excellent bench scorer quick. In a class with only one sure prospect at the point (Kris Dunn), Jackson is the second best at the position.
Fit with Sacramento:
The biggest question for Vlade surrounding the classes arguable 2nd-best point guard; what does Jackson provide the Kings, either now or long-term, that Darren Collison doesn't? Unlike Kris Dunn, who has great size at 6'5 and provides a defacto playmaker, Jackson isn't going to be able to handle both guard positions as easily and has only one year of full-on ball handling responsibilities under his belt. He would provide the Kings with an additional (and much needed) shooter, and one who isn't afraid to attack the basket if the lane opens up.
Defense isn't a selling point in Jackson's game, but again, his full defensive potential is a bit of a mystery. As he fills in, he should be able to stay in front of most NBA point guards, although he'll be limited to that one position on defense.
Weaknesses aside, if Vlade decides that Jackson is the long-term answer at point guard, there would be reasons for optimism. Jackson has exceptional physical tools, a chip on his shoulder, and he plays above his size. It would be a nice start to Dave Joerger's tenure to give him a young point guard to mold, and one who might have untapped potential as a floor general. Jackson doesn't have close to the ceiling that Kris Dunn has, but he's my second ranked point guard in the class.
As always, check out the DraftExpress breakdowns;