Jackson spent nearly 13 years as the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, in charge of all on-court and international basketball operations, including game rules, conduct, discipline and analytics. He served as chairman of the NBA Competition Committee, which recommends rules changes to the NBA Board of Governors, and on FIBA's Competition Commission and USA Basketball's Board of Directors. He joined NBA TV in 2013.
What kind of draft is this? Do you think it is pretty top heavy with not much talent across the board or do you think across the board there are some pretty good players?
I think it's a crop that has a significant number of front court players with good size and good length and characterized by the ability to play out on the floor, which is an advantage in today's NBA game. I think it has got a good mixture of both young players that you have to bet on their development in future years, but yet at the top half of the lottery there are also some more experienced players like Buddy Hield and Kris Dunn that are a little bit more ready to put in in an NBA game. And then per the usual in other years in the draft, toward the back end of the first round, you have some players that potentially are upper classmen that could figure into the first round of the draft. So I think it is a good mixture. I think it is balanced, both big and small and also in terms of skill applicable to today's game.
You mentioned Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield, do you think either one of them will be available at the eighth spot? And give me your thoughts on each of those players.
It is difficult for me to assess in terms of whether or not they'll be there at the eighth spot, it really depends on each team's need. But I will say that as in most drafts, as you get closer to the draft the size tends to move up to the front or higher than expected so there is a possibility that each of those guys or one of those guys could be there. I think Buddy Hield, to me he is the best long-range shooter in this draft. Aside from that, the guy made 147 threes this year, which is the second most of any college player since 2008 and that player was Steph Curry. I think he has tremendous range, I think he has the ability as a great standstill shooter and the thing that he improved this year was his ability to shoot the ball off the dribble. Defensively, not a great defender, but a solid defender who has only gotten better. A guy of great character, he's a gym rat by all accounts, and I think he's going to be a very good NBA player. Dunn, who was a junior at Providence, really a four-year player himself, 22 years old, I think he's going to be an excellent NBA point guard - extremely athletic, he's rangy, he's long, he's got very good vision as a point guard both in the half court and the full court. Has a real flare for the game, sometimes at the expense of turning the basketball over a little bit too much in college, but that's a coaching matter. And then finally, I think his best attribute is he is a very, very good defender, both on the ball and off the ball.
A couple of other guys we are seeing potentially going to the Kings at eight are Jaylen Brown and Marquese Chriss. What do you think those two guys and do you think they would be a good fit with the Kings?
Jaylen Brown, I think while he's a streaky shooter at best, I think he's a classic sort of slasher, athletic type, wing player. In college, he was a little bit inconsistent, but when he did play well, showed some flashes of brilliance in terms of being able to score. But again, he's a freshman player so you're really betting on what he's going to be in a couple years. So again, that just depends on what Sacramento is looking for, whether or not they are looking for the finished product or someone that they can wait on because I do think you'll have to wait on a guy like Jaylen Brown. Chriss on the other hand, here's a guy that sort of came on like gangbusters here lately by virtue of the individual workouts that he's held. The thing I like about him at his size that applies for the NBA game is his ability to stretch the floor at the three-point line. While he's a freshman, he's not a finished product, but it appears he's going to be a front court player that has the ability to be a stretch four or a stretch five. He also can attack on the dribble from the perimeter and seems to go either way. He's got good body control, good footwork, he can make a move in tight spaces, has the ability to spin, so he's got a pretty wide offensive repertoire and that's what I like about his game.
Wade Baldwin is another guy who has started to move up in the mock drafts. The Kings had him out for a workout last week. I had a chance to talk to him, he seems like a good kid with a good head on his shoulders, but he may be more a "potential" sort of situation or more of a project. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, I would agree with that. Wade is another guy who I think has performed well in the workouts ... as a two-year player, again, what I do like about him is just his physical size for the position at the NBA level. I mean he's got an extremely long wingspan for a guy that is 6'3''. Like Dunn a little bit, I think he's got a very good defensive presence on the floor, but the guy can really shoot and stroke the ball so I think he's an excellent prospect. I hear that during workouts he's performing very well and he is moving up the board.
If you are the Kings, do you considering trading this pick?
I've always been a firm believer that you've got to build your base through the draft and through existing player development so I think to compromise that and give away a pick that high in the draft that could potentially turn into an All-Star doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I'm not with the Kings now, and that's strictly dependent on what they think is best for their franchise. You've got the eighth pick in this draft where you've got a lot of size in the draft, I think keeping the pick is the better option to me.
I wanted to get your thoughts on the team itself at this point. Everyone knows about the talent that DeMarcus Cousins has obviously, but we're still talking about whether he can turn the corner emotionally and make the Kings a winner. You're a guy who dealt with him in your previous work with the league dealing with some of his suspensions. How can he turn the corner and do you think he ever will?
I've actually seen growth in DeMarcus Cousins from the time he's been a rookie and I understand and it's a reasonable argument that emotional growth hasn't been at the rate that most people would like to see, but in my mind he's still a young player. I think the franchise is caught in a tough space if you are entertaining the notion of trading him because you're not going to get equal value out on the market for a talent like DeMarcus Cousins. So what I do like about him is I find him to be a very personable guy, I think he loves the game, I think he understands the game in terms of what it takes and the level of detail to win. The emotional, personal part of it is something that has to be managed, but there are a lot of great players in this league that have to be managed one way or the other. They're not all the same and it takes all kinds to really produce a winner, but at the baseline what you need is talent and that is what he is, he's one of the best talents in the league.
The Kings brought in Dave Joerger as the new head coach. Many compare him to Michael Malone, who Cousins loved and everybody thought he connected really well with. Do you see those comparisons and what do you think of Joerger, do you think he can finally steer the ship in the right direction in Sacramento?
I thought it was a very good selection as a coach simply because Dave Joerger comes from a franchise where when you look at the Grizzlies, he had to manage some diverse personalities and seemingly did that very well. And I don't have any reason to believe that he won't connect with DeMarcus Cousins and I think DeMarcus is going to love Dave Joerger the same way he did Mike Malone. I think you bring up a very good point, Dave Joerger from the technical standpoint is excellent and he's very good at managing players. I think his potential for success there is good. So yeah, I think he can right the ship.
And lastly, for the fans, what was the most difficult incident you had to deal with related to the Kings that you had to make a ruling on back in your days of VP of basketball operations? The Doug Christie-Rick Fox fight and the Anthony Peeler-Kevin Garnett incident are just a couple that come to mind.
Neither one of those decisions were real tough, but I have to tell you the Fox-Christie incident was probably one of the more interesting incidents I ever dealt with because 95 percent of the time you are dealing with incidents on the court. This is an on-court incident that spilled off the court at a time when technology and security systems were a lot better today than they were back in yesteryears so I found myself viewing video tape from the back of the house as opposed to video tape on the court and that was kind of odd. Sure enough, you got a play-by-play of the incident when both players left the court in the back of the house. That was video tape that the general public didn't see, but we had a chance to view it from every different angle. It was just interesting and funny. I work with Rick Fox now at NBA TV, and I told him the same thing I am telling you, I said, "What were you thinking?" He says, "I wasn't."
Jackson will be part of the network's week-long NBA Draft coverage, including Draft HQ (Monday, June 20 at 9 p.m. ET), Mock Draft 2016 (Wednesday, June 22 at 9 p.m. ET) and live draft day coverage beginning at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 23.