If the rumors about the European prodigy, Luka Doncic, are true and he does slide past the top three teams, Jaren Jackson Jr. could find himself in a Hawks uniform to begin next season. Jackson is one of the three centers available at the top of this draft that could fall under the category of “unicorn” once they are fully developed.
At 6′ 11″, 240 pounds, with a wingspan of over seven feet, Jackson has a body that is already tailor-made for today’s NBA. While he does have incredible size and strength for a one-and-done player, his most impressive traits are his speed, quickness and explosiveness. Traits that are becoming the staple of big men in the modern NBA. His size, strength and athleticism make him a mismatch in the post, while his speed and quickness give him the unique ability to guard smaller players on the perimeter. While at Michigan State, he showed he has no problem being left on a island near the three-point line, making him an all-around matchup nightmare on the defensive side of the ball. Jackson Jr. averaged an unreal 3.0 blocks a games, and what is even more absurd about that stat, those blocks came in just 21.8 minutes a game.
Offensively, Jackson is still a work in progress. He did not put up the ridiculous 20-10 every night like other top front court prospects DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley. However, he did display many of the same attributes. Like Bagley, Jackson can do the dirty work on the post but can also take defenders away from the basket and beat them off the dribble. It does not hurt that he has a sweet stroke as well. He shot 39.6% from behind the arc and has the most pure shooting stroke out of the three. Both Ayton and Bagley are more polished offensive prospects at this point, but there is nothing in Jackson’s game that suggests he cannot become just as good or even better offensively in the NBA.
There is no reason Jackson cannot become the best player in this draft. It may take a little while for him to develop into his superstar potential, but the Hawks are not planning on winning anytime soon. His defensive ability would fit in perfectly with new head coach Lloyd Pierce‘s defense-first mindset. His dad, Jaren Jackson Sr., who also played in the NBA but was not nearly as large as his son, clearly left his thumbprint all over junior. Jackson can handle the ball and shoot the ball like a guard, making it just a matter of time before his offense catches up to his defense. The Michigan State product has a good chance of being the best two-way player in this year’s draft class, so it makes sense why the Hawks are seriously considering him with the third overall pick.