Justin Jackson was one of the many veterans that led North Carolina to a national championship after falling short the year before. Jackson was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, but he benefited from staying for three years at Carolina. The rangy small forward saw a dramatic improvement in his shooting and made a name for himself as one of the best wing players in this year’s draft.
It’s going to be hard to find a player more NBA ready than Jackson. After three seasons under Roy Williams, Jackson became an elite scorer and it started with his three-point shooting. He failed to make a three-pointer per contest while shooting under 30% from the arc in his first two seasons at North Carolina. However, Jackson shot an average of over 7 threes a game in his junior season and made them at a 37% clip. He is now a confident shooter coming off screens and pulling up off the dribble. His shooting stroke underwent a total transformation over his three seasons at North Carolina, making him a possible lottery pick in this year’s draft.
His lanky 6’8″ frame along with his nearly 7′ wingspan should allow him to develop into a terrific 3-and-D player in the NBA. Jackson can be one of the best defenders on his respective team, although he was never much of a shot-blocker in college, as he only averaged 0.2 blocks per game his final season. That should not prove to be too worrisome. His defense prowess was on display when he guarded Malik Monk in the NCAA tournament. Monk only managed to go 4-10 with 12 points against Jackson. Jackson’s height and length also allows him to be a versatile defender that can guard both on the perimeter and in the post.
The Hawks have made it a priority that their wing players are able to play unselfishly and attack the boards. Jackson shows a complete game by offering both rebounding and passing from the wing position. He averaged nearly 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 32 minutes per game during the regular season. Those numbers only went up during March Madness, where he averaged 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
It is not going to take long for Justin Jackson to make an impact in the NBA. He is too polished and well-rounded of a basketball player not to find a niche at this level. He may not have the superstar potential that a lot of these prospects in the top-half of the draft, but his floor is very high. His high basketball-IQ along with his versatility make him a perfect fit for what the Hawks are trying do, but he may be long gone before the Hawks draft at 19.