As we inch closer and closer to the draft, we want to make sure we don’t overlook any potential #1 picks. Jaren Jackson Jr. has started to climb up some of the mock drafts, and it is evident as to why.
NBA teams spend years researching prospects in an attempt to guess how productive they will be. Family history is something that is noted, and Jaren Jackson Jr. passes that with flying colors. His dad, Jaren Jackson Sr., played in 431 NBA games over 12 seasons. His best years, came in San Antonio, where he developed into a 3PT threat. Twice he made over 100 3PT FGs, and we think if not for the shortened season, that 1999-2000 year would have seen similar production. Ending your career in the NBA as a +35% shooter from 3PT range puts you in the above average bucket. Taking all of that into consideration, it’s no surprise that Jaren Jackson Jr. is showing signs of being a deep threat.
This screen grab from KenPom.com, which is a must-subscribe site if you are any level of serious about basketball, has a lot to break down. He’s listed at 6’11”, 242…while we don’t know that for sure, it seems accurate. At the 2017 Hoop Summit, Jackson measured 6’10”, 225 with a 7’4″ wingspan and 9’1″ standing reach. All of those numbers put Jackson into an elite class.
We’ll move from left-to-right, so it’s easy to track. His ORtg overall is 118.3, good for 224th in the country as of 2/20/18, and in conference it shoots up to 125.7 which is tops in the NCAA. If you’re going to take away points because the Big Ten is the 5th best conference, stop reading. His eFG% and TS% improve in conference play, in a conference known for being physical and with teams that are uber-prepared with scouting reports. It’s extremely impressive and is something that NBA executives will note. If a team doesn’t weight their statistical models to account for production against level-of-competition, then they are doing it wrong.
His Blk% is 5th in the country! That means he can protect the rim from all those pesky guards and wings that relentlessly attack the basket. And once again, his numbers go up in conference play.
Jackson is hovering around the top-100 in FD/40, meaning he gets calls. In the NBA, where it only takes 5 fouls to get to the bonus, this will help bottom-feeder teams get some easy points. His FTr is at a good level too. He’ll be able to get to the FT line in the NBA as those numbers, historically, translate from one level to the next. This stat, is also extremely important in the evaluation process leading into the draft.
Now, let’s look at what separates Jaren from some of the other centers. Look at those shooting numbers! A big guy who can shoot efficiently from the entire floor is a coach’s dream come true. 60% from the floor, 43% from 3PT, and 79% from the FT line! Any guard would be happy to have those splits. Clearly, Jaren is not your everyday center. They say that FT% is a better statistical indicator for future 3PT success in the NBA. 79% on a decent sample size (for 1 season) allows NBA scouts to project him as an NBA 3PT shooter. Chris Bosh shot 73% in his only season at Georgia Tech, Brook Lopez was a 76% shooter in his 2 years at Stanford (Robin shot 61.2% in college for juxtaposition), and Channing Frye shot right under 76% for his career.
Modern NBA centers are different than what we grew up with. Gone are the days where teams threw it into the post and let the big dog eat. If you look at the All-Star Break standings, find me a top-10 team that dominates the game with a traditional center.
These teams are all perimeter-dominant teams. The new age centers that are going to lead the charge are players like Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns…if those names look familiar (besides the obvious) it’s because those are the top statistical comps for Jaren Jackson. And if those are the future of basketball, it would behoove teams to seriously consider having their own highly-skilled giant.