Pierre Jackson’s journey to the NBA has been littered with obstacles. Here’s an overview of his story and his game.
Pierre Jackson has certainly had a tough road to the NBA. After spending two years at a community college, Jackson transferred to Baylor for his final two seasons. At Baylor, he averaged 16.7 points and 6.5 assists per game and spearheaded teams consisting of five future NBA players - Quincy Acy, Cory Jefferson, Perry Jones, Quincy Miller, and Taurean Prince. Still under-appreciated mainly due to his size, the player known as Pappy Jack stands at just 5-foot-10 and must fight for every opportunity.
Jackson was taken 42nd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, but was sent to New Orleans as part of the Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel deal. He spent his first season in France, but would return to play for the 76ers in the 2014 Summer League. Unfortunately, in his first game, he ruptured his right achilles. An achilles tear is arguably the worst injury in basketball, so Jackson rehabilitated throughout the entire 2014-15 season. Jackson’s much anticipated return to the Sixers in the 2015 Summer League was met with struggles. Even though he signed his first NBA contract just weeks before, Pierre Jackson was waived from the Sixers after three preseason games. He later claimed that he was playing injured.
Since being waived, Jackson has dominated the D-League. He holds career D-League averages of 25.9 points and 5.6 assists per game, and he set the D-League record for points in a game with 58 in 2014 (later broken by Jordan McRae and Russ Smith). He started the 2016-17 season with the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, but on December 27th, he was called up by the Mavericks to get his first chance at the NBA.
After his debut with the Mavs, head coach Rick Carlisle said,
“I like his quickness, and I like his ability to score. He made a couple of good plays off pick-and-rolls, so I think he’s a guy that can help us a bit.”
Jackson can make contributions as a scorer and playmaker from the point guard position, and in his second NBA game against the Golden State Warriors, he showed off his passing ability with these plays.
Pierre Jackson clearly has chemistry with Dwight Powell, as five of Jackson’s seven assists on the season are to Powell. This is unsurprising, considering Jackson had a plethora of athletic big-men to feed at Baylor. In the 23 minutes the duo has played together, they have attained an OffRtg of 128.8 and a DefRtg of 84.7, for a NetRtg of 44.1.
Furthermore, Jackson’s strength is in the pick-and-roll. After receiving a pick, he’s primarily looking to feed the roll man, but he can also use his quickness and handles to get to the rim. He has the speed to get by his defenders and the explosiveness to finish at the rim and draw contact. This is what he was missing in his initial return from injury for Philadelphia, but he seems to have it back. The following video contains more examples of his pick-and-roll play style.
Pierre Jackson’s jump shot complements the other aspects of his offensive game. His career three-point percentage in the D-League is 36 percent (one percent above NBA average), and he was shooting 43 percent from three this season before being called up. When Jackson goes off for a big scoring game, it’s his jump shot that takes over. He mainly shoots pulling-up in transition or in isolation, but he can also shoot off the catch or in the pick-and-roll. Here are some examples of what Jackson is able to do with his jump shot.
Jackson has yet to fully prove himself. These highlights are from garbage time against the Warriors, the Las Vegas Summer League, and the D-League. Although he won’t take the league by storm, I believe Pierre Jackson can immediately contribute to the Mavericks or to any other struggling team while they rebuild. His offensive versatility allows teams to plug him in wherever and whenever they deem necessary. In Dallas, he has started as a ball handler and distributor off the bench. If he were to join a team like Philadelphia, he could play as an off-ball shooter with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the team.
In the end, I am glad he has gotten a chance to play in the NBA. His journey is truly incredible, as he has faced adversity with his injuries and continues to push himself to be better. It is impossible to know if Dallas will be his home even for the remainder of the season, but if he’s waived, I’m sure other teams are ready to scoop him up. So while his future remains uncertain, I’m confident Pierre Jackson will be a name floating around for years to come. I, and many other suckers for good stories, will be rooting for him.
Stats taken from Basketball-Reference.com, Stats.NBA.com, and Mavs.com
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