Gregory “GG” Jackson is what one might call an “iffy” prospect. As in he’ll be the best player in the league “if” he develops ball-handling and “if” he develops as a shooter and “if” he commits himself to being a great defender, and like two or three other ifs.
The lack of concrete skills right now has held Jackson back in terms of draft value, but his physical traits give him a ceiling that scouts can hardly overlook. It’ll be enough to earn Jackson a draft selection in the first round, perhaps as high as the mid teens. He’s a player that could fit in with a long-term timeline for the Utah Jazz.
- Age (on draft day): 18.51 years old
- Position: Forward
- Height (without shoes): 6’8.25”
- Wingspan: 6’11.5”
- Weight: 214 lbs
- School: South Carolina
- Per Game Stats — 15.4 points | 5.9 rebounds | 0.8 assists | 0.8 steals | 0.8 blocks
- Shooting Splits — 38.4 FG% | 32.4 3P% | 67.7 FT% | 47.4 TS% | 44.4 eFG%
- Advanced Stats — -0.1 BPM (1.2 Off BPM, -1.3 Def BPM) | 1.0 Win Shares | -16.5 Net Rating
Jackson’s physical profile is something to behold. He stands over 6-foot-8 without shoes with a near 7-foot wingspan and a pretty solid weight of 215 pounds for an 18-year old with his height. Combine this frame with his athleticism (among power forwards at the NBA Combine Jackson ranked fourth in vertical at 37.0 inches and second in Three-quarter Court Sprint at 3.21 seconds) and you have a prospect worth salivating over.
Despite some low shooting numbers, Jackson showed a willingness to take, and at least sometimes hit, just about every kind of shot. He attempted quite a few dribble jumpers and took a lot of shots at the rim to go with a still healthy diet of spot-up shots. Those drafting Jackson aren’t just taking him in hopes that he’ll become a 3-and-D wing, they’ll be banking on Jackson becoming a shot-maker at all levels of the court.
Well...kind of everything. At least at the moment. This is why people can be hesitant with Jackson and it’s why he’s currently only going as high as the mid teens and often the 20s in mock drafts despite his frame and athleticism. There’s not really anything Jackson can truly hang his hat on at the moment, at least aside from being a bit of a freak athlete for his size.
You can start with the shooting numbers. His 3-point percentage isn’t actually that much to freak out about, it’s his 2-point percentage: 41.9 percent. On shots at the rim he made just 56.0 percent. There are 6-foot guards who shot better at the rim last year. So the fact that a player who’s biggest upside is his combo of length and athleticism can’t be at least above average at the rim raises a red flag that can be seen from space.
Even aside from shooting there are worries everywhere. Advanced stats weren’t exactly high on him, being a negative player in Basketball Reference’s Box Plus/Minus and Net Rating. Some of the blame for that could be cast onto Jackson’s youth (he was 17 at the start of his team’s season) and playing on a bad team (South Carolina went 11-21) but all of these negatives racking up makes one really worried.
Will the Jazz draft him?
Not with the No. 9 pick they won’t. Jackson is not currently rated to go in the lottery by most prognosticators. Perhaps someone will reach on him, but the Jazz don’t seem like the team to be reaching on a project wing. He’s the kind of player that might fall to them at No. 29 they might pick, or reach only slightly at No. 16 to pick him up.
It may be a little crowded in the frontcourt at the moment with Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk and Walker Kessler all in there, but Jackson could find himself some space to slowly grow, much like Kessler did. And Jackson really does need time to grow, but he also has plenty of time to do it. He won’t turn 19 until December and without much pressure on him he can work on those skills that have a lot of rough edges on them right now.