Jaren Jackson Jr. Scouting Report
Jaren Jackson Jr. has developed into an extremely impactful player for Michigan State this year. His draft projections and value have jumped significantly due to his intense defense, 3pt shot development, and flashes of high motor on both ends of the floor. This report will detail his strengths and weaknesses and how they will affect his future in the NBA. Let us begin with his strengths.
- Defensive Ability: Jackson is one of the best defensive players in the NCAA, averaging an incredible 3.2 blocks per game (5.7 per 40), and is adept at contesting and altering shots as well as locking down post players. He elevates his game and effort against other stars such as Duke’s Marvin Bagley.
- Size/Length: Optimal size at 6’11 with a 7’5 wingspan and a 9’1 standing reach, he fits the size needed for a power forward/stretch 4/5 perfectly. His length allows him to finish easier inside and increases the potential for more versatile finishing techniques. Also, it allows him to finish over defenders with a soft touch or a hard slam.
- Outside Shot: While his mechanics are a tad unorthodox, he stretches the floor nicely, and puts in around 40% of his three pointers (almost all of them open). His mid range game is also solid, but added versatility will come as he continues to develop. He has a lot of room to grow here.
- Offensive Potential: As stated previously, Jackson has the ability to knock down shots all over the court. However, he still has lots of room to grow in the post and in isolation. If he adds these aspects to his game (which with his talent and size, he could), he would be a tough cover for defenses everywhere. Also, he will need to heighten his release point.
- Shot Blocking Ability: Jackson has incredible instincts on the defensive end regarding shot blocking. His quick leaping combined with excellent timing and length create a nightmare in the paint for most offenses at the collegiate level. He once blocked 8 shots in a single game, and not just in the paint. He can get out and block an outside shot here and there. His reaction time is incredible when he is on his game.
- Defensive Motor: Almost always going for blocks, Jackson is a near ever-present presence inside and never allows for easy buckets. This guy wants to swat anyone and everyone when that motor is going strong, and if he doesn’t you better believe he will be right up there contesting that shot. That sort of motor is a rare find, and a valuable one. It is a motor not displayed often in Bagley or Ayton, which sets Jackson apart from the other projected top picks this year.
- Athleticism: Jackson is a very fluid athlete for his age, as he has light feet, quick leaping, and the vertical explosiveness to be an effective lob target at any level. I get a sense that he has not peaked athletically and can easily put on a lot of muscle to that frame.
- Lateral Quickness: One of the defining traits of Jackson’s defense, his lateral quickness allows him to slide into perfect position in order to contest and block shots. This ability is slept on often, and is often present in the league’s top defenders.
- 3&D PF/2 Way Star Potential: One of the roles that has not become mainstream yet in the NBA is the 3&D power forward. While the NBA is established with the stretch 4 role, we have not seen many 3&D players at the 4 apart from perhaps Serge Ibaka (while on the Thunder) who had some obvious success. And then of course Anthony Davis has a strong outside shot as well but more aspects to his offense. While the 3&D wing has found success all over the place, it is not illogical to assume that an interior defender of Jackson’s magnitude who can stretch the floor could be a very valuable commodity in the future, as a star, starter or role player. Of course, the ability to score inside will need to be present as well if they want a chance at stardom.
- Post Game: His post game is in early stages and he can add a lot more versatility here if he wants to score consistently at the next level. He is only averaging 11.3 points per game currently, which can most certainly improve.
- Rebounding Ability: For a player of his length, he should be pulling down a lot more boards. He misses box outs occasionally and definitely needs to improve here. However, this is often caused by him going for a lot of blocks and giving up boxouts, which depending on how your team plays can be a good or bad thing.
- Defensive Fundamental Mistakes: Like many young players, his defensive IQ is developing as he can bite on shot fakes and such due to the fact that he is always looking for the highlight defensive play.
- Unorthodox Shot: His release is odd, and may not be as effective at the next level. He shoots pretty low for a big man with his length and it will limit his offensive versatility. He is not shown solid shooting while contested yet, and struggles often when not set. Reminds me of the issues Draymond Green has with his shot, where he needs to be wide open and even then it is not always consistent. Although Jackson has a quicker release, the way he shoots it lower could limit his versatility with his shot.
- Passing Ability: Jackson has more turnovers this year than assists, and his passing IQ could certainly improve. He will not be the offensive catalyst, but he might not need to be. Regardless, I would not expect any triple doubles with assists.
- Motor Inconsistency: Sometimes Jaren Jackson just doesn’t show up completely, he can disappear on offense and occasionally on defense. He cannot allow this to happen at the next level in an 82+ game season.
- Experience: Only played 22 minutes per game and did not really show up in the NCAA tournament, so he has not exactly made a huge mark on his team or done a ton against top competition. Played well against Duke though.