Over the next couple of days I’ll be breaking down the scouting report for guys entering the NBA Draft. We’ll avoid guys like Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram since we know who they are. If there’s someone specific you want let me know @barstoolreags. All video clips are courtesy of Synergy and/or YouTube. There will be a lot of analytical stats, so yeah I know, nerd.
Today we’ll look at:
Demetrius Jackson – Notre Dame
6’2”, 194 lbs, 21 years old
Projected: No. 14 (DraftExpress) No. 37 (NBADraft)
Compared to: Jonny Flynn (NBA Draft)
My Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
Background: Demetrius Jackson becomes the second uber-athletic guard to come out of Notre Dame a year after Jerian Grant did the same. Jackson, had a similar rise as he played about 22 minutes per game as a freshman but only averaged 6 points. During his sophomore year he benefited from playing alongside Grant and the uptempo pace while shooting 43% from deep. Last year with the team being his to run he had his best scoring year at nearly 16 ppg and upped his assists per game to 4.7.
Strengths: Jackson grades out as an excellent offensive player per Synergy with 1.013 points per possession and a ridiculous 1.833 ppp coming off his cuts. What makes him intriguing to NBA scouts is his athleticism and ability to play off the pick-and-roll. As I talked about yesterday with Tyler Ulis, having a point that can run the high pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop is what scouts are looking for. With the ball in his hands on the pick-and-roll, Notre Dame scored .807 points per possession. Take a look at this play against Clemson.
Jackson runs a couple v-cuts and looks to backcut, before popping out to the left wing. Once he catches the ball, Zach Auguste comes to set a high screen. Now, here I’d like to see Jackson stay closer to the screen and when he drives look at the possible kick, but he does see a mismatch when Auguste’s guy hedges too much.
Jackson uses his speed to turn the corner, but before he does I love his use of the hesitation dribble to set up his defender. He’s efficient with his dribble, getting into the paint and past a reaching helpside defender. Once there he uses a jump stop – against vital in the NBA – and finishes with a layup at the rim. If he can use that sort of play in the NBA, he’s a guy who you want coming off your bench like a Dennis Schrooder to give some energy and minutes.
The next thing I want to look at is how he passes out of the pick-and-roll when the defense commits. He had a decent assist to turnover ratio and a lot of that had to do with his ability to read the defense in this situation. He ranked in the 90th percentile in this situation – where there were 202 possessions in the regular season with him passing out of the defense helping. During that time, Notre Dame scored on 1.114 points per possessions, which shows he led his teammates to the basket and often found where the defense didn’t rotate correctly.
This play against North Carolina State looks simple, but it’s one that scouts will look at when it comes to Jackson. He quickly gets the ball up the left side of the court, looking to run. Once he realizes there’s not a transition opportunity, he escapes dribble out to the wing and waits for the high screen from Auguste. Again, his defender overhelps, allowing Auguste to slip to the rim. Jackson throws a quick bounce pass – most importantly it leads Auguste to the rim, where he easily finishes. This is the type of recognition and play that is needed in the NBA. Jackson can’t overdrive here or look to kick opposite corner and recognize his big man has a layup.
Weaknesses: The biggest weakness right now for Jackson is his defense. Despite being incredibly athletic, he still struggles, especially with off-ball defense. He often watches the ball and not his man, giving up easy baskets. With him being only 6’1” and not having a long wingspan he needs to improve on preventing his guy from cutting with ease. Part of this will come with continuing to put on muscle – he weighs just 194 and should get up to about 205 with NBA conditioning.
He also needs to improve his shooting. He’s an incredibly streaky shooter as his percentages went from 42 percent 2 seasons ago to 34 percent last season. A lot of that has to do with the departure of Grant and Pat Connoaughton and the defense focusing on Jackson, but that shooting needs to improve. If he can shoot in the high 30s-low 40s, he’ll be a staple in the NBA for quite some time.
Draft Stock: With the emphasis on athletic point guards in the NBA, Jackson has seen his draft stock rise over the last year and a half. He was always a gifted player – a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school and playing significant minutes as a freshman. He’ll likely be bunched with Tyler Ulis, Wade Baldwin and Denzel Valentine as the second tier point guards behind Kris Dunn, but I’m giving Jackson the edge here. He’s projected all over the place in mocks, going from No. 17 to Memphis to No. 25 Los Angeles on CBS and No. 14 on DraftExpress to Chicago.
Projection: As I said I think he’s the second best point guard in this draft and I’m higher on him than most other people out there. The reason why is because of his ability to play in the pick-and-roll. He’s still learning how to be a true point guard, but that’s fine since it gives him the ability to play off the ball, especially if a team is going small-ball. He tested incredibly well at the combine and showed off his insane athleticism.
I see a lot of Eric Bledsoe in him, where you weren’t sure exactly what position he was coming out of college yet very athletic. Bledsoe slipped a little in the draft and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Jackson outplays his draft position, especially if he falls into the 20s. He’s going to be a starter in this league, even if he sits behind a Mike Conley or Chris Paul the first couple of years.
I’m not too worried about injuries with him and expect him to get a little bit stronger, helping his ability to finish in the lane. If he can improve defensively, he’ll solidify his spot as the second best point guard in this class.