As of right now, three draft prospects are projected to be selected in the range that the Pistons pick - Wade Baldwin, Demetrius Jackson, and Tyler Ulis. As previously covered by DBB, the Pistons have been in touch with each and are vetting them closely. The three are each very different players, each coming with their own distinct pros and cons.
Gotta love my Indiana fellas. And there's a lot to love about Jackson's potential.
But let's start with the fact that Jackson doesn't have great size or length. For teams looking for their next PGOTF, that tends to be a dealbreaker. He nearly hits 6'2 in shoes, and fortunately basketball players wear shoes, but only has a 6'5 wingspan. Fine, but not great. So it's unlikely that a team will draft him with the expectation that they've found their future starting point guard.
In terms of ability though, Jackson shows all the skills you look for in a starting point guard. He can create his own shot. When the ball is swung to him, he'll knock it down. He's an excellent finisher, and has the ability to get to the rim.
If you're drawn to Jackson, it all starts with his athleticism. Plenty of folks have great athleticism, but Jackson is one of those guys who knows how to use it to be successful. He's able to use his quickness to blow by defenders and his 43 inch vertical to elevate on jumpers and at the rim.
Too often though, when you see an extremely athletic player, it takes a while for them to learn how to play efficiently. That's not the case with Jackson. He finished his Notre Dame career with a terrific 58 percent true shooting percentage and just a 14 percent turnover percentage. He was also excellent at getting to the free throw line, converting at 81 percent last season.
Jackson isn't necessarily cut from the pure point guard template, with an assist percentage of just 25 percent last season - and that was his career high by a considerable margin. It also coincided with a big jump in his usage rate.
But the Pistons don't exactly run a style where they need a point guard distributing with an assist percentage north of 40 percent. Stan Van Gundy seems to need his point guard to be a threat to score, especially out of the pick and roll. Jackson can fit there.
Here's the catch though - Jackson will be 22 to start the season. For a 22 year old, you ought to be looking for more than 15 points and 4 assists per game out of a point guard prospect.
And I look at the fella he's replacing, Jerian Grant. Grant was arguably better than Jackson ever was at Notre Dame, but looked awful in New York despite being a 23-year-old rookie.
If the Pistons draft Jackson, it's to be able to make an instant impact with the Pistons. Unlike a prospect like Baldwin, Jackson doesn't have that same combo guard potential. So the best Detroit could offer Jackson long term would be backup minutes behind Reggie Jackson.
So what's the best-case scenario?
Jackson develops into a plus backup point guard. Well then someone wants him for their starting point guard, and Detroit is left back at square one. It's tough to use a draft pick to develop a player as a backup.
Maybe. I don't know. If you look at Jackson's effectiveness, he was arguably better last season playing with Grant. His efficiency and defensive numbers were both up. Maybe he's better suited to being off the ball? So perhaps the Pistons could draft him as the primary backup point guard, but get even better minutes with him playing alongside Jackson? Heck, I don't know.