Less than three months after he led the North Carolina Tar Heels to a national title, Justin Jackson learned Thursday he’ll suit up for the Sacramento Kings after he was selected 15th overall in the 2017 NBA draft.
Jackson was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the pick, but his rights were part of a deal in which the Kings received pick Nos. 15 and 20, and he will partner with No. 5 overall pick De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento.
Twitter had this to say about the Kings’ second first-round pick in the draft:
Jackson was solid as a sophomore to the tune of 12.2 points per game for a UNC team that made a run to the national title game, but his stroke left something to be desired. In 40 games, Jackson shot 46.6 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from three-point land.
However, Jackson made major strides as a junior when he tallied a career-best 18.3 points per game and drilled 37.0 percent of his threes during a standout campaign that boosted his draft stock in a big way, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman:
Jackson’s long-range shooting chops were on display throughout the NCAA tournament, when he averaged 19.5 points per game en route to a national championship.
His signature performance of the tournament came at a good time, too, as he poured in 22 points and made four threes in a tight 77-76 Final Four win over the Oregon Ducks:
One NBA scout told NBA.com’s David Aldridge:
“He shot it better this year. I’m not convinced the league believes that’s real, although his mechanics are pretty good. He can really pass. He’s really slight. He looks the same to me that he did three years ago—scrawny. I don’t think he’ll put on a lot of weight, but if he commits to get in the weight room he can get that kind of Will Barton wiry strength.”
To that point, Jackson—who’s listed at 6’8” and 193 pounds—will have to bulk up if he wants to hold his own defensively on the perimeter against NBA wings.
But with a long reach, quick feet, good instincts and the catch-and-shoot capabilities necessary to be a legitimate rotation player, Jackson should emerge as a quality three-and-D option in a year or two.
Now headed to Sacramento, Jackson will team up with Buddy Hield to comprise the Kings’ perimeter duo of the future.
Although the Kings have previously struck out on wings in the draft like Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas, Jackson is a high-floor addition with two-way chops that should allow him to thrive under head coach Dave Joerger.
And with Tyreke Evans and Rudy Gay headed for the open market on July 1, Jackson will give the Kings a safety net at small forward as they begin to rebuild their roster without DeMarcus Cousins.
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