Jaren Jackson Jr. has all the skills of a modern NBA center. That potential has him among the top prospects in the Draft. Someone will bet on his future.
Every Draft, there is inevitably the one prospect that wows purely on his potential and athleticism alone. The production is there. As is the wow factor on the court. But not always consistently. The dream is to see what they can become. Especially when they are so young.
That is where Jaren Jackson Jr. fits in.
His play is impressive in the short bursts he actually gets consistent playing time. If Marvin Bagley III’s problem is he has too much offense and not enough defense and Mohamed Bamba’s problem is he has too much defense without enough offense, Jaren Jackson Jr. should lie somewhere in the middle.
But that middle is full of potential and very good.
Jackson’s per 40-minute numbers stand out more than anything else. He averaged 20.0 points per 40 minutes, 10.6 rebounds per 40 minutes and an astounding 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes. That all pops off the page and showed what kind of impact Jackson could have.
Jackson is a great shot blocker and a smart defender. He was not afraid to mix things up and make his presence felt in the paint.
And that athleticism translated to the offensive end too. He could put the ball on the floor and make some rudimentary moves, using his raw skill to get past defenders and to the basket. If that did not work, he was comfortable shooting from the perimeter.
With his length, it is easy to get wrapped up in all the potential he has inside. There is a lot to like about Jackson’s game. His potential burst out.
But, of course, no one plays 40 minutes per game. And Jackson certainly did not — settling in at 21.8 per game. Jackson, one of the youngest players in this Draft, was often an overeager defender. He fouled a lot, possibly by design, the Michigan State Spartans allowing him to use his energy to mix things up.
Whether Jackson can gain control will be the big question facing him as he enters the league. But everyone seems to believe the upside of him doing so is great. If he can reign in his youthful exuberance, then almost certainly he is a center that fits the modern age. He is a center who can step out and hit jumpers, defend the perimeter, defend the post and protect the rim.
What more could anyone want from a center?