As the return from Sacramento from the Harrison Barnes trade, Justin Jackson closed his first stint in Dallas strong to the tune of eight points per game while shooting 37 percent from three on three attempts per night.
There were whispers last summer (however unfounded they were) that Jackson put weight on his slight frame and could be a sleeper to earn a starting spot in the rotation. However, he started the season off the bench and fell out of the rotation after the fourth game of the season. He did have a hot November, where he shot an insane 47% from three, but collapsed the rest of the season.
After clocking 17 minutes per game through the first four games, Jackson played only nine minutes per contest in the next eight games, cracking double-digit minutes only twice.
That was foretelling of the 24-year-old’s season.
Where were they before the break?
In 58 games Jackson averaged 5.7 points, less than one assist and 2.4 rebounds. He’s averaging 16 minutes per game , while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. Every single number mentioned here is a career low.
The season wasn’t all bad for the Chapel Hill product. Jackson dropped 19 points and grabbed six rebounds while going 7-of-11 from the floor in the Mavericks 143-101 annihilation of the Cavaliers in late November. He also contributed 15 points (6-of-10 from the field, 3-of-5 from three) in 15 minutes in the Mavericks road upset against the Lakers on December 1. He’s had moments, it’s just lacked the consistency we all would have hoped for.
But for a young player receiving a fresh start on a team that lacked wing depth, Jackson’s third professional season could have gone much better.
8. That’s the number of times the 6’7’’ forward grabbed five or more rebounds in his 58 appearances. It’s a very low number that surely contributed to Jackson’s inconsistent playing time.
Outlook for Orlando
Earlier this week Jackson revealed he was one of the first Mavericks back in the practice facilities in May working on getting back into a rhythm.
“I wanted to show I was ready,” Jackson told the media. “I wanted to show I was ready to get this going again.”
Rick Carlisle certainly noticed heaping praise on his forward while discussing his role in Orlando.
“He’s going to be a real key guy off the bench, and I really like where is game is right now,” Carlisle told the media. “ He’s one of those guys who worked really hard…when the gym opened back up. He was in there every day busting his butt both on the court and voluntarily in the weight room.”
Carlisle also mentioned Jackson’s versatility as a crucial element during the playoffs.
“We need him as a two position player,” Carlsile said. “His offensive skill set is very unique for a guy who is 6’8’’. The way he moves, the way he passes and cuts. He shoots the ball great. His floater game is really one of the best maybe I’ve ever seen in 35 years in this league. He’s a great team guy, so he’s a really important guy for us.”
Jackson undoubtedly has unique touch with his running floaters, and Carlisle also touched on his length defensively playing a role down the stretch. And with Courtney Lee out for the season, Jackson will likely be called on.
With four months off Jackson has a chance at a fresh start. And in his first playoff appearance he’ll have a chance to make good on his head coach’s support.