What must Demetrius Jackson do to earn a role with the Philadelphia 76ers and beyond?
Sitting at the end of the bench for any team is tough and requires dedication and persistence to gain the trust of teammates and the coach. Sitting at the end of the bench for a playoff team, however, is undoubtedly more difficult.
Every game can determine the playoff position for the team and less game time is used for the purpose of developing young players. Demetrius Jackson, the 45th pick in the 2016 NBA draft, finds himself at the bottom of an uphill battle for playing time and will have to improve dramatically over this season if his NBA hopes are going to continue.
Gone are the days of the Process basketball, where players were given minutes in games before they were necessarily ready. Our starting lineups no longer involve K.J. McDaniels or JaKarr Sampson. Jackson needs to prove to Brett Brown and Elton Brand or any other team that he can play efficient basketball and help his team win if he wants to get a new contract after his two-way contract expires.
If you are unfamiliar, the two-way contract allows players to spend up to 45 days with their NBA teams. The rest of the time is for developing in the G-League.
Here’s what Demetrius Jackson needs to improve on for this upcoming season.
It is easy to see that Jackson has a gift for driving and finishing around the rim. A 6-foot-1 point guard being able to finish around the basket is great attribute, but not a necessity for the Philadelphia 76ers this upcoming season. The team already has enough point guards that can get easily to the basket. Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and even T.J. McConnell can get to the basket with ease.
The Sixers, like nearly every other team in the league, instead need three-point shooting. This is an area which Jackson needs to improve on. While playing in the D-League (now G-League) last season, Jackson shot a little above 35 percent on threes on about four attempts a game. While 35 percent from three is certainly not a terrible percentage from outside the arc, it is simply too low for a modern-day point guard that would be playing a primarily catch-and-shoot role in the Sixers offense.
There is hope for Jackson to improve his three-point percentage. In his sophomore year of college he shot a red-hot 43 percent from outside the arc. If he can bring his percentage up just a few more tics, Jackson will get a chance to play. He needs to show that he can consistently make threes while during his 45 days with the Sixers.
Every undersized point guard acquires the term “defensive liability” regardless of on-court production. The consensus is that a smaller player will be switched onto a bigger one and bully-balled into the post is a real aspect of the game that Sixers fans see almost every game. Except whereas it is normally a smaller guard being beaten by a regular-sized guard, instead Ben Simmons backs down normal-sized guards and scores with ease.
Many teams are weary of players that are considered defensive liabilities. For Demetrius Jackson, a 6-foot-1 point guard, this idea will be pushed onto him. Jackson must work extremely hard to show that he can hold his own against bigger players.
Jackson certainly has the ability to be a competent defender. In his DraftExpress scouting report, Jackson was praised for his natural abilities. Here’s what Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz wrote in their report on the Notre Dame product.
Defensively, Jackson’s swift hands, quick feet, long arms and strong frame gives him a good baseline to develop into an above average stopper in time, despite his lack of size.
If Jackson wants to get a contract after this year, he must improve his defensive play and demonstrate a willingness to defend on every play.
As the Sixers loss on last Monday shows, Demetrius Jackson sometimes has issues sharing the ball. I will admit that if the shot had gone in, I would be singing a different tune. Jackson was converted into a point guard during college and is still learning the ropes for the position. Last season in the G-League, he averaged a mere 4.5 assists in 28 minutes a game. This is an area that needs to be improved on if he wants to be a quality NBA point guard.
In conclusion, Demetrius Jackson needs to show some major improvements in his shooting, playmaking, and defensive play while with the team if he wants to get an NBA contract from a team next season. He most likely will not immediately transition to a solid role player, but he can work his way to that level if he continues to work on his game in an NBA setting and at the G-League level.