NBA Draft Prospects: Top 5 Wings
1. Josh Jackson, Kansas Jayhawks
Before freshman Josh Jackson showed up on campus in Lawrence the season before last, the Kansas Jayhawks were already considered one of the best teams in college basketball. They finished the 2015-16 campaign with a 33-5 record, a Big 12 title, and an appearance in the Elite Eight, where they lost to the eventual champion Villanova Wildcats.
In 2016-17, the Jayhawks returned their number three and four scorers, but lost numbers one and two to the draft and graduation. And that's where the youthful Jackson proved himself valuable, to the tune of 16.3 points across 30.8 minutes per game.
In his one year under coach Bill Self, the 6'8" forward ranked top six in the Big 12 in points, rebounds (7.4) and steals (1.7). From that, it became clear that Jackson's length (6'9.75" wingspan) and athleticism were too much for smaller ball handlers and shooters, as he swatted a shot per contest, while tallying a team-high 2.2 defensive win shares in 35 games.
Jackson's an elite defender and rebounder, but his shooting is the real question mark heading into Thursday night's Draft.
Of the 20-year-old's 16.3 points per game, the overwhelming majority (13.4 points) of his production came from either inside the arc or at the free throw line. When you break it down further, though, that distribution is somewhat deceiving.
While Jackson converted 69% of attempts at the rim (per Hoop-Math.com) and averaged .403 free throws per field goal attempt, he shot just 38.1% on two-point jumpers and 37.8% on three-point jumpers. Furthermore, of all those trips to the free throw line, Jackson's 56.6% success rate reflects flawed and inconsistent shooting mechanics.
He exposes a lazy release point when shooting off the dribble, as witnessed by his two-point attempts assisted percentage (18.6%) versus the percentage of his three-point attempts assisted (85.3%). Remember, though: Kawhi Leonard -- Jackson's most common comparable -- shot worse from both two-point (47.8%) and three-point range (29.1%) in his final year in school, and he turned out okay.
With a similar build and possessing the same type of defensive skills, Leonard is Jackson's ceiling, and teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, owners of, respectively, the two and three picks, have to be thinking the same thing.