“I’ve seen point guards. I have the best point guards. Point guards love me…Believe me. This kid is a great, great player. Great player–and I know lots of great players.”
- Donald J. Trump (paraphrased)
NBA DRAFT PICK No. 11
DEMETRIUS JACKSON, JUNIOR, NOTRE DAME
Demetrius Jackson is an explosive point guard out of Notre Dame that turned a lot of heads this season. This year, he averaged 15.8 points / 4.7 assists / 3.5 rebounds on .557 percent shooting from two and .331 percent shooting from three with a PER of 21.0. As a sophomore, Jackson shared the Notre Dame backcourt with Jerian Grant in one of the best seasons Irish Basketball ever had, a trip to the Elite Eight and a top-10 finish in both the pre- and post-tournament polls. Jackson helped get them back to the Elite Eight this season, where they lost to No. 1 seed North Carolina by 14.
After the departures of Grant and Pat Connaughton, Jackson took on a much more defined leadership role in the team. His usage percentage increased from 18.5% to 24.1%, while, impressively, his turnover percentage essentially stayed the same (a slight increase from 13% to 13.3%). This season, Notre Dame finished with the eighth-best offensive efficiency rating in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy. His assist percentage also dramatically increased from 15.9% to 25.1%.
Jackson is a prototypical NBA point guard, which, by the way, is not a bad thing. He is fast off the dribble, can get to the rim, and he’s very athletic and strong – though the fact he only gets to the line about 2.9 times per game is fairly concerning. He’s good in the pick-and-roll, which can be seen throughout this video of his against Duke (particularly, watch the assist he gets at 1:09).
Though he doesn’t have a particularly high PER, much of this is due to his need to control the offense completely, as he was far and away Notre Dame’s most valuable player on the offensive end. He got more touches than anybody else on the team, probably because he can do stuff like this:
The most obvious knock on Jackson is his size, specifically his height. He’s only 6-1 and has a relatively average wingspan of 6-5. This shows on defense occasionally as he has trouble defending passing lanes, although this is more of a problem on Notre Dame as a team in general.
Also troubling was his major dip in three-point percentage from his sophomore to his junior season: he went from shooting a very solid .429 percent from behind the arc to a very suspect .331 percent in the ‘15-16 season. In all likelihood this is due to the loss of Jerian Grant, whose absense led to reduced spacing in ND’s offense this year. Still, that isn’t an enticing trend, and isn’t what you want to see from a modern floor general. Given the role he’s likely to play in the NBA next year, having a respectable outside shot is more necessity than bonus.
Overall, Jackson looks like he has many of the tools to become a very effective distributor and scorer though, as he showed in college, he may need time to develop. The improvements he made from his freshman year to his junior year speak to the fact that he’s willing to develop; the system he lands in will determine his effectiveness and how fast he will reach his ceiling.
Hopefully he doesn’t get drafted by the Kings.