The Los Angeles Lakers have made this upcoming NBA Draft very intriguing for their fans across the world. Lonzo Ball seemed like the consensus pick for the Lakers with the second pick in the NBA Draft, but this last week has seen many twists in that plan.
Many opposing GM’s believe that it is now a two-horse race for which the Los Angeles Lakers select. It will either be Lonzo Ball, the electric point guard out of UCLA, or Josh Jackson, the defensive perimeter player out of the University of Kansas.
The Lakers need for a defensive wing to go along with Brandon Ingram is something that needs to be addressed this off-season. Los Angeles ranked 30th out of 30 teams last year in the defensive rating statistic, and that needs to improve if the Lakers ever want to get back to their title contending days. Luckily for them, they could draft that player this year.
Josh Jackson was an absolute pest on defense during his freshmen campaign.
Jackson already has a high defensive IQ for a player who hasn’t played in the NBA yet. At twenty years old, he is already capable of sliding his feet and staying in front of most players and has the ability to guard positions one through four. He has the lateral quickness to stay with guards attacking the lane and the physicality to defend the forward position either on the wing or down low.
His ability to jump through the roof helps protect the rim and makes up for his short wingspan. Jackson also rarely takes plays off on the defensive side of the ball and is always looking to play the passing lanes so he can pick the ball off and go coast to coast. He has a tendency to pick up a lot of fouls, so look for him to try and fix that during his NBA career.
What makes Jackson so intriguing for the Lakers is they already have one talented wing player in Brandon Ingram, who can make plays on the defensive side of the ball. If they were to pair Ingram up with Jackson, they would cause havoc on defense. The pairing would be very similar to the impact Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson had together when they were paired up for the Golden State Warriors.
Jackson and Ingram would be able to guard the opposing team’s two best wing players, giving the Lakers some much-needed help. Both players are great help defenders, and like to make the big time rejection or steal. Putting these two together would take the pressure off of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, both of which have showed signs of being below average defenders.
Being able to hide Russell and Randle’s defensive shortcomings would be a huge plus for Los Angeles. This means coach Luke Walton could afford to leave both players in during crunch time since Jackson and Ingram would hold the fort down on the defensive side.
Offensively, Jackson would likely be the fourth option scoring wise. Russell, Ingram and Randle have the offensive skill-set to put up a lot of points, and this would help Jackson’s growth on the offensive side of the ball. Not putting too much pressure on Jackson early to be the primary scoring option will go along way in developing his offensive game.
Jackson however can do certain things on offensively that will have an immediate impact. Jackson is a great transition player because he is constantly moving at full speed trying to finish off the fast break. He also has a tremendous ability to finish around the rim with his explosive alley-oops and insanely athletic lay-ups.
Jackson’s biggest weakness is shooting the long ball, which is a big problem in the current NBA. However, his three-point percentage did improve as the year went on.
If Jackson can continue to improve with this trend, the Lakers could possibly be getting the best player in this draft with the second pick. Jackson’s passing ability is an underrated aspect of his game, and he shows zero signs of being a selfish basketball player. Regardless of whether his shot is falling, Jackson seems to always be involved in the game on both sides.
Josh Jackson is a perfect fit for what the Lakers need. Jackson has the chance on being the best two-way player in this years draft class, and his positive attitude towards the game of basketball is a great asset for a team that needs to start winning more games. What was once a long shot now seems like a likely scenario in which the Lakers draft Josh Jackson.