The Phoenix Suns have a plethora of young talent with the centerpiece of their franchise being Devin Booker. It’s very likely that Deandre Ayton will solidify himself as the other pillar of their franchise but he hasn’t played an NBA game yet so it’s important to be patient. The rest of the roster has potential, but they need will need development from key supporting pieces like Josh Jackson.
Jackson was the 4th overall pick from the 2017 NBA Draft and is regarded as one of the highest potential players from that class. While Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma, and Lauri Markkanen were the players from Jackson’s draft class that earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First team, his averages of 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists were enough to be named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The main observations that could be made about Jackson during his rookie season were that he is an explosive athlete with great size for a wing player, is a good rebounder, and has the potential to be a highly impactful and versatile defender. However, he has a lot of room to improve on the offensive end of the floor, as a playmaker, as a jump shooter, and as a free throw shooter.
It’s important to observe Jackson’s season in two parts. The first part features up until the start of the new calendar year when he struggled a lot and the rest of the season when he showed significant improvement. He significantly increased his basic averages in key areas like scoring, rebounding, and passing while his scoring efficiency got better across the board too.
Averages Before January 1 (38 Games): 21.6 MIN, 9.0 PTS (37.8% FG, 23.9% 3P, 56.4% FT), 3.5 REB, 1.1 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.7 TOV.
Averages After January 1 (39 Games): 29.2 MIN, 17.2 PTS (44% FG, 27.9% 3P, 68.5% FT), 5.6 REB, 2.0 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.6 BLK, 2.1 TOV.
The need for Jackson to improve as a perimeter shooter and as a free throw shooter definitely remained even in his production after January 1, but the considerable improvement in many areas is a reason for positivity. Even managing to put up similar basic numbers with greater scoring efficiency and continued defensive improvement would be all that the Suns need from him in his second season in the NBA.
The focus of this article is not to analyze the specific areas that Jackson can improve. I will be doing that in a separate piece. Rather, I identified three reasons why his overall development is important for the immediate and long-term future of the Phoenix Suns:
Next Up: Reason 3