Why Josh Jackson Should be the Suns #1 Target

Mar 23, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) reacts during the second half in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) reacts during the second half in the semifinals of the midwest Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Whether the Suns land the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth pick in the draft, Josh Jackson should be on the top of their draft board.


Jackson is the player the Suns desperately need. The biggest weakness on Phoenix’s roster is an elite defensive presence. With the departure of P.J. Tucker the Suns lost a huge edge. No longer do they have a player who can guard the opposing teams best offensive threat relentlessly. Jackson jumps passing lanes, closes out ruthlessly, and can guard point guards to power forwards. On offense, he is still slightly raw but has greatly progressed throughout the season. Jackson scores a majority of his points roaming. He is constantly running off screens and through defenses finding openings to exploit. The best part about Jackson’s offensive game is how he does not need the ball to be productive. Between his offensive rebounding, court vision, and screening ability, Jackson has solidified himself has the best two-way player in this draft.

Offensive game

The season began with Jackson’s offensive struggles were glaring, his three-point game being the biggest issue. In his first 17 games he made only a frightfully low 25% of his attempts, but as the season progressed made a drastic improvement over the remaining 18.

During the second half of the season Jackson shot 46.3% from three while making 1.4 on average per game. The significant change in shooting percentage is due to an adjustment in his shooting form. When you watch Jackson shoot the ball there is an obvious pattern in his form. He has a quirky hop motion that makes it awkward for him to time the release. Initially his release had a tendency of occurring right after the peak of his jump, even just slightly as he was coming down he would release the ball. Anyone who has ever played basketball knows that besides keeping your elbow in and squaring your shoulders to the hoop, the most important aspect is releasing the ball at the peak of your shooting motion. Luckily for Jackson he was able to adjust and significantly improve his issue.

Jackson is just as good if not better off ball than on ball. He is incredibly unselfish and strives to find teammates while driving to the basket. His ability to get others involved is a staple of his game. Only twice this season did Jackson have performances where he did not register an assist. 21 times he had 3 or more assists with a peak distributing game against North Carolina-Asheville where he finsisted with 7.

Besides his ability to distribute he may have the title as the best cutter to the hoop in college. His alley-oop dunking highlight reel is seemingly endless. Jackson is ridiculously athletic and is relentless at the hoop. Having a player that can get his own while significantly contributing to the team is other aspects is exactly the type of player the Suns need.

When Jackson is tasked to score with the ball in his hands, he has the talent to create opportunities out of limited space. Even though it is not his greatest attribute, Jackson can also step back and make a shot.

Phoenix consists of heavy ISO scorers like Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, and T.J. Warren. The roster could significantly benefit from a player who is elite in other facets of the offense.

Defensive game

Jackson’s defense is what separates him from every other prospect. Combining his defensive-mindedness with his insane athleticism and you have a freak prospect that every NBA team will want. Jackson ranks among the best in the Big 12 in defensive stats;

  • 4th in defensive box score plus minus
  • 5th in defensive win shares
  • 5th in total rebounds
  • 5th in steals
  • 9th in defensive rating

Jackson locks into the opposing teams best defender, cuts passing lanes, and chases down blocks like none other. There is practically no wing defender comparable in college. The best part of Jackson being an overall defender is that most people underrate is his contributions off the stat sheet. He is similar to Tony Allen or Kawhi Leonard in this respect. The advanced stats do not tell the full story. But a simple eye test proves the full effort and his overal impact on defense.

NBA Comparison

Jackson’s NBA comparison has been to Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard. Those comparisons seem slightly over-hyped and even reactionary to recent play and the need to create excitement for the draft. I Believe that about everything in Jackson’s game is most similar to Andre Iguodala. Elite defender, great passer for a small forward, and if needed can carry the scoring load. From how Jackson has played in college it does not seem unreasonable that Jackson can reach 07-08 Iguodala status with possibly better rebounding numbers.

Jackson is the perfect fit for the Suns.