Josh Jackson is another in a long line of failed first round picks

Phoenix Suns Josh Jackson (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Josh Jackson (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Even if Josh Jackson had not gotten himself in trouble in Florida, the Phoenix Suns were still looking at yet another failed first round pick.

First round picks are a gamble, no matter what the team and where they are selecting.

Talent is nearly impossible to truly grade in most cases, and one must look at all players taken in the NBA Draft as a lottery ticket: you hope to win the jackpot; (depending on where they are selecting) you hope to win a few bucks; you are okay  if you only break even; and only in sports and not in a Circle K, you are really upset if you lose money on the purchase.

If one can quantify talent and production into a monetary comparison, then the Phoenix Suns have lost a lot of money on failed and thus wasted first round picks in the last ten years, the total of which is staggering.

Even if Josh Jackson had not been arrested in Florida (and then attempted to flee while already handcuffed), he was, by all statistical accounts, a bust.

Most fans still love him as a player, but they did not love him for what he is, they love him for what he was projected to become.

Those projections though are all part of the gamble that is the lottery.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

From that perspective, I defend, to a point, the Phoenix Suns and those who have both scouted and rated prospective talent, and those who have drafted players since the year 2009: those jobs are extraordinarily difficult since not only are they rating a human being and attempting to grade out who he will become in a world or infinite variables, but they are doing so with more often than not with an extremely small sample size from which to judge.

I dare you to have predicted who you  would be when you were only 19-years-old, five years from then.

I certainly would have predicted my entire future incorrectly.

And yet – that is their job(s)  and those professionals are paid very handsomely to do it better than anyone else in the world so when a single franchise fails time and time again, it is hard to continually give said franchise the benefit of the doubt, and instead question if they even have the intellectual capacity to do the job with any modicum of consistency and ability.

Even if you still believe that Josh Jackson can and/or will become a very good player in the NBA, it cannot be ignored that his statistics, and in particular his Win Share rating, is far  less than expected for a player of both his pedigree and draft position.

I use Win Share in particular as that statistic was developed to attempt to bridge the gap from the past and the present, as well as explain the helpfulness of a player to his team, regardless of record.

For instance: both Deandre Ayton and Josh Jackson played on the same 19-63 team last season. So to compare who helped his team win more than another, Win Share is the best possible statistic to use to compare any two players.

Deandre Ayton: 5.8 (second best in his entire draft class behind only Mitchell Robinson, and ahead of Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, Trae Young, etc.)

Josh Jackson: -1.7 (of the 53 players from his draft class, Jackson holds the worst Win Share score of -2.4)

To put it simply: Deandre Ayton helped the Phoenix Suns win. Josh Jackson hurt their chances.

But this piece isn’t meant to pound on Josh Jackson. On the contrary, I hope that his Florida incident was a wake up call. More than just his game and time with Phoenix, I hope that he uses that event to take a large step forward in his maturity and figures the rest of his life out.

No, this is to illustrate how many wasted first round picks Phoenix has had since 2009 – any one of which if it had been the right pick would have potentially made the Suns a regular playoff participant this entire era of losing:

2009: (14) Early Clark – WS/2.9. Still available: Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Darren Collison, Taj Gibson, Danny Green.

2011: (13) Markieff Morris – WS/23.7. Still available: Kawhi Leonard (the Suns didn’t take him because he sweat through his suit. Nothing else matters at that point).

2012: (13) Kendall Marshall – WS/1.0. Still available: Evan Fournier, Jae Crowder, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton.

2013: (5) Alex Len – WS/15.6. Still available: CJ McCollum, Steven Adams, Giannis Antetokounmpo (that one REALLY hurts), Dennis Schroder, Rudy Gobert.

2014: (18) Tyler Ennis – WS/1.3. Still available: Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Clint Capela.

2016: (4) Dragan Bender and (8) Marquese Chriss – Bender WS/0.2 and Chriss WS/2.3. Still available: Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Thon Maker, Dejounte Murray.

2017: (4) Josh Jackson – WS/-2.4. Still available: De’Aaron Fox, Lauri Markkanen, Dennis Smith, Malik Monk, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, John Collins, Kyle Kuzma.

Since owner Robert Sarver loves to live his ownership life on the cheap, the draft is how the team must  improve most and blown draft picks time-and-time again are just not acceptable.

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Therefore the biggest “duh” statement that can be made about the 2019 NBA Draft is that the Phoenix Suns must  get it right. Regardless of where they pick, they must  walk out of the draft with a player who may not necessarily be their next superstar, but will at least be a player who will make an impact on the team right away and develop into a T.J. Warren at the least.

The draft is too vitally important to this franchise and ten years of wasted first round picks (these were the high picks too, I didn’t even mention Bogdon Bogdonovic or Archie Goodwin) is far too long to have only selected three legitimate core pieces (Warren, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton), and no fewer than eight (although ten if you include Bogdonovic and Goodwin) were total and complete wastes of first round draft picks.