When Justin Jackson announced that he was officially forgoing his senior season to enter the NBA Draft, I wasn’t really surprised or upset. I mean, would any Tar Heel fan love to have a player like Justin back for one more year? Yes. Did I also join in on the “One more year!” chants during his speech at the welcome home party in the Dean Dome? Maybe. But frankly, Justin Jackson put everything out on the table for the team and the fans this season and it would be selfish to ask for more.

A lot of times, it can be pretty difficult to predict how a college player will pan out in the NBA. It usually boils down to wild, fantastical comparisons that are made, such as calling Ben Simmons the next LeBron. (Or that time I compared Buddy Hield to a young Kobe Bryant)

However, I am officially going out on a limb and saying that Justin Jackson is completely NBA ready and will be incredible in the pros. In fact, here’s what I tweeted shortly after the announcement to seal the deal on my prediction.

Here’s why I think he’s going to be great


Metrics

Height: 6′ 8″

Weight: 193

Wingspan: 6′ 10.8″

Vertical: 34″

Jackson’s lanky, thin frame makes for an excellent shooting guard in the NBA, in the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton. His height and wingspan will give him an advantage over most guards that are shorter, while he still has the speed and athleticism of a smaller player.

Justin exploited these matchups time and time again this season, such as when he scored 32 against Kentucky in the regular season. For the majority of the game, Jackson was defended by either Isaiah Briscoe or Malik Monk, of which both of them are 6’3″.

He constantly used his height and length advantage throughout the season and can be expected to do so in the NBA. Also, Jackson’s knack for high-arcing floaters gives him the ability to play with defenders of his own size or larger. Watch for prime examples of his float game at the 30 and 40 second marks in this highlight video of the 2017 Final Four game against Oregon.


Statistics

18.3 points

4.7 rebounds

2.8 assists

Jackson’s production went up tremendously this season, with a 50% increase in points per game and a 21% increase in rebounds per game from his sophomore year stats. Also, Justin finished with over 100 3-pointers made this season, completely bashing the original UNC record of 95.

Shooting a total of 44% this season, Jackson became a very consistent scorer. He shot 51% from 2 and 37% from 3, which is highly impressive given the volume of shots that he was putting up every game.

Offensively, Justin is a pure scorer that will fit nicely into the role of a guard that can come off of any screen and put up a sweet shot.


Defense

Justin’s length and quickness gives him a strong ability to close out on the perimeter and be a pesky defender for ball handlers. Also, he has a knack for grabbing the ball in tough loose-ball or jump-ball situations that will be helpful in the NBA.

Many scouts and analysts will question his thin frame as he transitions to playing defense against stronger opponents. However, as it has been proven time and time again, a guard or small forward with length does not always need size. If Jackson can gain around 10-15 pounds and play physical, he will be a very solid defender.


Mock Drafts

The latest mock drafts have Justin Jackson going anywhere from the 10th spot (CBS) to 27th (nbadraft.net). This is obviously a very wide range, but most speculations tend to agree on an area in the 10-15 range.

The most interesting pick would obviously be the Charlotte Hornets at #11. The Hornets have a lot of pieces at the SG/SF position, however none of them really have the ability to light it up like Jackson can on the offensive end.

My prediction is that JJacks will go to the Denver Nuggets at the #13 pick. The Nuggets barely missed the playoffs this year and it would be a perfect match for Jackson to move in as their 6th man. He would have time to learn under other young rising stars, such as Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic (yes, he’s a center but his passing is incredible).

Nonetheless, I fully believe that Justin Jackson can enter the league and fulfill a solid role early. His scoring and body type is perfect for the scoring guard prototype.


Just as a reminder, you can call me out in 3 years if I was wrong, but…

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ACC Department Head / Content Contributor for Armchair UNC / The Armchair All-Americans LLC
I am nothing but a southern boy, from the prototype of small town USA; raised on sweet tea, good manners, and basketball. I modeled my game as a averagely athletic, Tyler Hansbrough with a jumpshot and it earned me a few emails from D-3 schools, so I write now. I attend the University of North Carolina and treat our teams like royalty. Go Heels, Go America, baby!
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ACC Department Head / Content Contributor for Armchair UNC / The Armchair All-Americans LLC
I am nothing but a southern boy, from the prototype of small town USA; raised on sweet tea, good manners, and basketball. I modeled my game as a averagely athletic, Tyler Hansbrough with a jumpshot and it earned me a few emails from D-3 schools, so I write now. I attend the University of North Carolina and treat our teams like royalty. Go Heels, Go America, baby!

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