The case for Duke's Frank Jackson as a Sixers' 2nd-round pick

The case for Duke's Frank Jackson as a Sixers' 2nd-round pick

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Frank Jackson
Position: PG/SG
School: Duke
Height: 6-4
Weight: 205
Wingspan: 6-7 1/2

The NBA Finals are over, so it's time to dive head first into the NBA draft, which will take place in just nine days. As with every season, there are a fair number of players from the blue-blood programs like Kentucky and Duke entering the draft. Counted in that exclusive pool this year is Frank Jackson, who committed to the draft after one season in the backcourt in Durham, North Carolina.

Jackson was expected to return to Duke for his sophomore year, but he surprised many by signing with an agent and keeping his name in the draft, forgoing his last three years of eligibility. Let's look into why he's in the draft and whether he fits with the Sixers and their slew of second-round picks. 

The case for Jackson

That's the best word to describe him. If you're wondering why someone who often came off the bench his freshman year declared for (and stayed in) the draft, that's why. Jackson has the physical tools to explode toward the basket and finish with the best of them.

Jackson is only 19 years old and won't turn 20 until after his first NBA season, making him easily one of the youngest players in this class. The former Utah Mr. Basketball played a combo-guard role for the Blue Devils this year and was solid in bursts. His first step can overtake a defender at once and give him the edge to get to the basket. He's proficient enough to finish and has a nice floater in the midrange.

With a lot of talent surrounding him at Duke, Jackson brought a certain physicality to the backcourt that was lacking at times. He slashes to the basket and has a 42-inch vertical leap. Not bad. Not bad at all. It's likely his physical tools that kept him in the draft with teams craving a player with his projectable talent. 

He can also shoot well, going 39.5 percent from beyond the arc while taking a lot of his shots from around the arc. He's able to finish off the dribble or on the catch. Unlike some players, he doesn't check out when others have the ball on offense. You can see his full offensive toolset on display during his 22-point night against Florida State in February.

On defense, his 6-7½ wingspan gives him the ability to stay with guards and overcome his average height for a shooting guard, which is likely his position at the next level. 

The case against Jackson
You start defensively. His wingspan helps, but his overall size is a concern. There are certainly 6-foot-4 (or smaller) shooting guards in the NBA. However, there are also many who fit that profile yet failed to stick in the Association. 

Jackson would get beaten off the dribble a fair amount by some smaller, quicker point guards while at Duke. Considering his size, he won't be able to switch onto wings — who also touched him up on drives in college — and the NBA's elite guards could have a field day with Jackson. He'll need to maintain focus, stay with opposing two-guards and remain with them beyond the arc.

Offensively, he doesn't quite have the tools to play the point. Not in the NBA. He's simply not a primary ballhandler with the kinds of defenders he'll face. Too often, better defenders could pressure him into weak turnovers or contested shots. His handle didn't let him get to the rim against some athletic opponents, although FSU wasn't an issue for him.

This isn't to say that Jackson can't broaden his game at the next level and learn to make more of the right passes nor is it fair to say he's a minus on offense. He still has a lot of potential, but his game still needs work. Like every 19-year-old.

The final concern with Jackson is one all too familiar to Sixers fans: A foot injury. He underwent right foot surgery last month to fix a stress fracture, which he suffered during the college season. He's expected to be back by next month and he still looked good at the NBA Draft Combine despite the injury. 

If it wasn't for his foot injury, Jackson likely would have been a late first-round pick. Now, it's unclear, but he'll probably be a second-round selection, giving the Sixers a shot at acquiring the guard.

Jackson could easily slot into the Sixers' bench if he improves on the defensive end. You're not necessarily looking for a star in the second round and someone with the physical tools to be a first-round pick is a nice get with multiple shots to take at the end of the draft. 

Whether he can get to the rim as easily or if his jump shot is too long to get it off at the next level are questions which will hang over his head. Yet you're going to get someone with warts in the second round. Jackson is worth considering if he falls to the Sixers and he'd be a good get anywhere from pick 36 to 50.

Best of NBA: Clippers spoil Lonzo Ball's debut in rout of Lakers

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Best of NBA: Clippers spoil Lonzo Ball's debut in rout of Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin scored 29 points, DeAndre Jordan added 14 points and 24 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers spoiled Lonzo Ball's quiet NBA debut with a 108-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Lou Williams added 12 points in the Clippers' first game since Chris Paul spurned the perennial playoff team after six years and forced an offseason trade to Houston. The Clippers will have a new look this season, but they were still miles ahead of their Staples Center co-tenants in both teams' season openers.

Ball had three points, four assists and nine rebounds in 29 minutes during the first game for the No. 2 overall pick from UCLA.

The Los Angeles-area native is expected to revitalize his hometown team this season, but the rookie started out with all the nerves and mistakes that might be expected from any 19-year-old point guard with the weight of a 16-time NBA champion franchise on his slender shoulders. Along with a handful of good-looking passes and a 3-pointer late in the first half, he went 1 for 6 from the field and committed two turnovers.

Brook Lopez scored 20 points in his debut for the Lakers, and Jordan Clarkson added 18.

Patrick Beverley, acquired in Paul's trade to the Rockets, had 10 points in his Clippers debut while introducing Ball to high-level NBA defense (see full recap).

Thunder debut new Big 3 in win over Knicks
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook had a triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 105-84 on Thursday night in their first regular-season game with All-Star additions Paul George and Carmelo Anthony

Westbrook, the NBA MVP last season when he averaged a triple-double, had with 21 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds.

Paul George, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, led the Thunder with 28 points. Anthony, who was traded from the Knicks to the Thunder right before training camp began, had 22 points against his former team.

Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Enes Kanter, who joined the Knicks in the deal that sent Anthony to the Thunder, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. No other New York players scored in double figures.

George broke away for a dunk as time expired in the first half to give the Thunder a 53-42 lead. Porzingis scored 19 points before the break to keep the Knicks in it.

Kanter made three buckets early in the third quarter to keep the Knicks in it, but Westbrook found Steven Adams and Andre Roberson for back-to-back alley-oop dunks to give the Thunder a 69-52 lead.

After that, it was time for the Westbrook triple-double watch. He reached double digits in points and assists midway through the third quarter. He grabbed his 10th rebound with about four minutes remaining in the game (see full recap).

Raptors cruise past Bulls in season opener
TORONTO -- Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds, C.J. Miles scored 22 points in his Toronto debut and the Raptors beat the short-handed Chicago Bulls 117-101 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Norman Powell added 15 points, Delon Wright had 13, and Kyle Lowry 12.

The Raptors, who intend to shoot more 3-pointers and move the ball more this season, were 13 of 29 from long range and had 26 assists on 39 baskets. Lowry had nine assists, and DeMar DeRozan and Wright each had five.

Miles was 6 for 9 from 3-point range and had five rebounds.

Playmaking proved an effective avenue for DeRozan on a night when he made just two of nine field goals and did not attempt a 3-pointer. DeRozan finished with 11 points, going 7 for 8 at the free throw line, and had six rebounds.

Chicago center Robin Lopez scored 18 points, rookie Lauri Markkanen had 17 in his NBA debut, and Justin Holiday added 15.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said forward Nikola Mirotic is doing OK but is still sore two days after suffering facial fractures and a concussion in a practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis. Chicago suspended Portis for eight games following the altercation. Mirotic is expected to be out from four to six weeks (see full recap).

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers' first home game is Friday night, and if their season opener in Washington, D.C., was any indication of the fans’ excitement level, the Wells Fargo Center will be rowdy. 

Sixers fans traveled to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday and started a “Trust the Process” chant less than a minute into the game, much to the dismay of the Wizards crowd.

That enthusiasm and loyalty was not lost on the players. They are ready to feed off the vibe at the Wells Fargo Center when they host the Celtics. 

“First of all, Philly fans are passionate and I love that about them,” Joel Embiid said. “Just me going out there, playing hard and making plays just to get them off their seat and cheer and yell and just go crazy, I just love that type of atmosphere. It gets me going, too.”

Some players block out the noise from the stands, especially if they aren’t hitting their shots. Embiid, though, wants to hear the support and repay it on the court. 

“If I miss foul shots and then they’re cheering, I know that the next play I’ve got to do better,” he said. “I’ve got to make a crazy block or I’ve got to make a crazy play to get them going. Then that gets me going too because I love the excitement. Since I’ve been in Philly, I’ve embraced it and I just love it.”

The players don’t want the fans to hold back, either. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has played in intense game environments overseas and welcomes the high energy in Philadelphia. 

“Here, whenever you go in the street, people call your name, cheer for you,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “During the game, it gets you going. The crazier they are, the better you feel and the better you’re going to play. It’s the best thing.”

Brett Brown always has emphasized the responsibility he feels to give the crowd a quality product. He reiterated that doing his job well is on his mind every game. For the first time in his tenure, Brown can debut a roster constructed with direction and a foundation.

“I’m confident and comfortable with what we’ve built, that we can deliver this year’s team to a court knowing that the base is there, there are people we really like and see as part of the future,” he said. 

Fans at the home opener will receive a t-shirt with caricatures of Brown, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric on it. 


The team also is launching the PhilaFanGram camera system that fans can use to take photos with a specially-designed Sixers-themed filter. 

Back-to-backs for Embiid?
Embiid is awaiting word from the medical staff to hear if he will be cleared for back-to-back games. Following Friday's game against the Celtics, the Sixers travel to Toronto the play the Raptors on Saturday. 

"Yesterday I played and my body feels great today," Embiid said. "My knee feels amazing. I feel like if I had to play today, I feel like I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready."

Embiid was held out of consecutive games last season.