The NBA’s Developmental League is filled with young players not ready for the big leagues, players who simply aren’t NBA quality players and everything in between. Some players are there only for a few games, others spend whole careers there. Some, however, are outplaying the rest of the league.
That’s where we find Pierre Jackson. Jackson, a second round pick (No. 42 overall) by the Philadelphia 76ers (then traded to the New Orleans Pelicans) spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with the Idaho Stampede. Before leaving for Fenerbahçe Ülker of the Euroleague, Jackson put on quite the show in the D-League. He scored a D-League record 58 points on February 4th against Texas, and was named to the D-League All-Star squad.
In 31 total games with Idaho, the former Baylor Bear posted 29.1 points, 6.2 assists, and 1.9 steals.
Pretty good to land a job with a team that’s far away from competing, right? Apparently not. Jackson, despite playing great basketball, couldn’t land a spot on the Pelicans. To be fair, New Orleans did have a large capacity of guards that saw serious minutes in Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, and Brian Roberts.
All that being said, there’s no doubting that Pierre deserves a shot to prove himself in the NBA. At 5’10”, Jackson is basically limited to point guard, which means he’ll be limited to the bench assuming he stays in New Orleans. Jackson is a decent shooter from beyond the arc, but his size limits his chances to get the best shot. He showed in the D-League that he’s a solid offensive option, and a good passer as well at 6.2 assists per contest.
Jackson won’t have a problem adjusting to the NBA game, but where does he fit in New Orleans? Looking at the 2013-14 season, starting point guard Jrue Holiday saw 33.6 minutes per game, while backup guard Brian Roberts saw 23.2. Behind those two, New Orleans didn’t roll out too many other “true point guards,” so sneaking in behind Roberts is certainly a possibility for the 22-year-old Jackson.
What won’t be helping Jackson’s case is the fact that both Holiday and Roberts are both decent three-point shooters (.390 and .360, respectively) so Jackson’s deep shooting doesn’t give him much help in making the squad.
So, could a trade possibly be in the works? Several teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets, had interest in Jackson before the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline. While it’s unclear what the Pelicans are asking for for the rights to Jackson, it can’t be a whopping amount seeing as he has no NBA experience. But if New Orleans could acquire a rotation big man to make up for their weak center spot, moving Jackson might not be the worst idea. At the time of the original trade that brought Pierre to NOLA, he was considered a throw-in, so getting something productive out of Jackson would be a huge win.
Jackson’s services could be extremely valuable to any team in need of a fast paced athletic point guard. It shocked a lot of people when Jackson didn’t see any NBA time in 2013-14, so given his skill, it’s almost guaranteed that he makes the big leagues come this fall.
Shawn McFarland covers the New Orleans Pelicans for HoopsHabit.com