NEW YORK — Jaren Jackson Jr. has a breathtakingly high ceiling, but his focus on the smaller details of the game is what makes him a tantalizing prospect. After posting a career-high 36 points — including seven straight in 33 seconds to send the game to overtime — in a win over Brooklyn on Nov. 30, Jackson turned his focus to the defensive lessons he’s learned from Marc Gasol.
“You have to continue to do the little things, especially down the stretch,” Jackson said. “Continue to do the little things because even if your shot is falling, even if you are playing well, the little things are what is going to make the difference.”
It’s rare to hear a player hone in on defense after such an offensive explosion, but Jackson is a rare prospect. He is on pace to join Joel Embiid as only the second rookie ever to average 15 points, two blocks, one steal and one three-pointer made per 36 minutes.
Despite his ability to get buckets (which we’ll get to in a bit), discussions about Jackson’s potential starts on the defensive end. His rare combination of length (7’5 wingspan) and athleticism allows him to deftly help and recover in ball screen actions, as he does here.