Isaiah Jackson’s similarities to this freshman player
When the Indiana Pacers drafted Isaiah Jackson in the 2021 NBA Draft, fans were curious to see what this talented Kentucky center could do in the NBA.
Kevin Pritchard traded former first-round pick Aaron Holiday to acquire the rights to draft pick Isaiah Jackson. Zach Pearson and I share our thoughts on the Indiana Pacers rookie.
Aaron had struggled to find his place in the rotation consistently, as TJ McConnell had taken his place in the second unit, so finding Aaron a new home might have been the best thing for him and the Indiana Pacers.
The next question Pacers fans were asking was, “Why did we just draft another great when we already (had at the time) Sabonis, Turner and Bitadze?”
It was a valid question, but the Indiana Pacers front office and coaching staff felt that Isaiah Jackson was capable of playing 4 or 5.
Rick Carlisle loved Jackson’s defense and how great he was at blocking jump shots and how he was a natural lob threat, something this Pacers team hasn’t had in a big man since Ian Mahinmi.
Jackson was a different kind of player this team needed to add, but it was clear he needed time to develop as a young prospect before he was thrown into the fire against the established NBA experience.
In his Summer League debut, fans were eager to see Jackson with Chris Duarte, the first time the Pacers had two first-round prospects since acquiring Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush in the same draft.
He didn’t disappoint and showed flashes of athleticism, defensive edge and also knocked down a couple threes. It was an impressive summer league for Jackson, but with the frontcourt loaded on the Pacers’ NBA roster, it was clear that finding a spot in the rotation would be a challenge.
In Game 5 of the season, Isaiah Jackson was inserted into the rotation to face the long and dynamic team of the Toronto Raptors. During this match, unfortunately, Isaiah Jackson suffered a frightening injury (hyperextended knee) that kept him out of the next twelve matches.
After returning from injury, Isaiah Jackson continued to get spotty minutes in the rotation as the team prioritized veterans ahead of him just weeks before the trade deadline.
The door opened for Isaiah Jackson in mid-January when the Indiana Pacers announced that Myles Turner had suffered a foot injury and would be out indefinitely as they reviewed the severity of the injury.
Isaiah Jackson took advantage of this opportunity and began getting regular runs with the team on their 5 game road trip out west.
He averaged 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 15.4 minutes per game.
After Domantas Sabonis returned to the lineup after being injured on the road trip (a sprained ankle against the Lakers), Isaiah Jackson did not play against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He played the next game against the Mavericks, but the DNP-Coach’s decision against Oklahoma City was confusing.
Although Sabonis was healthy, he went into health and safety protocols after the Mavericks game, and it once again opened up a huge slate for Isaiah Jackson to get important minutes with the team.
Jackson received the first start of his young NBA career against the Los Angeles Clippers where he posted a career-high 26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 0 fouls in 29 minutes of play.
Fans were thrilled to see the human pogo stick throw multiple lobs, knock down a three with great form, and stay out of trouble, which is something he’s struggled with all season. On top of that, his control and touch around the basket is fantastic.
That feel-good moment lasted two days because in the Indiana Pacers’ next game against the Orlando Magic, Jackson injured his ankle just 22 seconds into the game and would miss the rest of that game, then 6 of the next. 7 games.
As the 2021-22 season draws to a close, Isaiah Jackson has shown great potential as he fought through adversity to see the court in his freshman year of NBA basketball. Does his game resemble that of Myles Turner?
Isaiah Jackson’s potential has everyone excited for this upcoming season, a new roster and a path that allows him more minutes. His verticality is off the charts and the offensive outing gives the Indiana Pacers a new dimension to play with. A real lob threat.
Although he hasn’t been able to show it as well at the NBA level, Isaiah Jackson has a solid shooting frame. When he was with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, he went 5/5 from behind the arc to score 25 points in a 132-104 win over the Westchester Knicks.
In the last 10 games he played before entering concussion protocols, Jackson shot just 6 threes overall in those games, shooting just one against the Hawks.
His shooting is something that I think will grow as he continues to work with NBA coaches and teammates. His rookie season can be summed up as pick and explode instead of pick and roll in whatever action he finds himself in, which is no problem for the rookie.
So how does he look like Myles Turner? The defense is the one that makes the most comparison.
In his last 10-game sample, Jackson averaged 2.6 blocks per game. He even had a career-high 5 blocks against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Before Myles Turner left with his own injury, he was averaging 2.8 blocks per game.
Darius Bazley nearly faked Jackson on the pump, but he’s able to keep both feet and block his shot twice. His only negative throughout his rookie season was falling in love with these fakes and being overly nervous, which resulted in fouls.
It was a great moment of growth and balance for Jackson to recover. Do you look familiar at all?
While Turner’s recovery is vastly different in this situation, the ability to time their attempts is fascinating and proves just how frightening this separation can be.
Jackson thrives more with his second jump and athleticism, and Myles thrives with his timing and accuracy – knowing when to attack the ball.
Another stat shared between the two great men? Bounces.
Myles Turner in 42 games played this season on average 7.1 rebounds a match. isaiah jackson in his last 10 starts, the average was exactly the same, 7.1 rebounds a match.
Rebounding is stretched between more positions as the NBA game moves to more three-point attempts, but offensive rebounds are still very important. Jackson beat Turner here (role variations are a factor) scoring 2.7 per game to Turner’s 1.5.
Looking at their rookie seasons, the main difference is simply that Myles Turner played more games. Turner played in 60 games and started 30 of them during his rookie season.
Isaiah Jackson has played a lot less this season because Myles is the starter and the Pacers have 1,000 centers on their team. Jackson has only played 31 games overall, starting only 12 times. There are still seven games left this season.
Myles Turner rookie stat line: 10.3 points per game on 8.8 attempts, 5.5 bounces, 0.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and shot 49.8% from the field while shooting 21.4% on three on 0.2 attempts. He averaged 22 minutes per game.
Isaiah Jackson’s rookie stat line: 7.7 points per game on 5.4 attempts, 4.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1.4 blocks and shooting 55.9% terrain during filming 30.8% from three 0.4 attempts. 13.6 minutes played.
However, Isaiah was much different towards the end of the season than the chunks of playing time he had to start the year. In fact, his numbers are much better in his last 10 game sample than in his entire year.
Jackson’s last 10 games: 11.6 points per game, 7.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 57.7% from the field on 7.8 attempts. He averages 21 minutes per game.
The potential remains strong for Isaiah. As the Pacers prepare to end the 2021-22 NBA season, a busy offseason is shaping up for the front office. Their new core of young players and draft potential is just that, potential.
The draft will be key, and draft positioning will be equally important for the Indiana Pacers as they continue to shape a new era of Indiana basketball.