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NBA Draft Prospect Review: GG Jackson

Ryan Hinske

Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

As March approaches, we brace ourselves to watch the most exciting performances by

the most exciting players in the sport of basketball. An incredible run in March Madness can

propel players to the top of the NBA Draft the following summer. Excited? Well, unfortunately,

you won’t be watching projected lottery pick Gregory “GG” Jackson dominate with his explosive

scoring in this year’s tournament. The former UNC commit decided to stay in his hometown of

Columbia, South Carolina for his college career, playing for the SEC’s University of South

Carolina. Even with the greatest men’s basketball player the school has ever seen, the

Gamecocks are last in the SEC standings and have no hope for an NCAA Tournament

appearance. All the more reason to talk about this scoring phenom before March rather than

during March.

GG is a 6'9", 210 pound forward who is the youngest player in the 2023 NBA Draft class,

turning 18 in December 2022. You heard that right. I am a freshman like GG, but he is more than a year younger than me. How is this, you ask? Because he was born in 2004, Jackson

turns 19 in the calendar year 2023. Therefore, he could reclassify to the class of 2022 and get to

the NCAA as young as possible.

GG is generally described as an on-ball scorer with insane offensive upside that plays

like a guard despite his lengthy frame, taking his man off the dribble and creating space with his

handle, but lacking a general understanding of the game and a consistent shot selection. In fact,

he is so ball-dominant that he is 35th in percentage of shots taken in all of D1 basketball (31.5%

of all UofSC shots are Jackson’s), something an SEC player rarely achieves.

My notes when watching GG are much more complicated. Let’s start with the criticisms

(please keep in mind that I consider these “criticisms” to be areas of GG’s game that he needs

to work on rather than weaknesses; he is only 18 and has a decade of development ahead of


He is very streaky, and he tries to shoot his way out of it. He is a strong offensive rebounder who can find space among the trees, but he doesn’t have good box-out awareness

when rebounding defensively. This carries over to offense when he often drives into double

teams. He just needs to develop the ability to be aware of both the basketball and the players

around him at the same time. He is sometimes knocked off balance when driving and can be

unsure at times when decision-making in the paint. This pairs with his lack of verticality when

finishing layups at the basket. He is good at avoiding contact at the rim, but considering his

athleticism, he doesn’t go up as strong as desired, which may be a problem when facing lengthy

NBA defenders such as Evan Mobley and Jaren Jackson Jr. This may also explain his lack of

free throw opportunities considering his usage.

In terms of his jumpshot, GG needs to top off his release point. I feel like he’s capable of

developing a jumper that's harder to defend than the one he currently utilizes. He does

have a good arch on his shot and understands his hot zones. He has very underwhelming

playmaking ability and off-ball understanding, but he has a great repertoire of cutting angles. I

just wish he would have more off-ball possessions so that he could develop his cutting and extra

passing to an NBA level.

Defensively, he is a solid shot blocker who can keep his body out of the way and still

deflect shots. He can get in passing lanes as well and is hungry for fast breaks. He has great

hands and reaction time, especially in the post. However, his off-ball defense leaves a lot to be

desired, as he loses his opponent often when seeking steals and rebounds.

His greatest skills are his shot creation and putback ability, something that reminds NBA

scouts of Josh Smith. When I first saw this comparison, I quickly grew a fascination with the

similarities between the two, and it helped me form scenarios for Jackson’s future NBA career.

Smith was drafted 17th in the 2004 NBA draft to an underachieving Atlanta Hawks team

that never got past the second round of the playoffs during his decade in Atlanta. The Georgia

native was immediately 2nd team all-rookie. He had some good years with the Hawks, shooting

45% and averaging 15.3 PPG. He was explosive on offense and could hold his own on defense,

averaging 2 blocks during his stint with the Hawks. Then, he went to Houston. That Rockets

team finished 1st in the Southwest Division with 56 wins, but in 78 games with Houston, he

averaged only 23 minutes per game and fought for minutes by being a "chucker"; These kinds

of players you don't want on your team because they settle for bad looks as they try to shoot

their way to more minutes. He shot a rough 31.2% from 3 on 3.5 attempts per game, so

Houston cut him loose. He was only 29; he should've been rounding out his prime, but he

proved that he didn't have a place on a good team, and that a decade with plenty of touches

with a bad team did not prepare him for a run at a championship.

Source: Yahoo! Sports

Although I don’t imagine scouts referencing Smith’s downfall when comparing him to

GG, I fear that Jackson may have this career outlook if he is drafted to a bad team. If he is on a

similar team in the NBA to South Carolina in the SEC that demands more on-ball pressure, he

may not develop the off-ball and playmaking skills that he could develop on a mid- to high-level

NBA team over the course of many years. I do not see Jackson’s ceiling being the leading

scorer on a championship squad, but I can absolutely see him being an ultimate safety blanket

for a high-level team who can get a bucket and take over with his athleticism. I just think he

needs the right situation, and that’s why I don’t see an NBA team taking him in the lottery. I have

him being selected anywhere between 14th and 20th, and hopefully, whoever drafts him takes

their time developing championship-level skills that bring Jackson glory.

To learn more about GG Jackson, the rest of the 2023 draft class and the future of the

NBA, tune in to NBA Tomorrow on Radio DePaul Sports every Tuesday at 12:00 PM


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