2023 NBA Mock Draft: Spurs land franchise PG, tanking pays off for Pistons

Dec 9, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; City Reapers guard Ausar Thompson (0) shown during the game against
Dec 9, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; City Reapers guard Ausar Thompson (0) shown during the game against / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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9. South Carolina. . GG Jackson. 118. . . player

GG Jackson slid down lots of draft boards as the season went on, but despite some questionable defensive engagement, body language, and shot selection, I continue to have a difficult time seeing Jackson fall much further beyond this point in the draft. 6’10” shot creators with his ball-handling ability at his young age are incredibly difficult to come by, and I think there will come the point when a team feels obligated to gamble on such a high-upside prospect even if it means trading up for him.

There are times in draft evaluations when a player’s developmental situation matters almost just as much as their upside and/or production, and I think that is more applicable to Jackson than any other player in his class. To quickly illustrate how underwhelming South Carolina’s offensive firepower was, only one player on the team (Chico Carter) made over 35% of their three-point shots. Furthermore, of the five players that attempted the most field goals on the team, only two of them shot above 40% from the field. 

Jackson was very obviously the Gamecocks’ go-to guy to get a bucket, which is a tough ask for a 17 year old against SEC competition that knew the Gamecocks' game plan from the tip-off. That job likely becomes even more difficult when you can’t trust the large majority of your teammates to make a bucket even if they’re set up well. 

Would Jackson have looked like a better prospect had he been asked to fill an off-ball role within a more talented roster? I would argue probably so, but the flip side of that same coin would have meant that he got significantly fewer primary, on-ball reps. Taking on those reps, and perhaps putting himself outside of his comfort zone in the process, could do wonders for his long-term development even if it means appearing less polished in the short term.