Why Andre Jackson Jr. would be the perfect fit for the Spurs in the 2023 NBA Draft

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Offense: Playmaking, Transition Wizardry & Off-Ball Guile

The former top-50 high school recruit has always been a tremendous basketball athlete, but in his junior season at the University of Connecticut, Jackson more readily weaponized his gifts to make plays for his team on offense, particularly on the fastbreak.

While there are run-and-jump, freak athletes who come into the league every year, very few among that ilk possess the open-court passing prowess Jackson regularly displays. His specialty is ripping and running off a rebound or turnover, often culminating in a great shot for his teammates.

Whether in half-court sets or in transition, he used his excellent vision to snap passes to shooters on the perimeter, deliver pinpoint lead passes to cutters, and pick out hit-ahead opportunities, all to the tune of 4.7 assists per game, which ranked fifth in the Big East Conference last season. This is made more impressive when you factor in him frequently sharing lead guard duties with Tristen Newton.

In fact, he only finished ninth (!!) in usage rate on his own team last year (among players with regular rotation minutes). And, of course, he's also capable of finishing the fastbreak himself.

Jackson simply knows how to make an impact with minimal touches on offense, which could be an invaluable trait on a Spurs squad that has plenty of young players who need those on-ball reps for their development.

The impressive connective passing when he momentarily has the ball is complemented by everything he is able to do without it. His devastating off-ball game contains clinical cuts from all over the floor, an eagerness to set savvy screens for others, and timely second-chance points created from offensive boards or saving loose ball. His motor never stops running, and he's constantly surveying the floor and gliding to the spot where his presence is most impactful.

The phrases "nose for the ball" and "right time, right place" certainly apply to Jackson. But they also imply a degree of luck while minimizing the concrete thoughts and actions springing from his basketball intuition. This elite level of court mapping and processing in a basketball athlete of his caliber is a rare commodity.

The elephant in the room when discussing Jackson's NBA potential is whether he'll ever develop into an adequate shooter to avoid defenses sagging off or straight up ignoring him in a halfcourt setting.

The mechanics and form are not fluid or textbook, with an inconsistent base that causes him to use too much arm to get the ball toward the rim. The results can frequently look disjointed, resembling a medieval trebuchet with his arm loading the ball almost to his shoulder before he launches. This is far from the ideal arm-to-elbow 90-degree angle the best knockdown shooters possess.

With that said, Jackson's career free-throw mark hovers around 70%. These flashes of smoother mechanics and clean makes offer a window for him develop in the shooting department enough to make defenses pay for leaving him open. After all, Spurs fans have seen many young players come through the program and improve as shooters, including Jeremy Sochan last season.

Similar to how the Spurs first built up other non-shooting prospects like Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Anderson, NBA teams have told Jackson how important adding a reliable corner three to his bag could be during the pre-draft process.

"A few teams said that they could plug me in right away, especially if I could knock down that corner three. A lot of teams are saying improve that corner three."

Andre Jackson Jr. via Zagsblog

If Jackson can retain the rhythm and form demonstrated on the handful of threes he splashed last season, he could be an extremently useful role player early on in his career. This is especially true when combined his pristine off-ball cutting and continued progress on his runner, which he got to with relative ease.

It is also worth noting that despite his flaws as a shooter and the ways defenses tried to cramp the court, UConn's offense was often markedly better with him on the floor because of his propensity to generate excellent looks for teammates. Jackson is an instant offensive lubricant, a player seemingly born from the same lab who brought you WD-40.

Paired with an incoming, uniquely skilled big and other young players with uncalcified roles on offense, Jackson can assume a clear role on the Spurs as a connective piece whose tide lifts all boats while serving as an anchor on the other end of the floor.