Point guard Demetrius Jackson was recalled to the Celtics prior to Tuesday’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors. Does NBA playing time lie in his path?
When the Boston Celtics added point guard Demetrius Jackson to their already crowded lot of guards with the 45th pick of last June’s draft, many expected it to be a lengthy road to NBA playing time for the Notre Dame product. Those who figured this were not mistaken.
Despite being inked to a four-year, $5.5 million deal by the Celtics brass, Jackson has seen playing time nearly impossible to come by while buried beneath point guards Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Gerald Green on the roster. However, Jackson has received the opportunity to showcase his talents in the D-League as of late, and has not disappointed. In 15 appearances with the Maine Red Claws in 2016-17, Jackson has posted 18.7 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per outing while garnering an offensive rating of 107.8. His shooting percentage of 50 percent is impressive given his average of 14.4 shots per game, emphasizing a tremendous shot selection.
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From beyond the arc, Jackson is converting at a 36.2 percent clip on 4.6 three-point attempts per night, a respectable figure consistent with his career 38.1 percent three-point accuracy at the collegiate level. This figure has led to Jackson compiling a true shooting percentage of 59 percent, a remarkable figure for someone charged with creating his own shot off of the dribble to facilitate the majority of his offensive looks. Jackson has also hit at a solid 80 percent rate from the free throw line while garnering 3.3 attempts per game, and an increased presence on the defensive side of the ball has led to 1.3 steals per performance. Jackson’s ability to create for his teammates has been notable as well. He has posted an exceptional assist percentage of 26.5 percent, a figure that rises to 27.9 percent in games away from Portland. This figure displays Jackson’s talent as a true point guard, one capable of generating offensive firepower for his teammates on the basis of his own penetration.
Despite his substantial assist percentage, one troubling figure for Jackson has been his turnover rate. Jackson is coughing up the rock on nearly three occasions per game, and although he nearly posts two assists per every turnover, this is a trend that Jackson will need to buck if he wishes to record NBA minutes at some point in the near future.
Jackson has turned in some astounding performances this season with the Red Claws, however, displaying his potential to impact the Boston ballclub. He posted 30 points on New Year’s Eve against the Windy City Bulls and 10 assists on November 15 against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. On December 17 in a defeat at the hand of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Jackson exploded for 23 points on 5-9 three-point shooting to accompany his six dimes. Against Raptors 905 on November 26, Jackson recorded a plus-minus of +19, leading the Red Claws to a victory with a near-triple-double of 19 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
Although Jackson has impressed on multiple occasions with Maine, the fact of the matter is that it would take a significant injury to one of the three aforementioned Celtics point guards to create room for him in head coach Brad Stevens’ rotation. Jackson was promoted to the Boston roster ahead of Tuesday night’s tilt against the Toronto Raptors due to Avery Bradley‘s achilles injury and an ankle injury to James Young. However, he did not see any playing time in the game.
While Jackson might not have any pressing value to the Celtics as of now, he does have merit on the trade market. Signed to a long-term, team-friendly deal, Jackson could command interest for a team searching for a reserve point guard. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is unlikely to relinquish Jackson to a team such as the Cavaliers in exchange for a future draft pick, however, he could package Jackson and a future selection in order to acquire a reserve big man with rebounding prowess, something Boston desperately covets.