It seems like many Wizards fans have been impressed by the play of undrafted rookie Quenton Jackson, albeit in limited minutes. And so have I. However, I think we’re so desperate for things to look forward to that maybe we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
I’ve seen tweets about Jackson ranging from “sign him to a long-term deal already,” all the way to “he should have been our lottery pick instead of Johnny Davis.” And then there’s the contingent of fans who won’t say anything nice about him simply because that might mean admitting Tommy Sheppard did something semi-positive, which is a bridge too far for them.
Given our general proclivity for extremes as a fanbase, I wanted an outsider’s perspective on Jackson as a prospect and potential NBA contributor. On this week’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, I had NBA Draft savant Bryce Hendricks on. Hendricks, who hosts the Upside Swings podcast, is aware of more fringe prospects each year than anyone I know and was very familiar with Jackson’s game.
Hendricks was also pretty high on Johnny Davis during the predraft process so I thought it would make for a good conversation about what to realistically expect from each player. We also discussed who between Jackson, Jordan Goodwin, and Jordan Schakel should ultimately occupy the Wizards’ two-way spots this season. We even briefly touched on what to expect from Makur Maker, who was recently cut from the Wizards’ preseason roster.
Hendricks pointed to age, inconsistent shooting, and lack of strength as the main reasons why Jackson ultimately went undrafted last June. Jackson is already 24 years old, which is essentially 3.5 years older than Davis, his rookie counterpart. Those three years are typically crucial development years and likely what scared most teams away.
That doesn’t mean he can’t still be a productive player or that he doesn’t still have room to grow. It means the timeline is even more important for the organization to figure out how to best make use of his skillset, an area where they have not traditionally excelled. Part of the reason Hendricks cautioned Wizards fans not to get too excited tied directly back to his eventual fit. What role is Jackson best suited for vs. what role will the Wizards try to shoehorn him into?
Despite some concerns about how his lack of strength might hinder him, Hendricks was pretty high on Jackson’s defense overall. That could potentially win him some favor from Wes Unseld Jr. and provide his most likely pathway to early NBA minutes.
In Jackson’s three seasons at Texas A&M, his three-point percentages were 24.4, 41.1, and 34.6. His shot looked fluid to me in person in both NBA Summer League and the Wizards’ open practice. I like to think I have a pretty good feel for whose mechanics will allow them to shoot at a reasonable clip and I feel pretty good about Jackson’s thus far.
I think it would be hard to deny Jackson could provide the Wizards with a shot in the arm in terms of athleticism. Getting to see him in layup lines in Las Vegas and again at the open practice further reinforced his status as one of the best athletes on the team. In fact, I turned to my Bullets Forever colleague Osman Baig after one dunk and said, “He’s the best athlete on the team.” That was exactly one play before Daniel Gafford almost ripped the rim off. Either way, Jackson is up there - both literally and figuratively.
If you buy that he’s a high-30s three-point shooter, can be pesky on defense, and continue to utilize his athleticism in transition then the Wizards might actually have something here. Is that enough to beat out incumbents like Jordan Schakel and Jordan Goodwin? We’ll have to wait and see. I think the most likely outcome is the Wizards try to sign Jackson to a G League contract to buy themselves more time to assess his ability to help the organization long-term.