Justin Jackson begins his third season with limited expectations for the Mavericks. He’s an anticipated role player that was recently picked up through the 2020 – 21 season per Tim Cato. The former North Carolina standout could find himself in the starting lineup but to maintain the position he must excel in a new area.

Shooting ability is a major piece to Justin Jackson’s NBA journey.  A career three-point percentage of 33.5% speaks to his accuracy. Last season in 29 games (11 starts) with the Mavericks Jackson averaged 18.3 minutes and a career-high 37.2% from three. The previous 52 games with the Kings were equally consistent as he shot 35% from long range. These numbers suggest the Mavs have a legit three-point threat in Jackson.

Per Basketball-Reference, the majority of Justin’s minutes have been logged at small forward. Couple this with the Mavericks back-court depth and it’s clear the makings of a position-less basketball team are underway. Position flexibility will be a staple of the Mavericks going forward. Last season three of Jackson’s top five scoring games were

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Justin Jackson in action versus the Portland Trailblazers.

with the Mavericks. Although difficult to pinpoint this suggests he’s comfortable in Dallas. The Mavs won’t depend on his offensive production but it would be welcomed.

Justin’s contract is worth 3.2 million this year and 5 million next year. His deal could be a steal for the club if he’s able to continue his ascending course. Jackson’s untapped potential makes outperforming this deal a possibility but naturally, it will take increased production. While with the Kings Jackson’s minutes decreased in his second season which prompted his trade to Dallas for Harrison Barnes.

The Houston, Texas native has shown flashes of brilliance to justify his re-signing. Typically, Jackson’s role is described as three & D but projections have varied. It’s been suggested he could exceed the aforementioned role and become a starter. Rick Carlisle’s style is based on the trust of role fulfillment. Once he delegates those perimeters the burden to perform shifts to the players. If they can’t deliver they won’t play. Its a proven strategy of the future Hall of Fame coach.

Last season (4/1/2019) against the Philadelphia 76ers Justin had everyone’s attention by recording his highest point total as a Maverick. He poured in 24 points, grabbed six rebounds and added three assists.

This was an outstanding game yet. The Mavericks can’t expect this level of production night in and night out. The video and stats confirm Justin’s offensive game is predicated on movement without the basketball, attacking the rim and knocking down standstill threes.

Last season only 5% (22 of 485) of his attempted field goals were from mid-range (16 ft to 3-pt).  While three-pointers made up 51% of his total attempts (245 of 485).  To date, these figures perfectly describe Jackson’s role as a three-point shooter and slasher but the defense has been a liability.

To be impactful Justin must stand out on the defensive end of the floor. His addition adds more consistency to the Mavericks three-point arsenal but this team needs more.

Rookie of The Year Luka Doncic and well-rested star Kristaps Porzingis have always been able to produce points so decreasing their field goal attempts is nonsensical. Jackson has to become a better perimeter defender to see significant playing time. In 29 games with the Mavericks Jackson played just 17% of his minutes at power forward. His slender 6’8″ frame makes it tough to match-up against stronger power forwards limiting his versatility. If he can disrupt the opposing back-court with his length the narrative surrounding his role will change.

Jackson’s 6’11” wingspan is ideal for interrupting passing lanes and could help trigger an increase in playing time. The former Sacramento King has a dismal career average of 0.4 steals per game. If he is to fulfill his role these metrics have to increase.

Influencing the game defensively is the surest way to an elevated role with the Mavs. Justin’s upward trend has been impressive but questions remain surrounding his consistency. The opportunities before him are foreign yet his impact could be considerable. Jackson can take solace in his re-signing but to enhance his role a more tangible defensive impact is necessary.

The Mavs youthful roster will experience growing pains but their talent level is undeniable. Justin’s development and hopeful climb up the depth chart is directly related to his defensive consistency. To be a part of the Mavericks bright future a renewed defensive focus could prove fruitful for him and the club.

Photo: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Stats:  www.basketball-reference.com
YouTube: FreeDawkins
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