Justin Jackson has been making the most of his opportunity to play significant minutes. Continue reading for an analysis of the Sacramento Kings’ rookie.
Sacramento Kings rookie forward Justin Jackson has been one of the less heralded rookies on the team this season. Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Aaron Fox, and Frank Mason have all gotten their fair share of the spotlight, and rightfully so. Bogdanovic has cemented himself as the best player on the team. He continues to play well beyond his years. De’Aaron Fox has been electric and is only getting better. Frank Mason has shown us he belongs in this league and can play at a high level. With all the promising rookie talent that the Kings have at the guard position, it can be easy to lose sight of how Jackson fits into the puzzle. Luckily for Jackson, he plays the small forward position, and there’s a significant shortage of small forwards on the roster.
Fight for Playing Time
Credit Jackson for being a consummate professional in what has been an interesting season. Despite him playing at a position of need, the former North Carolina Tar Heel has had difficulty cracking into Coach Joerger’s rotation. The Kings have assigned Jackson to the Reno Bighorns on numerous occasions this season. At times, it seemed like Jackson continuously shuffled between the Kings active game day roster and their G-league affiliate. Jackson however, has been able to maintain perspective and has thrived during his time in Reno. Jackson spoke of his approach in a direct quote per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee,
"“Never lose confidence in yourself, never stop working hard, never lose that work ethic even when you might not be playing, not playing much or whatever it is, just keep going. Don’t ever let anybody take your joy, take the enjoyment out of the game that you play because at the end of the day it’s a game that we love, we just happen to be getting paid for it. So just continue to work on yourself every day (and) don’t ever stop, no matter what the circumstances are.”"
Seizing the Opportunity
The Kings decision to change their approach this season and give the rookies more playing time has undoubtedly played into Jackson’s favor. Since earning more minutes, Jackson has shown promise, potential, and has become a reliable contributor off of the bench. Over the last three games, Jackson is averaging 10.7 points per game. He is also shooting 54.2% from the field, per ESPN.
Jackson has overcome a rough start to the season and carved out a nice role off the bench. He only stands to benefit from the increase in minutes going forward.