Andre Jackson: 2023 NBA Draft Scouting Report
Fresh off a national title at Connecticut, Jackson's leadership and intangibles are a big reason for their success. Are they enough to buoy him to NBA impact?
Connecticut’s Andre Jackson seems like my type of player. He functioned, in essence, as a big lead guard for the Huskies. He’s athletic, he has terrific feel as a passer, he defends multiple positions (and can play the de facto 1, which gives him real positional size).
Jackson is also a winner. He just cut down the nets with the Connecticut Huskies and has been labeled by their coaching staff as the ultimate winner. Head coach Dan Hurley called him the “most selfless, best leader, best captain you’ll ever come across.” A freshman on the team, Alex Karaban, called him his “favorite teammate [Karaban has] ever played with.”
Such comments typically cause me to gush with overwhelming optimism. Jackson is, to a certain extent, an intangible guy whose impact cannot be measured in the box score or even in minutes played. As a result, I feel confident in saying one thing: Andre will find a way to maximize his tools.
My evaluation of those tools might not be as glowing as the intel about Jackson. The term scalability is an important one in the NBA. There are only 30 teams, meaning only 30 number-one options, 30 starting centers, the list goes on and on. If a player isn’t going to be one of those guys, he needs to fit well next to them, bring out their best traits, and provide a strategic and tactical advantage for their team.
Jackson shows flashes of being that guy — even without the biggest trait that I look for in role players: spot-up shooting ability.
Jackson is one of the rare guys who is at an intersection of great feel and poor scalability off-ball. Positive impact on a basketball court isn’t binary and doesn’t always neatly fit into boxes on an evaluation checklist. It’s not as simple as saying “he’s not a go-to option and doesn’t shoot, so his feel doesn’t have real value.” In reality, Jackson’s feel pops while not having plays run for him or being a volume creator. That could mean a little more for Jackson to thrive as a role player without the jump shot.
It also might not, and there were several games this year where his lack of shooting was exposed in a way that I believe actively harmed the flow of a half-court offense.
On first glance, Jackson is a pretty unique player. He’s got a two-to-one asisst to turnover ratio, is a decent finisher at the rim, and a great athlete in transition. Yet Jackson’s overall usage is incredibly low, making it somewhat hard to believe that his combinations of size, passing skill, and athleticism will pop in a more central role.
According to Barttorvik data, only two players over the last 15 years have posted a usage rate below 17% and a turnover rate over 24% while still getting drafted in the first round: Kris Dunn and Davion Mitchell (who did it at Auburn far before his vast improvement took place at Baylor). Jackson is in dangerous territory of non-scorers, many of whom struggle to make it in the league without a developed jump shot — and without high usage in his past, it is hard to justify him suddenly getting a major leap into primary playmaker status.