If you’re big and you can move quickly, you can get a lot done as an NBA defender. This is one reason why Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. is so exciting. Jackson has the height and reach of a center, and the defensive numbers to match. The Spartans became an elite shot-blocking team with him on the floor.
What makes Jackson special is extraordinary agility for his size and experience level. This makes him super useful as a pick-and-roll defender — swift enough to corral a ballhandler who’s lost his defender with a pick, then to recover onto his own man once his teammate recovers.
Jackson has a ton of development still ahead of him, but those physical abilities, combined with excellent timing and a genuinely useful outside shot, made him a highly productive freshman in his minutes at Michigan State, and made him a high lottery pick for Memphis.