Noted NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson has reportedly been “promised” by either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Phoenix radio host John Gambadoro, who broke the Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Nash trades in the past decade. Gambadoro speculates that it’s the Lakers who have promised Jackson, but he isn’t “ruling out Philly” as a possibility.
Most mock drafts have projected Jackson to Philadelphia as the third overall pick behind Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. However, this report, if true, could throw a wrench into the draft projections that we’ve felt were rather uniform over the past couple months. Gambadoro doesn’t appear to know which team promised Jackson, but only that he has been promised. However, since Jackson has only worked out with the Lakers so far during these draft proceedings, it seems “likely” that the team is Los Angeles.
Since Gambadoro is Phoenix based, we can guess why he has this report. Silver Screen & Roll’s theory seems relatively accurate.
In draft parlance, a “promise” means that a team tells a player and his agent that they’ll select him in their draft slot if he’s available, so connecting the dots with the context of Gambadoro’s connections with the Suns, this likely means that’s why Phoenix thinks this is why Jackson hasn’t worked out for them.
Jackson is widely seen as a can’t-miss prospect. At 6’8, the 20-year-old has already shown exceptional defensive skills and a refined offensive game, although his jump shot has held him back. However, even if his jump shot doesn’t improve, the rest of his game is developed enough that he should at least be a solid defender who can make a few things happen offensively as well.
Here’s why the Lakers would take Jackson over Ball.
Los Angeles has two point guards on the roster, D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson. Both can play off the ball, and you could argue both should be used more in that role than as a primary ball handler, but perhaps the Lakers feel differently and still like Russell leading the offense in a primary role.
There are other reasons to distrust Ball. The popular, if exaggerated, detractor is his outspoken father. A more likely one is that Ball was reportedly out of shape at his workout with the team and might struggle to create shots at the next level.
Jackson, despite his flawed jump shot, can fit into any team that Los Angeles builds. That’s the upside of versatile wings in today’s NBA — you can never have enough of them. It doesn’t matter that the Lakers drafted Brandon Ingram with the No. 2 pick last year, because if they buy in on Jackson’s defensive abilities, there’s always room for him to find playing time.
However, this report could just be smoke from Phoenix.
We’ve been saying for months that Ball ends up in Los Angeles. He wants to be there, and the Lakers haven’t given any indication that they aren’t interested. In fact, general manager Magic Johnson defended Lonzo Ball, saying (rightly) that his dad’s outspokenness shouldn’t affect his draft stock. Ball would fit fine as a true point guard, allowing Clarkson and Russell to play off ball even more.
If Phoenix is hoping Josh Jackson will drop, perhaps they’re trying to convince the 76ers (one spot ahead of them) that Jackson won’t be available. It’s a small gesture in the grand scheme, but general managers are constantly playing these tiny games hoping to get a leg up.
The other question is that of the promise. No one has said the Celtics are seriously considering anyone but Markelle Fultz, which makes sense. After that pick, the Lakers could take anyone they want — there’s no need to promise Jackson they’ll pick him. This, in large part, is why you usually don’t hear about prospects being promised this early in the draft.
What are the odds this is true?
I’m going to say there are 5/10 odds that this is true, but 4/10 is the scenario that the 76ers are actually the team that has promised Jackson, while there’s just a 1/10 chance that the Lakers did it.
Los Angeles may end up taking Jackson, but committing to him still more than a week and a half away from the draft doesn’t make much sense — especially when they have no need to commit to him at all.