Detroit Pistons: The revival of Josh Jackson

Dec 23, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Josh Jackson (20) shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell (0) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Josh Jackson (20) shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell (0) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit’s lone native-born player Josh Jackson looks rejuvenated in just the first three games of the season for the Detroit Pistons.

For over half of his young life, Josh Jackson called the city of Detroit home. After a few hiccups and relocations, homecoming for the 23-year-old has officially commenced. This season in just three regular season appearances with the Detroit Pistons, Jackson has become a vital piece off Dwane Casey’s bench.

Despite a rough start to his NBA career, in his first career start against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Jackson poured in 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting. Here’s highlights of his impressive outing:

He’s looked to score early and often, aggressively attacking the rim and becoming a true spark plug. On opening night on the road against the Timberwolves, Jackson added 19 points in 29 minutes, shooting a modest 3-of-7 from deep.

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He considers himself a “jack of all trades”, noting he’s not outstanding in one particular area, but solid in all areas.

Jackson, who played his first two years of high school basketball at Consortium College Prep School in Detroit, is a former 2017 fourth overall pick by the Phoenix Suns. The 6’7″ forward was named a McDonald’s All American, attended Kansas and was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2016.

In his first year as a pro with the Suns, Jackson averaged over 13 points per game and scored as many as 36 in a game, earning him NBA All-Rookie Second Team. He was looked as a key component to pair with star guard Devin Booker towards the future of the franchise.

The Suns drafted the one time Jayhawk ahead of De’Aaron Fox and Donovan Mitchell. But after a promising rookie campaign, his emotions beamed for the entire NBA to witness. Off the court, he continued to struggle with an arrest in Miami, a missed autograph session, several fines and inappropriate comments.

Couple that with a coaching carousel in Phoenix, the young forward was then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies to make room for guard Ricky Rubio.

After being acquired, the Grizzlies shipped Jackson down to their G-league affiliate where he regained his legs, averaging over 20 points, 4 assists, a block and a steal per game. The Grizzlies developed a program for Jackson, where he was required to hit a series of benchmarks and was mentored by Tony Allen.

Jackson was optimistic about his tenure with the Hustle, as he was just grateful for the opportunity.

"“The last time I had fun like this was maybe AAU,” Jackson told The Undefeated during the G-League Showcase. “Don’t feel bad for me. It’s an opportunity. I am just thankful I get to play basketball.”"

He was then called up after 26 games, where he averaged nine points in 22 games off the bench for Memphis.

According to The Undefeated, Jackson admitted that once he first stepped foot in the NBA, the game went into hyper speed. He said his lack of control, erratic turnovers and style of play were reasons for the inconsistent play.

"“I know I am good enough to be playing up there,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t do anything to my confidence or mentality. … When it happens, it will happen. I am not really in a rush to be there. I know I am good enough to be there and I can help the team out.”"

On December 1, the Pistons signed Jackson in hopes to fill their bench with long, athletic caliber players. (Editor’ s note: We predicted this!)

Detroit has witnessed just that, as Jackson flashed his athleticism and improved shooting in the preseason and so far, has followed suit in the regular season as well. He’s a much improved shooter and has carried that over from Memphis, where in March he shot an impressive 38 percent from three.

While he may not continue to start, Jackson is a young promising player to add to a rotation filled with potential. He can guard multiple positions, is sneaky quick and loves to push the pace, all of which this young team is in dire need to do.

Despite a rocky 0-3 start to the season, the Pistons have been competitive and found themselves in winnable situations in the fourth quarter. Jackson looks and feels like he’s found himself back at home, and is committed to hitting his stride with this young core.

Undermanned, Detroit was down by 24 points with 7:43 left to go in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game. They used a resurgent 26-9 run, including some stifling defense and a step back three ball from Jackson, to cut the deficit to five.

"“We’re definitely not happy with how our three games have gone,” Jackson said. “We felt like we could’ve beaten every team we’ve played. We’re right there. But we’re learning. We’re still getting to know each other. As far as having our heads hanging low, I haven’t seen that from anybody. We know we’ve lost three tough games, but the fight is there. Everybody’s still coming to work every day, ready to fight.”"

Just 23, the former high school state champion is building confidence and providing a jolt of energy to a raw Pistons team. Back in his home town, the Motor City welcomes the rejuvenated and revived Jackson.

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