UNC in the NBA: Justin Jackson showing improvement for Kings

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: Justin Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: Justin Jackson /

Justin Jackson has come on strong for the Sacramento Kings in March

While the Sacramento Kings are not going to the NBA Playoffs this season, these final two weeks of the season are a big chance for younger players on the roster to impress.

The Kings drafted De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Harry Giles in the 2017 NBA Draft, hoping they could emerge as the core for the future. Fox is having a solid season but the other three haven’t panned out just yet.

But not all hope is lost, especially for Jackson.

After he was acquired on a draft day trade from the Portland Trailblazers, Jackson started off slow and even had a stint in the G-League for the Kings. It’s been a rough rookie season for the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference’s Player of the Years.

Recently, Jackson has started to play better and that’s good news for the future of the Kings.

Jackson is having the best month of his short NBA career this March. The small forward is seeing an uptick in minutes this month and has had games of 14, 15, 15, and 20 points in March.

It’s not the point totals where the big improvement has come but instead in his three-point shooting.

In his junior year at UNC, Jackson’s three-point shooting percentage saw an increase from his sophomore season. He entered the NBA with the thought of being a threat from the outside.

So far in March, Jackson is shooting 17-of-45 from the three-point line including  making 7 of his last 14 attempts. He went 4-of-4 in a win over the Atlanta Hawks last week, scoring a career-high 20 points.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe detailed that along with noting Jackson’s patented floater:

"“It’s easy to forget about Justin Jackson… But over the past two months, he has emerged as worth watching, and that alone is a win for the Kings. He’s 17-of-45 from deep in March, keeping alive the possibility that he might grow into an average 3-point shooter. He moves well on defense, and tries hard.He’s also got a nifty floater — a key weapon for guys who can’t power through behemoths at the rim.”"

The Kings have just six games left on the season, including a game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

These final games of the year could help Jackson’s confidence as he heads into offseason workouts, training camp and then preseason next year.

Next: Reggie Bullock is finding his way with the Pistons

For more on Jackson and other former Tar Heels in the NBA, please check back with Keeping It Heel.