Regret and devotion: Can Josh Jackson the person prove himself?
An NBA Draft that seemed so unpredictable went completely according to script through the first five picks.
Shockingly, no one was able to trade up (following the Philadelphia-Boston pre-draft trade) to mess it up for any of the top five. Best of all, the Suns got the perfect player to fit their needs.
Now the big question is, did the Suns get the right person?
Josh Jackson didn’t just get into a standard altercation.
Vandalism and threatening to harm a woman will be a stain on Jackson’s character for most of his life. It has to scare you Jackson’s conscience didn’t kick in to let him know this wasn’t a good idea. What did he learn? If Jackson internalizes the event and accepts he could throw his whole life away if he pulls something like that again, the Suns might have something special.
Right now, the three players drafted before Jackson are all better than Jackson.
A few players drafted after Jackson are more developed as well. Jackson is the best prospect in the draft. If he commits himself to the team more than Scottsdale, the Suns might have drafted Kawhi Leonard. The San Diego State version of Leonard is exactly like the Kansas version of Jackson except for two differences. Leonard had no character questions and Jackson was more athletically (not offensively) explosive.
Leonard worked himself into a top five player in the league. Every summer and all summer, Leonard works on adding more to his game.
He became on offensive force only because he refused to do anything but work at it. Leonard was and is extremely coachable. He was pushed by a legendary player in Tim Duncan to accept his role as a franchise player even though Duncan was still on the team. Leonard earned everything.
There’s no way of knowing if Jackson will take his craft as seriously as Leonard. That’s why Jackson is a prospect, but the tools are there. He is the perfect pick for the Suns. He can walk right into a role as defensive stopper. He’ll struggle at first with the physicality of the NBA as he grows into his body.
More importantly, he embraces defense. The first thing he said to ESPN after being drafted was, “I bring defensive versatility.” How refreshing! An NBA rookie that wants to talk defense first on a team that stops no one on the wing and desperately needs anyone to embrace defense is the exact puzzle piece this team needs.
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough did his job. He took the best prospect in the draft.
Now it’s up to Jackson to understand two things for him to do his job: expressing true regret and remorse, and total devotion to the game.
If Jackson settles, he’s simply a defensive player who will have a nice NBA career. If Jackson truly understands how badly he embarrassed himself and decides to follow the lead of Earl Watson, Jackson has the tools to be the second best draft pick of McDonough’s tenure.