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Phoenix Suns rookie Josh Jackson always challenging himself

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson (20) drives on Oklahoma City Thunder guard Raymond Felton in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Thunder 114-100. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Josh Jackson, Suns rookie forward

Suns rookie Josh Jackson is always trying to learn and challenge himself, whether it be from an opponent he idolized growing up, a game from his father or some advice from his coaches.

“This has definitely been a learning process,” Jackson said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta Friday. “But it’s been one that I’ve had a lot of fun being a part of. You know I’m learning stuff every day, every game whether it’s bad habits or good habits.

“Just gotta learn from everything, learn from my mistakes and try not to make the same mistakes over and over again.”

While going through these moments, Jackson has faced superstar opponents including his childhood idol Vince Carter. Even though Jackson may not be going up against players the caliber of Carter or Paul George every night, he knows he is constantly being tested in the league.

“I’m really excited to play against every guy in the NBA to be honest,” Jackson said. “It’s the best league in the world and it’s got some of the best players in the world so I love a challenge.”

Basketball isn’t the only challenge he embraces, though. Jackson is constantly competing, even if it isn’t on the court.

“I actually do still play (Chess) and I have a travel set that I carry,” Jackson said. “It came from my dad. When I was in the second grade, I believe, every day I would come home from school and he would just be sitting there playing (against) himself. I finally just sat there and asked him a little bit about the game because I had no idea and he sat there and taught me how to play and just from there on I fell in love with it.”

There’s a chess quote that goes, “you should never take a step without a reason in mind.” This is something Jackson has struggled with on the court this season, as he frequently hasn’t slowed down to let everything develop.

“I think the best way to slow yourself down is just try to stop during the game and take a deep breath and think about the game a little bit more,” Jackson said. “Every time I’m out there on the floor I can see the defense in front and when we’re running our plays guys are setting screens.

“Sometimes I fell like I’m moving a little bit too fast, to where I’m not allowing the defense to make a mistake. I’m just moving at one pace so it become predictable.”

Jackson says his constant pace has been a talking point this season among his coaches, and over the past few games he has really implemented a change of pace which has worked successfully.

Over the last three games Jackson has averaged 14 points a game, significantly higher than his season average of 9.4.

In those recent games Jackson has had some of his best performances. In the Suns’ 114-100 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, Jackson got a double-double scoring 17 points and getting 10 rebounds.

“(The team) has been kind of up and down throughout the season,” Jackson said. “But it’s what you expect from a young team. Our biggest thing that we are trying to work on right now is just trying to be more consistent because we know how good we can be.

“We know how talented our guys are. We show flashes of being really, really, really good, but we just got to string some of those games together and just try to be really consistent.”

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