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ESPN suggests Suns wing Josh Jackson keeps it simple in year two

Phoenix Suns guard Josh Jackson (20) goes up for a dunk against the Houston Rockets in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 30, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/George Bridges)

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz broke down Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson’s transition from college to the pros in his piece and had some suggestions for how he could improve in year two.

The article touched on multiple sophomores, but had some very interesting tidbits about the former No. 4 overall pick.

His main analysis on Jackson was for the second-year wing to keep it simple.

While his hitchy jumper is clearly his swing skill, it’s key for Jackson to keep things simple, operating as more of an energy athlete than he did as a rookie. Cuts made up only 5.8 percent of his offense last season, almost a 10 percent drop from his Kansas days. Jackson’s main intrigue for now is his athleticism, energy and defense, and when he strays away from that he gets himself in trouble. Any pick-and-roll dimes or pull-up jumpers should be seen as a bonus at this stage of his development, with his core value coming from transition run outs, straight-line drives, cuts, put-backs and wide-open spot-ups.

Since his first game, Jackson has taken steps to becoming the complete offensive player that he projected to become during his time at Kansas. Shot selection will continue to play a big part in his development headed into his sophomore season.

Early in his rookie year, Jackson struggled to find his offense within the confines of the Suns’ fast-paced offense. Phoenix ranked second in pace last season.

As the year moved along and his playing time grew, Jackson increased his field goal percentage and playmaking output considerably. For reference, Jackson averaged 0.8 assists per game over the course of his first 10 games. In his final 10 games of the season, Jackson averaged 3.1 assists per contest.

The same holds true for his scoring. Jackson put up 10.4 points on 40.4 percent shooting in his first 10 games. In his final 10 games, Jackson averaged 22.6 points on 43.9 percent from the field.

Phoenix spent the summer acquiring new talent to build around their young core of which Jackson is a featured piece. By adding more players to the equation, Jackson’s offensive workload should decrease as the team spreads out shots. Coming off the ball could help the 6-foot-8 forward to get back to the off-ball cuts and energy plays Schmitz referenced.

Only time will tell how Jackson adjusts in his sophomore season, but the team’s overall development may aid him in becoming a more efficient scorer.

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