Throughout the offseason, Pick and Popovich will rank the top 50 players in the NBA. To be clear, these are 50 best players for the 2016-17 season, regardless of team situation, past performance or future potential. If you’re trying to win a championship in 2016-17, these are the 50 players you’d want most.
Why He’s Great: Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to the Reggie Jackson-Andre Drummond pick-and-roll. It’s a play you’re going to be seeing a lot more frequently over the next few years.
Reggie Jackson used more possessions than any other player in basketball as a pick-and-roll ball-handler last season, but still managed to finish in the 77th percentile for points per possession on those pick-and-rolls. Drummond made 62.3% of his field goals as the roll-man last year largely because of Jackson’s precise passing. The pair is absolutely devastating together offensively and will only improve with the shooting around them.
But that’s not Jackson’s only trick. He’s an absolutely amazing finisher. Ready for an incredible stat? He’s made over 60% of his shots from within three feet of the basket for his career. That’s goddamn incredible. There are centers that don’t do that. There might be MonStars who don’t do that. He’s the best finishing point guard in basketball and it might not be close.
Why He’s Below No. 45 (Jabari Parker): Jackson’s three-point shooting is improving, but it still has a long way to go. So does Parker’s, but Jabari just offers more auxiliary value as a 6’8” forward. Neither are good defenders but a bad defender at 6’8” is going to cause more interference than a small point guard. And plus, Parker can score on his own. Jackson needs a good screen and spacing around him. He’s only efficient close to the basket. Parker’s range extends further out.
To take it a step further, Jackson has very little value without the ball in his hands. He’s not Russell Westbrook, he’s not going to barrel towards the basket and steal two or three offensive rebounds every game. He’s not going to create space for other creators on his team (and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could actually use some more space). When he doesn’t have the ball, he’s just kind of standing around waiting it.
And as much as he deserved to be a starter, he did force his way off of a contender in Oklahoma City. That never looks good. Detroit is going to get even better and may sniff 50 wins this year, but the odds of them reaching the heights Westbrook and Kevin Durant have aren’t great. It’s not huge, but he gets a slight demerit for that.