Frank Jackson's first-round buzz
Former Duke guard Frank Jackson made a strong impression at the NBA Draft Combine last month, with a 42-inch vertical and a nice performance in the one scrimmage (13 points and four assists) in which he played. His vertical was second-highest at the combine, and he also was tops in completing the shuttle run.
Since then, he has not been able to work out for teams — he subsequently had surgery to address a stress fracture in his foot — but he has been continuing to draw interest from teams in the second half of the first round.
Jackson has been traveling to visit various teams with picks (or the potential to acquire picks) in the high teens and 20s, a source told Sporting News. Atlanta, with the No. 19 pick, had Jackson in for an interview, as did the Knicks, who are in the market to obtain picks later in the first round.
Also of note: Utah brought in Jackson, who went to high school at Lone Peak, situated between Salt Lake City and Provo. The Jazz have picks No. 24 and 30, and will be seeking guard depth.
NBA DRAFT 2017: Latest prospect rankings
Jackson is a combo guard capable of handling the point at times, but is also a very good shooter, making 39.2 percent of his 3-pointers at Duke. At the combine, he was asked which players he watches in order to improve.
“(Russell) Westbrook, obviously,” Jackson said. “Love to watch his game, his competitiveness, how he fights every single night. I love watching Chris Paul, too, a guy who gets after it, can lead a team and get the job done.”
Jackson had surgery on May 24 and is now out of his walking boot. His doctors, led by surgeon Dr. Erik Nilssen, have made his full docket of health information available to all 30 teams.
Jackson was told by his doctors that there was a possibility that he could be ready to play in time for Summer League, though if he lands in the first round, the team picking him might prefer to keep him focused on training camp.
Everything OK with OG Anunoby?
Another injured player worth keeping an eye on is Indiana wing OG Anunoby, a combo forward who is still recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in January. Teams have been monitoring Anunoby, even with the possibility that he might not play at all next season.
The Lakers have been hopeful that Anunoby would somehow last through the first round to their second pick, No. 28. Of all the things their young core of recent draftees lacks, a defensive edge tops the list, and that is Anunoby’s strength.
While there is some concern about whether he is more of a small forward or power forward, Anunoby shrugged that off, saying “Three and four are kind of the same thing now.”
But the Lakers will have to dodge plenty of interested teams should they decide that Anunoby is their guy. The Heat, with the 14th pick, have also shown interest, as have the Blazers at 15.
Luke Kennard could land in lottery
As deep as the upcoming draft is, it is heavy on bigs and very light on shooters. No one stands to benefit more from that than another Duke guard, Luke Kennard. Scouts see Kennard projecting favorably as an offensive player, one who shot 49.0 percent as a sophomore, including 43.8 percent from the 3-point line. He showed lights-out touch at his pro day at the beginning of June, and he also has the ability to handle the ball and run pick-and-rolls.
That will likely get him into the lottery. As far back as last month, there was talk of Detroit’s interest in Kennard, given their desperate need to add shooting. The Pistons, picking 12th, are also considering moving that pick. The Hornets, at No. 11, have interest in Kennard as well, and will give him a workout.
Other teams are jumping on the Kennard bandwagon. The Magic, Knicks and Mavericks will have Kennard in for workouts, too, though those teams have considered adding (or already have) picks later in the draft and could look at Kennard there. Orlando has No. 6 and 25, the Knicks have No. 8 (but have been active in searching for another pick) and Dallas has No. 9.
One scout, though, tossed some cold water on Kennard fever, saying that Kennard in the top 10 would be a stretch because he’s not particularly big (6-5.5 with a 6-5.25 wingspan) and figures to struggle defensively in the NBA.
“I understand that everyone wants shooters,” the scout told Sporting News. “No one questions that the kid can shoot. But I can’t see him becoming a good defender. You just hope that he develops into a neutral defender, that he does not hurt you. He might go in the lottery in this draft because of the way he can shoot, but in most drafts he is more down in the late teens.”