Will Demetrius Jackson See Opportunity This Season?

Mar 27, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey reacts with guard Demetrius Jackson (11) after losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game in the East regional of the NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Carolina won 88-74. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey reacts with guard Demetrius Jackson (11) after losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game in the East regional of the NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Carolina won 88-74. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Will Demetrius Jackson be in the mix at the point guard position for the Celtics this year?

Heading into the 2016-17 season, one thing is for certain: the Boston Celtics do not lack in depth at the guard position, especially when it comes to the role of floor general. Following All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas is former first round picks Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, with 2016 second-round pick Demetrius Jackson not far behind.

The acquisition of Jackson and his inking to a fully guaranteed contract for the duration of the upcoming year is certainly an intriguing prospect, considering the fact that he may not receive the opportunity he deserves to prove himself despite his NBA-ready skill set. Jackson seemed prepared throughout his three seasons at Notre Dame to take the next step and enjoy success in the NBA, as shown by his maturation process while with the Fighting Irish.

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Jackson’s points per 40 minutes average increased significantly in each of his three years with the team, skyrocketing from a mere 10.9 in 2013-14 to 14.3 in his sophomore season and 17.9 in 2015-16. In addition, his passing numbers ballooned, as well, with him undergoing a magnanimous improvement assist-wise from 2014-15 to 2015-16, dropping 5.2 dimes per 40 minutes last season compared with just 3.5 a year prior.

Furthermore, Jackson displayed his shooting stroke in college. In his sophomore year in which he averaged 8.7 shot attempts per outing, he shot a scintillating 55.7 percent from two-point range and a whopping 42.9 percent from three-point land. By comparison, in Rozier’s sophomore season at Louisville, he shot just 41.1 percent from the field and a harrowing 30.6 percent from three.

Jackson possesses the ability to shoot both off of the catch and the dribble at a higher rate than Rozier, and his average of 5.2 points in 16.6 minutes per game in summer league is respectable. However, it is Rozier’s ability on the defensive side of the ball that sets him apart from Jackson, which is where Jackson must improve if he wishes to contend for a rotational role within head coach Brad Stevens lineup chart this season.

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Rozier exemplified his defensive intensity in the Celtics first round defeat last postseason while filling in for the injured Avery Bradley. He proved himself capable of matching up with quicker guards such as Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder. Rozier also hit the defensive glass with reckless abandon, posting the second-highest rebounding rate for a point guard in the NBA in just his rookie season.

If Jackson wishes to contend with Rozier for minutes, he will have to exhibit an increase in his lateral quickness for defending elite starting point guards in the NBA, a trait he did not demonstrate while in college. In addition, his effort on the boards needs to be upped as well, as his rebounds per 40 minutes average plummeted from 4.2 in his sophomore season to 3.8 in his junior year despite an increase in playing time.

Thus, expect Jackson to be treated similarly to how the Celtics handled Rozier in his rookie season. Rozier spent 14 games with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League last year, and he obliged with brilliant performances, posting 19.0 points, eight assists, and 6.4 boards per game.

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When the injury bug struck Boston’s backcourt, Rozier heard his name called and promoted. It will take a setback to one of the three options preceding Jackson on the point guard depth chart for him to receive playing time with the team this season, but he will be in line to receive plentiful opportunities in the D-League.