In a shocking trade that saw Kristaps Porzingis join the Boston Celtics at the expense of fan favorite Marcus Smart, the C’s acquired the No. 25 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Fans are buzzing with curiosity as to who the Celtics will select.
The Boston Celtics have been linked to promising prospects such as Julian Phillips, Jordan Walsh, and Jaime Jaquez Jr. All of these players possess NBA-ready skills, but none of them are quite as tantalizing as the raw talent of Gregory “GG” Jackson.
At just 18 years old, Jackson is the youngest player in this year’s draft class. Standing at six-foot-nine with a nearly seven-foot wingspan, the teenager is a freak athlete with boatloads of upside. He also creates his own shot at a high level, an uncommon trait for a player of his size.
Outside of his shot-making, Jackson’s agility and footwork especially stand out. He showcased these skills as a freshman at USC, where he earned a spot on the 2023 SEC All-Freshman Team. During his first year of college, Jackson averaged 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds across 32 contests.
Similar to a player like Jayson Tatum, Jackson is an athletic wing-forward hybrid who weighs in at 215 pounds. For comparison, Tatum weighs 210 pounds. Jackson also possesses a smooth pull-up jumper, another unique trait for a player of his build.
Unfortunately, various scouting reports suggest some doubts regarding Jackson and his maturity level. Back in February, ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony had a lot to say about Jackson’s work ethic.
"“He gives very little effort, looking very upright in his stance, not covering ground well, struggling to get over screens and looking lethargic with his reaction time, providing next to nothing as a rim-protector due to his poor 6-11 wingspan … South Carolina’s coaching staff hasn’t been able to coax much effort or physicality out of him, with his body language looking very concerning at times.”"
After Jackson’s initial pre-draft workouts, Adam Finkelstein of 247 Sports pointed out some more reasons to approach the youngster with caution.
"“GG Jackson’s workout led to some questions. Jackson looked noticeably winded less than 10 minutes in and, while the progression of his face-up skill-set was evident, the overall pace of the workout ended up being slower than most others. Given some of the questions that emerged at South Carolina this year with regard to his efficiency, body language, and overall maturity, this showing didn’t do anything to reassure NBA decision-makers.”"
GG Jackson’s red flags must not derail Boston Celtics interest
While these reports may raise a legitimate cause for concern, Jackson’s reported issues somewhat mirror those of Robert Williams before he was drafted in 2018. Five years ago, Williams found himself scrutinized ahead of the draft for a lack of consistent drive and intensity. Today, Williams has panned out as one of the league’s hardest workers, both on and off the court.
Projected as a top-ten pick not long ago, GG Jackson has fallen to the early second round in most mock drafts. Despite the question marks surrounding his NBA readiness, the offensive stud has all the individual weapons to go much earlier in the draft.
Jackson’s decrease in overall draft stock could work in Boston’s favor, potentially setting up the Celtics for a huge steal – if another team doesn’t snag Jackson first.
Despite the heartbreaking departure of Marcus Smart, the Celtics still boast one of the deepest rosters in the NBA with plenty of contributors to choose from. For this reason, Boston doesn’t necessarily need to use the 25th pick on a more polished player with a lower ceiling. Instead, the team can take a flier on the untapped potential of GG Jackson and see what comes from it.