On November 24th, Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that former Pelicans PG Frank Jackson had signed with the Thunder.
The deal at first glance was a complete headscratcher, as Jackson joined our team already loaded at the Point Guard position, but it makes alot more sense knowing what we now know about his contract.
2-Year Minimum Contract (3.5M)
1st Year- $1,678,854
2nd Year- $1,824,003
*Only $250,000 is guaranteed
Why Does His Contract Matter?
With the addition of Frank Jackson the team sat at five point guards. And it still remains that way as outside of him you have Shae Gilgeous-Alexander, George Hill, Theo Maledon, and Ty Jerome.
Frank Jackson is a project player who never broke out of his shell with the Pelicans, the pickup of him on such a cheap deal gives us the flexibility to either waive him if he doesn’t perform well in the preseason or keep him on the 15 man roster and try to resurrect his career.
One question to bring up is if Jackson ended up signing a minimum with us, why wouldn’t he have chosen to be signed and traded to OKC in the Adams deal? The Thunder netted four players from the Pelicans in the 4 team trade: Darius Miller, Zylan Cheatham, Josh Gray, and Kenrich Williams. Two of those players (Josh Gray and Zylan Cheatham) have already been waived by the team, and cost us upwards of 3M to cut them loose. If Jackson wanted to go to Oklahoma City he could have easily thrown himself into the deal and been on a fully guaranteed contract his first season. The only explanation I can draw up: He wanted to bet on himself trying to get a contract higher than the minimum.
How Did Frank Jackson Wind Up in OKC?
Just some backstory on Frank Jackson, he was the 10th ranked prospect in 2016 and played in the McDonalds All-American game that year (other notable players in that game include DeAaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum, former Thunder player Terrance Ferguson, and his now teammate T.J. Leaf.) He even won the event’s dunk contest throwing down an Aaron Gordon esque up and under dunk.
With his dazzling performances in high school displaying himself as a knock-down shooter and a freak athlete, every blue chip program in the country was drooling over getting a shot to develop Frank Jackson. Ultimately, he committed to play with the Duke Blue Devils, a decision that ended up being costly to his draft stock. Jackson played most of his freshman season coming off the bench, as Duke was loaded at the guard positions, Luke Kennard, and Grayson Allen playing ahead of him in the depth chart.
His numbers didn’t pop off the page as a Freshman, averaging 10.9/2.5/1.7 on 47% FG and 40% from the 3. The consensus was Jackson would stay another season with Duke, as he would undoubtedly be the teams starting PG. Instead he opted to enter his name into the NBA draft. He slipped right out of the first round being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 31st pick.
Jackson had a solid rookie campaign with the Pelicans, putting up 8.1/2.2/1.1 on 51% from the field and 31% from 3, on just 19 minutes a game. But with the Pelicans acquiring PG Lonzo Ball from the Lakers at the start of last season, Jackson saw a huge dip in minutes, playing just 13 a game. His production also slipped with numbers of 6.3/1.4/1.0, and with that the Pelicans opted to not pick up his team option, making him an unrestricted FA. That’s how he fell into our lap, on a really team-friendly deal.
What Does Frank Jackson Bring To OKC?
With Frank Jackson, you have a point guard who on the scoring side of things, has all the pieces necessary to be a deadly scorer off the bench. His shown the capability to be a 3-level scorer in the NBA, effective on catch and shoot situations, being a reliable shot creator in the mid-range, as well as driving to the hoop. This athleticism is showcased with his 42 inch vertical.
Even though he has all the attributes on paper, playing well on in those areas was not guaranteed on every given night. As one the biggest trends with the Pelicans last year was his lack of consistency. He had a solid bubble in terms of scoring, and was relatively consistent too, including a breakout game vs. Orlando where he dropped 31 points. A lot of people are excited to see him on the team based solely off that performance, but prior to the bubble his regular season stats were not pretty.
He would have patches of great games where he would be scoring in double-digits consistently on high efficiently, but then follow it up with a patch over games he simply could not score. The most glaring example of this came November 19th last season, in which he put up his then career high 23 points on 9-14 shooting. He followed that up shooting 8-40 FG (20%) and 4-19 3PT (21%) in his next 12 games (Nov 16- Dec 15.) He didn’t score in double figures until almost two months after his 23 point performance, scoring 22 on the Boston Celtics January 11th.
However; with all that being said, it was obvious from the get-go his sophomore season with New Orleans, he really was not given a fair shot with the team. Dropping a 21 year old’s minutes after putting up great numbers as a rookie could easily kill a players confidence. I would imagine that sort of scenario would lead to players forcing it on the offensive end, trying to prove themselves as an option. This is what I believe likely lead to his inconsistency shooting the ball this past season. I would expect his shooting woes to stop as I could see him as a consistent option off the bench. Expect his role to be based alot off of catch and shoot situations.
In terms of other aspects of his game, still has alot to work on. In terms of playmaking and passing, he does not pop off the page, his assist/turnover ratio is only at 1.38, for reference, SGA’s is at 1.93. On defense, he often gets himself in to foul trouble, as he actually averaged more fouls per game (1.3) than assists (1.0) and turnovers (0.8.)
What Role Should You Expect From Jackson?
Ideally, I see him as a shooting guard. Yes, he is undersized at 6’3″, but his game is built around scoring. Look for at him mainly as a perimeter threat off catch and shoot situations, who also can drive in and be a valuable slasher when given the lane.
All the teams he’s been associated with since high school had not given him a fair shot. Duke buried him in the team’s depth chart, never leaving much opportunity to shine. New Orleans opted to give his minutes to Ball and as a result, he never knew what his role on the team was. This change of scenery was the best possible scenario, as with OKC being in full on rebuild mode, Jackson will get his chance to play and carve out his game.