The Sacramento Kings have spent the offseason looking a small forward capable of putting up big offensive numbers. Justin Jackson has spent the past couple of weeks trying to convince the team it already has one on its roster.
The former North Carolina star, who was drafted by the Kings in the first round of the 2017 draft, has scored 20 or more points in four of his last five games in the NBA’s Summer League tournaments.
After getting off to a hot start in a preliminary event in Sacramento, Jackson has continued his success into the more prestigious Vegas Summer League, scoring 20 points on 9 of 13 shooting (2 of 4 from 3-point range) in the Kings’ 94-80 win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 2017 ACC Player of the Year averaged 6.7 points per game as a rookie for the Kings last season. But he also got off to a slow start at UNC as well before growing in confidence and becoming more aggressive in attacking the basket.
From the looks of his Summer League performances, a similar progression might be happening in his NBA career. Jackson is averaging 18.7 and shooting 49 percent in his three Vegas games, heading into the knockout phase of the tournament.
“I like his aggression,” Kings summer league coach Larry Lewis told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee after Tuesday’s game. “I think he’s going hard. I think he’s really putting his mind to do something to change the game in our favor. I like that.”
In addition to Jackson, fellow 2017 first round pick Harry Giles of Duke has also showed promise this summer. The 6-11 power forward has averaged nearly a double-double in his first action back after missing all last season rehabbing a surgically repaired knee.
He contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds to the Kings’ win Tuesday.
This year’s top pick and fellow one-and-done Blue Devil Marvin Bagley III has been shut down for the rest of the tournament because of a bruised pelvic bone suffered in a game last weekend.
Elsewhere in the Vegas Summer League, three other Duke rookies posted big games with big man Wendell Carter Jr. hitting for 23 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots for the Chicago Bulls in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks, shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. scoring 20 points for the Portland Trailblazers in a win against San Antonio, and Grayson Allen recorded 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Utah Jazz in a loss to Miami.
The only other player with state ties in action Tuesday was UNC’s Isaiah Hicks, who made four of his five field goal attempts while finishing with eight points, two rebounds and three blocked shots against the Los Angeles Lakers in his first action with the New York Knicks.
With the placement phase of the two-week Vegas event now complete, the single-elimination tournament bracket will begin Wednesday, with the Lakers and Trailblazers earning the top two seeds.
Each of the 30 teams played three games apiece since the event tipped off on July 6, with the results of those games determining the tournament seeding. Each team will play at least two more games in Las Vegas with teams losing their first round games on Wednesday or Thursday playing a consolation game Friday. All games will be televised on either an ESPN network or NBATV.
John Collins, Wake Forest (Hawks): 2 games, 24.0 ppg, 20-42 FG, 5-10 3PT, 3-9 FT, 8.5 rpg
Justin Jackson, UNC (Kings): 3 G, 18.7 ppg, 21-43 FG, 6-16 3PT, 8-9 FT, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 spg
Grayson Allen, Duke (Jazz): 2 G, 16.5 ppg, 13-34 FG, 3-12 3PT, 4-4 FT, 6.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.5 spg
Tony Bradley, UNC (Jazz): 2 G, 16.0 ppg, 13-15 FG, 6-6 FT, 3.5 rpg
Wendell Carter Jr., Duke (Bulls): 3 G, 15.3 ppg, 17-30 FG, 3-6 3PT, 11-14 FT, 7.3 rpg, 4.0 bpg
Marvin Bagley III, Duke (Kings): 1 G, 15.0 ppg, 5-13 FG, 0-2 3PT, 5-7 FT, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg
Gary Trent Jr., Duke (Trailblazers): 3 G, 14.7 ppg, 13-36 FG, 5-13 3PT, 13-13 FT, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
Jerome Robinson, Raleigh/BC (Clippers): 2 G, 13.0 ppg, 11-23 FG, 4-13 3PT, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
Frank Jackson, Duke (Pelicans): 1 G, 13.0 ppg, 4-7 FG, 0-1 3PT, 5-5 FT, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
Harry Giles, Duke (Kings): 3 G, 12.0 ppg, 17-36 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-3 FT, 7.7 rpg, 1.7 spg
Dennis Smith Jr., NC State (Mavs): 2 G, 12.0 ppg, 9-24 FG, 2-13 3PT, 4-4, 2.0 rpg, 6.0 apg
Amile Jefferson, Duke (T-wolves): 3 G, 10.7 ppg, 14-28 FG, 4-9 FT, 13.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Trevon Duval, Duke (Rockets): 3 G, 10.5 ppg, 10-27 FG, 8-12 3PT, 5-10 FT, 2.0 rpg, 2.3 apg
Devonte Graham, Raleigh/Kansas (Hornets): 3 G, 10.0 ppg, 11-30 FG, 0-12 3PT, 8-8 FT, 2.7 rpg, 6.0 apg
Theo Pinson, UNC (Nets) 3 G, 9.7 ppg, 9-23 FG, 4-13 3PT, 7-7 FT, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 apg
Codi Miller-McIntyre, Wake (Raptors): 3 G, 9.0 ppg, 11-24 FG, 2-6 3PT, 3-4 FT, 3.0 rpg, 5.7 apg
Isaiah Hicks, UNC (Knicks): 1 G, 8.0 ppg, 4-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-2 FT, 2.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg
J.P. Tokoto, UNC (Warriors): 3 G, 7.3 ppg, 9-14 FG, 0-2 3PT, 4-4 FT, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
Kennedy Meeks, UNC (Nuggets): 3 G, 5.7 ppg, 8-22 FG, 1-2 FT, 5.3 rpg
Gabe DeVoe, Shelby/Clemson (Hornets): 2 G, 5.5 ppg, 4-10 FG, 3-4 3PT
Eric Griffin, Campbell (Pistons): 3 G, 4.0 ppg, 4-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 3-5 FG, 2.0 rpg
Terry Henderson, NC State (Hornets): 2 G, 3.5 ppg, 2-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-2 FT, 1.5 rpg
Bryant Crawford, Wake (Nets): 2 G, 1.5 ppg, 1-7 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg
Doral Moore, Wake (Wizards): 3 G, 1.3 ppg, 2-2 FG, 1.0 rpg
Rodney Purvis, Raleigh/UConn (Magic): 2 G, 1.0 ppg, 0-11 FG, 0-4 3PT, 3-4 FT, 2.0 rpg