ESPN’s Legler: Josh Jackson the Closest Thing to Kawhi Leonard
As we get closer to the June 22 NBA Draft many have an opinion on who is the best fit for the Sixers at No. 3.
With the Boston Celtics picking first, and most likely taking Washington’s Markelle Fultz and the Los Angeles Lakers picking second, most likely taking UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. Then comes the Philadelphia 76ers third, and their options are endless.
A guest of the Sports Bash, ESPN NBA analyst Tom Legler, says when looking at the Sixers at No. 3 there is one guy that stands out.
“He's an incredibly hard worker, he's the most competitive kid his age I think I've ever seen who is an elite defender," Legler stated.
"From day one in an NBA game he’s going to contribute and help you because of the way he defends and how much he wants to defend. People question the shot making but look, look at him throughout the year at Kansas he got significantly better as the year went on, making corner threes, wing threes. He has got a great handle, with great vision and a super high IQ."
I think he’s the closest thing to a Kawhi Leonard since Kawhi came out. If you get 3, if I was the Sixers and I had two, I’d pick Jackson.”
Legler, who coached Jackson at some summer camps, pointed to the amount of trust Kansas coach Bill Self had in Jackson as a freshman during his one year at the school..
"Look at Bill Self trusting this freshmen, and he in-bounded the ball for them against all pressure and there's a reason for that," Legler explained.
"It’s because he has vision and IQ, and a good passer. He broke the press and he started making shots. Free throw shooting is a little bit of a concern but again that’s a confidence thing. His free throw shooting is going to be significantly better two-years from now."
A 6-foot-8 forward averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds with three assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game and when watching Jackson, Legler sees a lot of one NBA star in his game.
"I think he’s the closest thing to a Kawhi Leonard since Kawhi came out," Legler said.
While Legler said he thinks Jackson is the best fit for the Sixers at No. 3, he said had Philadelphia ended up with one of the top two picks he believes Jackson still might be the pick.
“If you get No. 3 Josh Jackson, that's the pick - but i'll be honest with you, if I was the Sixers and I had two - Im taking Josh Jackson, and I'd be tempted at No. 1." Legler said.
While Legler said he sees Jackson has the hardest working player in the draft, it doesn't mean he wouldn't consider moving out of that spot for the right deal.
“Yes, it would entice me because there’s a couple guys that I like back there," Legler admitted. "Depending on what the picks are. I really like Johnathon Isaac from Florida State. That kids got star potential. As much as I liked Brandon Ingram last year, I like Isaac even more. He just blows me away with his talent level and his size at his position. I also think he can be an elite defender because of his length. He doesn’t have the “want to” like Jackson does, but I think he can translate that to both ends because I think he might be a better scorer than Josh Jackson. So you might get a little bit more overall. I like Isaac a lot so if he’s one of the guys you can get and someone offers you a pick that translates to him and another pick or another young player that’s going to play in your rotation and really help you.”
Sounds good, right?
So if you add a player like Jackson or Issac in the draft, plus the return of Ben Simmons, a healthy Joel Embiid and Jerryd Bayless - does Legler see the Sixers making a playoff push?
"I think that they are in the mix to make the playoffs next year," Legler stated.
"I think ultimately they come up short. Look at the teams above them that made the playoffs, they’re just more polished. The Sixers have more talent overall than some of those teams as far as what these guys are going to turn into. But they need some ripening, they need some time together. I think the Sixers are still going to be fighting potentially to still make one of those spots but I don’t know if they get in next year. That’s realistic."
The NBA Draft is Thursday June 22, you can listen on 97.3 ESPN.