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Who is Demetrius Jackson?

The Celtics inked Jackson to a very lucrative deal for a second-round pick. What exactly can he bring them on the court?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics made some waves Monday evening when they signed Demetrius Jackson. The Notre Dame product was awarded a 4-year, $5.5 million deal with the last year a team option via Adam Himmelsbach. The deal is fully guaranteed, a sign of how highly the Cs viewed Jackson, who unexpectedly dropped into the mid-second round after being pegged a 1st-round pick by most experts.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was originally unimpressed with the move and wasn’t a fan of what I watched in the summer league. However, a deeper look into what Jackson did at Notre Dame sheds a bit of a light on why the Celtics made this investment.

What can Demetrius Jackson bring to the next level?

Jackson is a mini 6-foot guard with a cornerback-like body and athleticism that was highlighted by plays like this:

Jackson was featured heavily in a Notre Dame system that had a short rotation spearheaded by Jackson. His 36 minutes per game in 35 games is equivalent to about a 15 minutes per game workload throughout an 82-game season. Notre Dame ran its fair share of zone defense, but Jackson showed some potential as a strong on-ball defender with the lateral quickness to keep up with just about anyone. Because of his size and limited wingspan, his defensive versatility is limited, but being able to defend the most important position in basketball is still a useful skill. At the next level, Jackson will need to work hard to understand team principles and understand positional defense fully. His athleticism won't be as much as a weapon defensively, where teams will run him through screen after screen. Anticipation and understanding where to be at all times will be his only hope at competition on that end. And even if he does all that, there's still a chance he'll be a bad defender—the downside of being that height.

Offensively, Jackson didn't show it much in the summer league, but he's a crafty pick-and-roll player.

Jackson is great at changing the pace with hesitations to throw off the timing of the trees that surround him. His quick first step keeps defenders on their heels, and his ability to shoot from range (career 38.1% from three in college) gave him the full arsenal to attack from the pick and roll. Jackson is still developing as a passer, but has shown some promise, especially in the PnR where he uses hesitation moves to create passing lanes to thread the needle.

The vision and creativity are there as a passer, even though he doesn't have the gaudy assist numbers to back them up. As Jackson gets accustomed to his team, his passing creativity will become more noticeable. In a league that is heavy on PnR, his ability to shoot, pass, and attack may give him a niche that he can expand on.

Though defensively Jackson may not have the versatility that the Celtics are accustomed to, he will have that ability on offense. In college, Jackson averaged 1.24 ppp off catch-and-shoot opportunities and 2.0 ppp when he's left wide open. His range seems like it can hold up in the pro game, which bodes well for his NBA aspirations. For a Celtics team that really needs guys who can hit a three-pointer, Jackson could make a few cameos since the Cs have enough versatile defenders to hide him.

One of the last things that made this such a Danny Ainge pick was Jackson's intangibles. In short, the guy is tough, and he has a reputation as a blue-collar worker—similar to Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and what many considered Ainge to be in his day. The hard-nosed defensive guards have been a consistent staple in the Ainge-era draft history. Though some scoff at the idea of a GM picking a prospect in his image, I find in that it works well. In drafts filled with teenage kids who have similar upside, how do you determine where to go? Ainge relies on guys that are known as hard workers with high character. If you're investing your time, money, and effort in young men, those are probably the two characteristics that you look for. It's what separates the Terry Roziers from the James Youngs. Jackson's status as a prospect with higher intangibles bodes well for his chances at the next level. At his size, those are the things that could be the difference from playing in the NBA to playing in China in two years.

Where does Jackson fit in to Celtics plans?

This is more of an interesting question. Though Jackson does theoretically have skills that can help the Celtics, right now it's really all just theory. Jackson doesn't project to be better than Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, or Terry Rozier, so minutes just won't be there. However, he will most likely have a strong role in Maine, where he can learn the team schemes and be a bus ride a way in case one of the guards goes down with an injury. Because of where he was picked, it might be fair to assume that he won't add much trade interest, but if he does show a lot of promise in Maine, it could give the Celtics more leverage to deal away one of their other guards. Regardless, considering the skill set and potential fit, this was a solid move by Boston.

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