Kings' Justin Jackson looking forward to NBA summer league action
NBA free agency opened Saturday night with a small forward being atop the Kings' wish list.
So what does that mean for one of Sacramento's current players at that position? Nothing.
Justin Jackson was a first-round draft pick last June, but had an uneven rookie season that included being sent down to the G League.
As Jackson prepares for summer league play with the Kings, starting with the California Classic on Monday in Sacramento, he isn't putting any extra pressure on himself to prove the Kings are wasting their time pursuing someone to play the three spot.
"Honestly I don't have anything to prove in my mind," Jackson said. "For me, it's going out and doing what I can possibly do. Whether the team needs another three man? Cool. I'm just trying to get as good as I can be. If they do bring another three in, then that's competition. I'm going to try to earn whatever minutes I can, whatever time for can."
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 6.7 points in 68 games as a rookie. He shot 44.2 percent overall, but his 3-point shooting, something the team needs from Jackson, was only at 30.8 percent.
Jackson will play a lot this summer in Sacramento and Las Vegas. He's more confident heading into his second season and more comfortable, unlike his rookie season, which was a lot about trying to prove himself to the coaching staff. Now he can relax and just play.
Given the lows that came for Jackson as a rookie, he was unshaken by the results. His belief in his game was high at the end of the season.
"I think my confidence, it's always been there," Jackson said. "... There (were) ups and downs, whether I was playing up here, playing down (in the G League), not playing much, whatever. But for me, I try to keep as much confidence as I can."
Jackson did have times when his impact could be seen. His defensive effort was lauded at times and he had games in which his offense was clicking.
For Jackson to stay on the floor, he has to be able to do more than score. He won't be the primary option on offense, so he has to make the most of his chances while also showing more of the good defense he displayed at times while being an efficient shooter, passer and rebounder.
Jackson's focus this offseason has been cultivating his all-around game and staying in the weight room.
"For me, it's trying to be as productive as possible whenever I'm on the court," Jackson said. "So whether that's me trying to shoot the 3-ball better, I've got to work on that. Whether it's ballhandling a little bit better, I'm working on that. I've really been trying to work on everything, honestly."
Jackson refuses to let the talk of adding another small forward bother him.
His approach to life is deeply rooted in his faith. He considers it a privilege to play in the NBA, so he'll do his part, work hard and believes that, no matter what happens, nothing his owed to him.
That's not to say Jackson wants the Kings to replace him, the idea just won't hinder him from improving.
"I never try to keep that mindset that I’m trying to prove anything," Jackson said. "I don't deserve any of this, God blessed me with all of this anyway. Whether if I'm playing 35 minutes a game or five minutes a game, I'm just going to go out there and play as hard as I can."