The last few days haven't been kind to Pierre Jackson.
On Saturday, news broke out that the New Orleans Pelicans were in the midst of making a trade to acquire Tyshawn Taylor from the Brooklyn Nets and the same old question started to arise: What is happening with Pierre Jackson?
Taylor spent most of his rookie season in the same way that Pierre Jackson is - putting up huge numbers in the D-League - but has since failed to capitalise on several opportunities on the injury-riddled Nets team. That has led him to being trading for essentially nothing and when the trade was made official last night, it didn't take long for the Pelicans to waive Taylor, making it clear that they weren't looking to make him their back-up point guard, but that they wanted some extra cash.
Nevertheless, the news did not sit well with Jackson, who took to Twitter to air his frustration.
Ouch.....— Pierre Jackson (@PierreJackson55) January 18, 2014
A four-letter word that says so much about where Jackson is right now. Through 21 games, he is averaging 29.9 points, which is more than five points better than the next highest scorer. He's been number one on the D-League's prospect list for weeks now. With NBA teams now being able to offer 10-day contracts, Vander Blue, Chris Johnson, Manny Harris, Dewayne Dedmon and James Nunnally have all received call-ups. But despite all those factors, Jackson finds himself in the D-League, playing for the Idaho Stampede, while the Pelicans refuse to call him up despite all the injuries they've faced over the last month.
The Pelicans may have very good reasons for stashing Jackson away in the D-League and who knows? Maybe they haven't had their door knocked down by avid general managers wanting to acquire the spark plug that Jackson is. But we've known for months now that the former Bear has a level of talent that doesn't usually stick in the D-League for very long. But if it wasn't already clear enough, he proved it again on Wednesday night.
In 42 minutes against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Jackson racked up his fourth 40 point game since December 6th, totalling 44 points on 17-for-29 shooting from the field and 4-for-10 from downtown. He also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out seven assists and racked up one steal. It came in a loss, but Jackson posted the best +/- of all the Stampede's starters (-1) and gave the Vipers a run for their money by pouring in 16 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Jackson is far from perfect. He's a shot-happy point guard who isn't a fantastic passer and turns the ball over at high frequency. Nevertheless, he's a scorer who can catch fire at any point of the game. In the D-League, that's resulted in him averaging nearly 30 points per game, which is impressive for anyone, mind alone a 5-foot-11 guard. Given his situation, he can't be called up by anyone else, but it's hard to believe that someone would've have given him at least a 10-day chance at this point if the Pelicans didn't own his rights.
But we've been here before. We've questioned what the Pelicans are doing with him. We've wondered if Jackson has a future in the NBA. But we'll have to wait even longer for those questions to be answered. Maybe it'll take him a full season in the D-League to get his chance with the Pelicans. Maybe it'll take him a full season to prove to another team that he's a worthwhile investment. But one thing that is clear is that we just have to be patient and while we wait, Jackson will continue to dazzle us with his unbelievable talent.