While leading the way for the Idaho Stampede during quite the turnaround season thus far, Pierre Jackson has been doing his best to all but run away with the D-League's Most Valuable Player award.
With as much prowess as the young gun displays on both ends of the court, one would think an NBA team would take notice and scoop him right up. But 21 games later, and Jackson is still donning a Stampede uniform.
Of course, much of that is not the Baylor alum's fault. His NBA Draft rights are still owned by the New Orleans Pelicans, giving them exclusive rights to call him up from the D-League, if so desired. No other team can at this point.
Having one out of thirty odds certainly makes it difficult for any prospect (even one of Jackson's stature) to earn himself a promotion to the NBA. With New Orleans already crowded at both guard positions, the Stampede star continues to be an odd man out.
All of this undeniably plays against Jackson's chances of reaching the next level sooner, rather than later. But perhaps a further, more complicated question, is why? Why hasn't Jackson been called up by the Pelicans? What makes him inferior to the team's already existent guards, in the organization's eyes?
It's one thing to suggest New Orleans has more than enough guards in town already, but it's another thing to ponder exactly what has held Jackson back from climbing up ladder and leapfrogging someone else up until now.
Often able to dominate the minor league competition, Jackson has been to both dish and swish with ease. What's more, he's also one of the more determined defensive players, imposing himself as a pest to deal with for fellow opposing floor generals. The young gun's stat-line is rather remarkable from left to right, save for one glaring weakness.
Despite his evident D-League star quality, Jackson's 4.1 turnovers per game certainly aren't a favorable attribute of his. The Stampede's offense runs through him, but they also employ a savvy floor general Dee Bost alongside the former. This means that despite his reputation as a go-to-guy, Jackson doesn't and won't always have the ball in his hands for Idaho. This makes his turnover number that much more discouraging.
His ability to take care of the ball (or his struggle to do so) is Jackson's glaring weakness. There's no doubt about that. Still, the fact that he's rather dominant in every other way just about makes up for the single shortcoming.
Getting that number down is something Jackson can work on and improve upon. That's within his own control. Still very young, with time, he'll likely be able to achieve such a goal. Even so, there are other factors that are simply out of the guard's hands, for better or for worse.
In addition to the draft rights situation, Jackson stands at just 5'11" and 176 pounds. Idaho may in fact play Jackson and Bost together, but even in an NBA that is seeing more and more teams favor small ball, squads may still need to go a little taller than that.
Seemingly too short to hold his own as a shooting guard in The Association, perhaps Jackson's turnover numbers are enough to scare a team like the Pelicans away from trusting him as a full-time point guard.
Is that truly what's holding him back at this point? Who knows. Still, it'll be interesting to see if as Jackson progresses to take care of the ball a bit more, if the Pelicans are more inclined to call him up and give him a shot in lieu of trading his rights away for another team to capitalize on his already existent swagger and skills.