| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has long admired Frank Jackson’s game from afar.
When Casey was coaching the Toronto Raptors in 2016-17, he kept an eye on Jackson in his lone year at Duke, impressed by his athleticism and ability to score from all over the floor. Since then, though Jackson has had a well-traveled NBA career; he was drafted 31st overall by the Charlotte Hornets, then dealt on draft night to the New Orleans Pelicans. He started this season with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being waived in December.
And now? He’s a Piston, signed to a two-way deal on Dec. 27, and getting playing time due to injuries to the team’s other guards. (Killian Hayes is out indefinitely with a hip injury, and Derrick Rose missed Sunday’s loss to the Jazz with a sore left knee.) In his two appearances, Jackson has shown that he can contribute despite limited time to learn the offense and his teammates — confirming Casey and the Pistons’ belief that he’s worth developing.
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“Luckily we got him on our team now, and he’s a two-way guy, but he’s another one of the young guys who are coming into the program and be what we need,” Casey said after Friday’s overtime win against the Suns. “He’s a quick-twitch offensive player, he’s tough on the ball, he has a lot of toughness about him and I’ve always liked him from afar. Glad he’s with us.”
During that Friday debut, Jackson played 10 minutes and tallied three points and an assist. His lone bucket was a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the corner, and his assist came after he used his quick first step to beat Chris Paul and dump the ball off to Jahlil Okafor for a dunk. He was also active defensively, using his quickness to good effect.
“He came in tonight not knowing a whole lot of what we’re trying to do, learning our zone rotations, the bumps and everything on the fly,” Casey said Friday. “I thought he did a good job.”
With Rose missing Sunday’s game, Jackson saw his role increase slightly. He finished with three points, three assists and four rebounds in 12 minutes, thogh all but one rebound came in a 7-minute stint in the second quarter.
He was active as a playmaker against Utah, using his quickness to push the pace and break down the defense. His passing was criticized when he came out of college, but he has made good reads in his limited role with the Pistons.
It’s unclear how long Rose will be out. He has two days before the Pistons face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. Casey has praised Jackson’s performance so far, but he would like to get him up to speed as well.
“I thought Frank gave us a spark, but he’s just so new to the team, understanding exactly what we’re doing, where we need the ball to go and learning to play,” Casey said Sunday. “You add another really new face in, but a talented young man. Tonight’s not on him, it’s the newness of the situation. It’s an opportunity for someone else, whether it’s Frank being in that position, Delon (Wright) playing as many minutes as he did. We missed Derrick and hopefully he’s not out that long.”