Sunday, May 21, 2017


Tom Keegan: Josh Jackson would make a great Celtic

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) pulls up for a jumper over Duke guard Matt Jones (13) during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) pulls up for a jumper over Duke guard Matt Jones (13) during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York.


Nobody can dispute the identity of the greatest champion in the history of team sports. Bill Russell won 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics.

So when I hear somebody say, “He’d make a great Celtic,” I think of all the traits Russell brought to battle. First, he was smarter than anybody else.

One of his more famous quotes opened a window to the mind that gave him an edge: “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”

Next, his unselfish attitude, copied by teammates who didn’t dare incur his wrath, made the Celtics greater than the sum of their parts, which were quite talented as well.

Russell didn’t hunt statistics. He hunted the basketball to grab rebounds that he would turn into outlet passes, followed by mad dashes down the court, followed by tip-ins. He didn’t assign lesser or greater value to any aspect of the game. He played all-out, all the time and in the process inspired teammates and deflated opponents.

The third thing that made Russell so great was the nasty, competitive edge he brought to every game.

Next, he had an abundance of physical gifts. He could run so fast and had such remarkable quickness for a man his size, had great vision, explosive jumping ability, reliable hands. He had it all.

So to say someone would make a great Celtic is not a sentence that should be tossed around very often. Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Jo Jo White, Larry Bird and Paul Pierce all made great Celtics, although nobody can dispute that Russell was the greatest Celtic.

The Celtics own the first pick of the NBA draft and many believe they will trade for an established veteran. Others are convinced Markelle Futlz from Washington will be the first pick.

I think Josh Jackson would make a great Celtic for the same reason Russell was the greatest Celtic. Smart, unselfish, nasty competitive edge, physically gifted.

Mock drafts never put Jackson on top, but here’s the thing about mock drafts: General managers sit around and mock them.

They aren’t based on inside information leaked by organizations. They guard those secrets the way Jackson guarded Baylor’s 5-foot-11 Manu Lecomte on the game’s final possession after checking 7-foot Jo Lua-Acuil most of the game, which is to say GMs guard those secrets as if their futures depended on not letting the truth come out.

Fultz has a prettier jumper than Jackson, but the smarts, drive and humility Jackson showed in improving his 3-point shot under Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend’s tutelage says a lot about how Jackson doesn’t think he knows it all and is determined to become better.

In his first 18 games, Jackson had a .237 3-point shooting percentage. He shot .481 from 3 in his final 17 games after raising his release point, developing a quicker release and better shot selection.

He still needs to have a higher and quicker release, improvements he already has shown he can make because he's coachable.

Lonzo Ball also routinely is listed ahead of Jackson in mock drafts, but it's not as if a picture of his jumper his hanging on the walls of the Louvre either.


Dee Shaw 1 year, 1 month ago

With the fourth pick of the 2017 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 1 month ago

Totally agree any team that passes on Josh Jackson will soon regret that decision, much like Portland during the MJ draft. I can forgive Houston for taking The Dream. MJ went third to The Bulls...and the rest as they History.

William D'Armond 1 year, 1 month ago

This is the thought I have had all along. If the Celtics keep the pick, no brainer. They have 4 young guards and a point guard that can drop 30 a night if he has the right people around him. Jackson only makes sense. I also think it would be awesome as the last great Celtic was a small forward from Kansas. Jackson is a guy who is going to be wearing a teams colors for 15+ seasons. Only the Celtics and Lakers invest in guys like that.

Caden Ford 1 year, 1 month ago

With Isaiah Thomas getting injured, the Celtics may see Fultz as the next big option considering IT could get hurt again next year, etc. (Granted they did win in CLE last night..) I think Josh would be excellent pick for Boston. They could use someone like him most definitely. But i think he will slip down to the 76ers or PHX..

John Brazelton 1 year, 1 month ago

Jackson will be most happy to sign a $4 million per year contract with any team in he NBA.

Harlan Hobbs 1 year, 1 month ago

Excellent article. I couldn't agree more.

Josh Jackson will have a much better career than Fultz. Josh gave us everything he had on the court and demonstrated totally that he just wants to win. The comparison to Bill Russell in this regard is spot on, and I am old enough to remember Bill Russell's exploits quite well. The Celtics dynasty under Red Auerbach was one of the greatest of all time in professional sports.

Two other KU buys did pretty well by the Celtics, Jo Jo and Paul, so Josh would make another good one. I'm not even sure that Clyde Lovellette didn't play one time for the Celtics, although the prime part of his career was with the St. Louis Hawks.

Harlan Hobbs 1 year, 1 month ago

By the way, I googled Clyde, and he did play briefly for the Celtics at the end of his career.

Brock Wells 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm sticking with my guns and saying Josh goes 1st or 2nd and Tom's articles articulate the reasons very well! Josh is the post-Lebron generation super star who can do it all at multiple positions.

But would love to see him team up with JoJo in Philly and props to others adding Frank the Tank in the second round, although wouldn't be surprised in Frank goes end of first round.

David Friend 1 year, 1 month ago

The Celtics have a problem with Thomas as they have to decide if he is worth a max extension which is 30 million a year. My guess is they do not for a variety of reasons one being they would own that contract until IT is 34. Chances are they will take Fulz for that very reason. If they decide not to take Fulz they will either trade the pick to a Chicago or Indiana. There are also rumors about swapping with Philly as Philly would love to have Fulz and have Simmons play more of a point forward. The one thng that is certain is LA is taking Lonzo Ball. Outside of Philly who really needs a point guard, I would take JJ. Maybe i am biased but he has NBA written on his forehead!!!

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