As someone who has made coaching basketball his life, Bob MacKinnon Jr.has had a successful career at the collegiate and professional level. He prides himself on making a point to never lie to or about his players. When the first-year Texas Legends head coach was recently asked for his thoughts on point guard Pierre Jackson, who spent part of this season with the Mavericks, his response was especially meaningful.
Well, he knows how to play,” MacKinnon Jr. said of Jackson. “I think he’s one of the best guards I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached 25 years in college and now seven years in the pros. He knows how to get everybody involved. He plays at a great pace… He never gets hurried and he just kind of brings a calmness to the team.”
At only 25 years old, Pierre Jackson has played in the NBA both in December and again in January before a hamstring injury forced the Dallas Mavericks to cut him loose. In his 10 NBA games, Jackson averaged 3.9 points, 2.1 assists and one rebound per game, and the veteran point guard earned rave reviews from longtime Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle.
He just said he loves the way I can score and get others involved. Given enough time, I feel like I could have been a good contributor for that team,” Jackson said of Coach Carlisle. “He liked my energy and what I could bring on the defensive end and the offensive end at that level.”
Jackson has spent the bulk of the season this year in the D-League and in his 19 games to date with the Legends, he averaged 24.9 points, 7.2 Assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.
Those numbers earned him a spot in the 2017 NBA D-League All-Star Game, which was part of NBA All-Star Weekend in February down in New Orleans. But Jackson has been a D-League All-Star before, earning that honor several years back with Idaho.
It’s always good, obviously. You getting noticed as one of the better players in the league. It’s an honor,” Jackson said. “It’s where you want to strive to be. Other than winning games, you want to be one of the better players in the league if not the best player in the league. It’s an honor to be an all-star in any league I play in.”
Jackson’s road to reach the NBA has been a winding one. Originally drafted by New Orleans in 2013, his rights were traded to Philadelphia on draft night. He spent his first few seasons in Philly, but never played and spent most of his time in the D-League with the Idaho Stampede where he first earned D-League All-Star honors.
This Baylor grad has also played overseas, first in Turkey and again in Croatia, where he played to start this season before returning stateside to the D-League.
During his time with the Dallas Mavericks, due to his age and professional experience, Jackson was technically a rookie, but was still treated like your average NBA newcomer. Newbies can experience certain rookie rites of passage which for some teams can mean lugging a garish pink backpack around and bringing food and drinks to his veteran teammates.
No, it’s weird. I’m a rookie but I’m not really. I got drafted like four years ago. I was with Philly for two years. I just didn’t play a game, so I’ve kind of been around, but I just haven’t gotten a chance to play a game. So some of the guys didn’t view me as a rookie,” Jackson said.
But even with most of his Dallas teammates not viewing him as a typical rookie, Pierre still had several rookie rites he had to endure.
Yeah, I had to get food for the trips and stuff on the road. We had a little backpack, it wasn’t bad. I was already used to carrying a backpack with my daughter. So it was easy for me… an easy transition,” Jackson said.
Jackson knows that were it not for his hamstring issue that forced the Mavs to cut him in late January, he might still be in the NBA. And, like every player in the D-League, returning to the Association remains his primary goal. However, he also knows since he remains with the Legends, he can continue honing his game while also mentoring his younger teammates, like Bryson Fonville, who all want to know firsthand exactly what life is like in the basketball big time.
Jackson is one of several players who have suited up for the Legends this season who have NBA experience, a quality his coach likes especially in terms of them mentoring their younger teammates who want to reach that pinnacle.
Coach Mac has no doubt that Jackson is an NBA-caliber player. Now, all he must do is overcome one question which explains why he hasn’t been signed to return to the league yet.
He’s got to show people he’s healthy and then get the right opportunity. You saw his last game with the Mavs… He was starting to explode and then he got hurt,” MacKinnon Jr. said. “It’s not a long-term thing, but now he’s got to show people that he’s healthy again. I think he’s the best point guard in our league. So, if any NBA team is looking for a point guard, he’s a pure point guard who can score the ball. If anyone’s looking for that, then I think he’s the guy.”