DALLAS – Landing with the Dallas Mavericks apparently has been a godsend for Justin Jackson. Among other things, it has seemingly been the right fit for the second-year forward and also has given him the opportunity to showcase his skills.
By Jackson’s estimation, 95 percent of a player’s success hinges on being in a place where their skills are aligned with a coach’s system.
“I think there’s a lot of guys who don’t play in this league who, if they were in the right situation, they could be really, really good,” Jackson said after Monday’s practice. “Everybody in the NBA is good – there’s a reason they’re in the NBA.
“But it’s just a matter of finding that spot, finding a coach that likes what you can do, and puts you in situations to succeed doing what you can do. So, I think it’s extremely important.”
It’s also extremely important, Jackson revealed, that players have the sufficient playing time in order to gain the added confidence needed to be successful on this level.
“Honestly, I think if you ask anybody, you can have confidence in yourself, but having confidence being fed into you from the coaches or the players that you’re playing with is also very key,” Jackson said. “When the coach has confidence to put you out (on the floor) for a certain amount of minutes, or for whatever, it makes you feel a little bit more comfortable because you know that he wants you out there.”
Jackson, who turns 24 on Thursday, also is feeling a little bit more comfortable because coach Rick Carlisle has been spending some time after practice working with the Houston product. It’s some head coach-to-player attention Jackson wasn’t receiving when he played for the Sacramento Kings, who traded him to the Mavs on Feb. 6.
“It’s different from my experience with the Kings,” Jackson said. “(Kings coach) Dave Joerger is an awesome, awesome coach, but he wasn’t as hands-on on the court as coach (Carlisle) is. It’s different for me.
“This is only my second (NBA) team, so I can’t really speak for everybody else, but for me it’s been a little bit different. For sure in a good way. Being able to work with the coach, the things that he works on with you is kind of what he wants to see you do, so that kind of gives you a little cheat sheet, I guess, if you want to call it. It’s definitely been good.”
Another thing that has made Jackson comfortable is that his wife of 19 months, Brooke, was able to pack up the family’s belongings and move to Dallas after the Mavs’ Mar. 3-8 trip to Brooklyn, Washington, DC, and Orlando.
“My wife is finally out here, we finally got our stuff delivered out here (to Dallas),” Jackson said. “So now it’s just unpacking boxes and getting connected out here.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition, so I can’t really complain.”
Jackson also can’t complain about the playing time he’s received lately. And with that increased playing time, the wiry 6-8, 210-pounder has promptly played his best basketball since joining the Mavs.
During the Mavs’ recent three-game road trip to play Portland, Sacramento and Golden State, Jackson averaged 16.3 points in 29.3 minutes and shot 53.8 percent from the field (21-of-39). That includes scoring 21 points against Portland and 19 against Sacramento.
“On the court it’s been going good,” Jackson said. “I’m just getting more and more comfortable.
“(The additional playing time) just gives me a little bit more time to kind of get into the flow with the guys. It’s been good to kind of get more and more comfortable. I hope that kind of continues.”
Jackson also hopes the Mavs’ winning ways can continue when they host the Kings on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at American Airlines Center. The Mavs – they beat up the Golden State Warriors, 126-91, this past Saturday – haven’t won two straight games since they defeated Cleveland and Charlotte on Feb. 2 and Feb. 6, respectively.
And that occurred before Jackson played his first game with the Mavs.
“We were very honed in and focused on our game plan (against the Warriors), so we have to go into Sacramento with that same mindset with the game plan,” Jackson said. “They love to run in transition, so for us we have to be really focused on getting back and trying to stop them as much as possible in transition and try to make them play a half-court game as much as possible.”
Jackson knows the wire-to-wire win over the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors provided the Mavs with a glimpse of what they can accomplish when they’re all on the same page.
“I don’t think anybody’s confidence level is getting down,” he said. “We played some good teams, we’ve been fighting.
“Obviously you want to see some wins, for sure. But I think for us it’s just trying to go into next season on a high note, which for us is competing, getting better and better each and every day.”
With a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, a possible high draft pick and an elite player added over the summer during free agency, the Mavs are hopeful that next season will be the year they qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-’16 season.
“You can sense his excitement,” Jackson said of Porzingis. “You can tell that he’s ready to get back out there on the court, which is pretty awesome to see.
“He loves the game of basketball, but I think everybody is extremely excited for him next year, getting him all the way back healthy. And everybody is already thrown together, so (next season) should be good.”