Justin Jackson has been here before.
And he’s hoping history repeats.
People may not know it in Dallas, but so far, Jackson’s NBA career has followed very closely the path that he took through his college years at North Carolina.
Allow him to explain what his NBA career has been like so far.
“Just like in college, I struggled in my first year,” Jackson said. “I got a little bit better my second year, still had some struggles. And then my third year I kind of took off a little bit.
“Even back then, I told people, some guys transition into certain things a lot quicker than others. Obviously, I wish I’d come in my first year and, boom, solidified.
“But, for me, it’s about trusting the work I’m doing and trusting that it’s all going to turn out real positive. This summer is real big for me, working on everything I want to get better at and hopefully transition that into next season and help this team get better.”
That’s a major reason why Jackson has settled into a house with his wife, Brooke, in near north Dallas and spent most of his time around town, most specifically at the Mavericks’ practice facility to work out several times a week, often with head coach Rick Carlisle.
Jackson is entering his third season, still working on his rookie contract that will pay him about $3.8 million in the 2019-20 season. He firmly believes he will have a legitimate shot at being in Carlisle’s playing rotation and working out with the coach is a step toward making that happen.
“It’s been good,” Jackson said. “I feel like when the head coach is giving you things to work on, I feel like that’s what he wants to see. It’s pushing me. I’m enjoying it.”
Two things have been paramount in Jackson’s offseason focus.
“Trying to get stronger, that’s a big sticking point for me,” he said. “That will help my game even more. And on the court, we’re focusing on range. The way the game is going, nobody ever shoots a normal 3-pointer anymore. Everything is extended, so I’m working on that.”
That’s the same attack he took between his sophomore and junior seasons at North Carolina. He worked throughout the summer and came back with a better, more well-rounded game. It paid off as his scoring rose from 12.7 points to over 18 per game. His rebounding and playmaking also improved.
He’s hoping for a similar bump in his third NBA season.