Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we pose a question to a panel of ESPN fantasy basketball experts to gauge their thoughts on a hot topic.
Today's contributors are ESPN Fantasy's Joe Kaiser, Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe.
Josh Jackson has recorded at least 18 points and eight rebounds in three of his past four games. What are your expectations going forward for the rookie, who is available in 88.4 percent of ESPN leagues?
Joe Kaiser: It'd be easy to completely overlook what Jackson is doing, considering that it's happening on an 18-34 Suns team that doesn't get much attention outside of Devin Booker and TJ Warren. What stands out in Jackson's hot streak is how many shots he's taking -- 14.2 per game in the past five contests -- despite being an inefficient shooter. In fact, in one of those games he went 0-for-13 from the field. While Jackson's midseason breakout is encouraging as far as his future and his confidence goes, the No. 4 overall pick last June remains a shaky option in fantasy. Right now he's someone who can score points and grab rebounds, but he provides surprisingly little else, and he does so while shooting below 40 percent for the season. Jackson remains a streamer, as far as I'm concerned.
Jim McCormick: I can't tell if this uptick in opportunities will prove enduring for Jackson (52 percent surge in field goal attempts during the past five games), but it's clear he's thriving almost solely based on volume rather than discernable improvement. He's sinking 40.8 percent of his shots in the past five games, including 28.6 percent from deep. Jackson is 28th on the Player Rater among small forwards over the past seven days and is 51st at the position (173rd overall) during the past 15 days. As you might guess, I wouldn't add Jackson in leagues with 12 or fewer teams given his lack of relative value, even in the face of robust opportunity rates. The eventual path for Jackson to become a fantasy force is likely via his defense, as he posted absolutely elite steal and block rates at Kansas, but has been somewhat pedestrian in Phoenix. I'm guessing we'll have to wait until at least next season for a breakout performance.
Kyle Soppe: Pick. Him. Up. It is no coincidence that Jackson's strong play coincided with the buyout of Greg Monroe and while Alex Len is still in town ... yea, exactly. We have no tangible proof that Len is poised for growth and considering he is averaging two fewer minutes per game over the past two seasons than he did the prior two seasons, does anyone think that the Suns are still optimistic about the former first-rounder? As for Jackson, he ranks seventh among small forwards in usage, a number I expect to grow along with his minutes moving forward, and Phoenix has nothing to lose by exploring his upside. Want an added bonus? When your league is being decided in the final two weeks of the regular season, the Suns face two of the three worst rebounding teams in the NBA in addition to two games against a potentially coasting Warriors team and two more against teams that recently lost a big-time rebounder (Clippers and Pelicans). Jackson is anything but shy on the offensive end (26.7 shots per 48 minutes during the past week), something that has me excited in the third-fastest offense in the league. Pick him up and improve your title odds ... do it now!