According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Cedric Jackson is going to be called up by the San Antonio Spurs in lieu of the recent injury to Tony Parker. This will be Jackson's second NBA call-up this season. The first came with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in January. He then earned a second 10-day contract with the Cavs before returning to the BayHawks in mid-February.
In my opinion, Jackson is a great pickup by San Antonio. Like Parker, Jackson is lightning quick off the dribble, and he has an uncanny knack for getting to—and finishing at—the rim. Just how fiercely does Jackson attack the rim? Well, he has taken nearly a quarter of the BayHawks' free throws this season (219 of the team's 980 attempts) despite missing nine games during his time with the Cavs.
His offensive shortcomings are outside shooting (28.6 percent from 3) and occasionally questionable shot selection, but that's been less and less of a problem as the season has progressed and he's matured as a player. Of course, on a team with players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli, Jackson isn't going to be asked to be a primary scorer the way he is for Erie. The good news is, Jackson is also a terrific and efficient distributor who is more than capable of getting others involved. When he's not finishing at the rim, his dribble penetration is setting up open shots for his teammates. He's 3rd in the D-League with 7.4 assists per game, and his 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio is good for 10th.
Jackson will likely assume the backup point guard role behind George Hill. In his previous NBA stint, Jackson played just 10 minutes in 5 games. The Cavs' short-handed guard situation was covered up quite nicely by LeBron James. The Spurs, however, don't have that same luxury, so it would not surprise me to see Jackson earn some legitimate minutes for the Spurs (*edit* Gregg Popovich may have other ideas with this less than ringing endorsement courtesy of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Anyone we sign isn’t going to help us this season.")
San Antonio has traditionally been a team built on defense. How's Jackson fit in on that end? He's a rookie, so there's room for improvement, but he is a good on-ball defender. He's fourth in the D-League in steals, averaging 2.1 per game, and he has the lateral quickness to stay in front of just about anyone. He's listed at 6'3," which is pretty good size for a point guard, but he's a little on the slender side and could struggle defending a bigger, physical point guard like Chauncey Billups or Andre Miller. Off the ball, I think Jackson is still learning some of the intricacies of NBA help defense and the pick 'n roll, but that's where his time with the Cavaliers—one of the best defensive teams in the league—surely helped out.
I'm not familiar enough with the Spurs to know if they have a unit that really looks to fast-break, but that's one area where Jackson really excels. Whether he's starting the break with a steal of his own or taking the outlet pass from a big man, Jackson has shown game after game that he's one of the best in the D-League at getting the ball from one end of the court to the other and making the right decision to get a score in transition. I know Richard Jefferson has had trouble adjusting to his role in San Antonio. Perhaps Jackson can get Jefferson some easy baskets on the break a la Jason Kidd when Jefferson was starring for the Nets.
The bottom line is that with Parker out six weeks, the Spurs are in the need for someone to fill in for the rest of the regular season. George Hill is capable of playing big minutes, but they're going to need a backup to contribute as they fight for playoff positioning. If Jackson signs on, he'll have an opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches in the game, Gregg Popovich, and the rare privilege of playing with LeBron, Shaq, and Duncan all in the same season.
Even if Jackson's tenure with the Spurs ends with Parker's return in April for the playoffs, this upcoming six week period (assuming he's on board for more than just another 10-day stint) could do wonders for Jackson's career future. He's already demonstrated that he's a willing and capable learner, taking his bench-heavy Cleveland experience in stride and saying all the right things upon his return to Erie. Plus, his game has never looked better. In the first two games this month, he's averaging 27.5 points on 56.7 percent shooting with 12.5 free throw attempts per game (76 percent free throw shooting), 7.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 4.0 steals per game.
The Spurs are in Cleveland tonight, so Jackson will miss out on the opportunity to suit up against his former teammates. But he could be in uniform as early as Wednesday when the Spurs are home hosting the New York Knicks. It may take some time to adjust to a new system, new teammates, etc., but given the opportunity to be an NBA player for the second time this season, I'd be surprised if Jackson didn't make a positive impact as a Spur the rest of the way.
Implications for the BayHawks
As for Erie, this move puts a major dent in their offensive attack as Jackson was the conductor that helped their offensive engine get going with back-to-back 100-plus point efforts this past weekend against Iowa. Jackson's call-up would likely shift recently acquired Blake Ahearn into the starting point guard spot unless coach Treloar is set on going with a smallball lineup. If that's the case, toss Cliff Clinkscales into the mix alongside Ahearn, Mike Gansey, Jackie Manuel, and the line big man, John Bryant, when the BayHawks host Sioux Falls tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
For another savvy D-League blogger breakdown of Jackson to the Spurs, check out Scott Schroeder's take from Ridiculous Upside.