How did Jarrett Jack impress?
Jarrett Jack impressed by showing up. The only Indiana Pacer to play in all 82 games also led the team in minutes with a career-high 2716 MPs.
During a tumultuous season filled with injuries, viral infections, tough, close wins and heartbreaking, buzzer-beater losses, Jack was always there ready to play the next night. He didn't talk about toughness, he exemplified it.
And where would the Pacers have been without Jack?
At different points during the season, Jack played backup point guard off the bench, starting point guard and staring off guard. He was the ultimate utility man, capable of playing in big or small lineups depending on Jim O'Brien's desired strategy.
Jack came to the Pacers over the summer with known flaws in his game. He's not the quintessential point guard. While his size is great for the position, his handle is not. He can take the ball aggressively into the lane, but his decision-making from there is sketchy. Some nights he's a hero, while other nights you're left to wonder what, if any, thought went through his head prior to a bad turnover or forced shot.
The general complaints Jack brought to Indy were evident from day one, but there's no denying his game improved throughout the season. That improvement along with his ability to shoot threes and free throws better than I expected were positive impressions on the court.
Another positive was his leadership and fearlessness. Jack really bought in to what Jim O'Brien and the Pacers organization was selling last season. He quickly became a glue guy in the locker room, helping along the young players, especially Brandon Rush, while never shying away from post-game interviews after tough losses.
Jack was fearless with the game on the line, as well. Again, this wasn't always a good thing, but I appreciate the willingness to step up and take big shots and make plays as the Pacers desperately worked to scratch out some wins. Jack's finest moment came in Madison Square Garden when he splashed the game-winner with less than a second to play.
How did Jack disappoint?
Considering the heavy lifting Jack did to keep the Pacers fighting for wins in all 82 games, it's hard to say he disappointed in any way.
We knew he wasn't the perfect point guard to begin with, so the flaws in his game weren't really disappointing. Frustrating? Yeah, frustrating works.
At the top of the frustration food chain, were the jump turnovers after beginning a drive to the hoop and getting stuck in the lane. Other drives often ended in attempts to draw fouls that weren't called and ended with off-balance chucks at the hoop. Jack's bull-in-a-china-shop takes to the bucket often reminded me of Bob Sanders attacking a ball carrier. Just full speed ahead, limbs flying with no regard for the punishment his body might take.
This was probably the area which improved the most throughout the year. The wild play wasn't eradicated from Jack's game, but the jump turnovers in particular were rare over the final six weeks of the season. Jack is still only 25, so realizing his game is still developing while he learns and plays hard and learns some more, offers hope that his best basketball is still ahead of him.
Jarrett Jack is a restricted free agent, so his return to the Pacers' roster is unknown. The market will determine everything since the Pacers can match any offer to Jack. How much they are willing to match is likely in the $3-5 million range, but then again, the draft and trades may make any number too big.
Jack appeared to enjoy playing for JOB so I'm sure he'd like to return if the contract numbers are close. In a recent interview, Danny Granger mentioned he had just spoke with Jack about getting ready for next year and how they could help lead the team. Then again, Ty Lawson was quoted saying the Pacers indicated they wanted to bring in another point guard. If so, re-signing Jack at any number makes little sense unless a trade frees up room.
I'd love to have Jack back for many years to come if the Pacers had the talent in place to diminish Jack's role on the team. While I appreciate all the minutes he played this year, it certainly wasn't by design and as a backup utility guard who is always ready to contribute, Jack would be a great asset. Think of a next gen, Haywoode Workman -- bigger and stronger with the same heart and will to compete.
Jack is a solid player on the court and a great presence in the locker room, as well as an outstanding representative of the Pacers in the community. When you consider the whole package, management is left with a tough business decision to determine Jack's future with the Pacers.
|2008 - Jarrett Jack||82||33.1||4.7||10.4||45.3||1.0||2.7||35.3||2.7||3.2||85.2||0.5||2.8||3.4||4.1||2.2||1.1||0.2||2.2||13.1|