Pierre Jackson surely had to rub his eyes at times during this week’s Sixers minicamp to be certain this was real.
“It’s been a super crazy year,” Jackson said Thursday.
Indeed. After all, Jackson was supposed to be going through this routine of preparing at PCOM for the Orlando Pro Summer League last season. The Sixers used the 42nd overall selection in the 2013 draft on the point guard before shipping him to New Orleans as part of the trade that netted Nerlens Noel and this year’s No. 10 pick.
A knee injury hindered Jackson (5-10, 180) last summer and he eventually signed a deal to play in France, although he left prior to ever suiting up. Jackson then found a home with the Iowa Stampede of the NBA’s Developmental League only to leave midway through the season to join a club in Turkey.
Now Jackson’s with the Sixers after the franchise traded this year’s 47th overall pick, Russ Smith, to the Pelicans to get him back.
“I’ve been everywhere, but God’s blessed me to put me back in this situation that I wanted to be in,” Jackson said. “Looking back on the year I had, not too many can say they did it. … I just take it as a blessing. It all worked out.”
It certainly did, but the 22-year-old Jackson isn’t about to get comfortable. Just like most of the Sixers’ summer league roster, he’s fighting to prove he can play at this level.
“I’m just trying to get familiar with the offense that they run and the type of plays they run,” Jackson said. “I’m just going to play my game. If a player’s open, I’m going to pass it. If I can score, I’m going to score.”
The scoring part shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Jackson led the D-League in scoring with 29.1 points per game on Feb. 4 and set a D-League record with 58 points against the Texas Legends.
Mix the Sixers’ uptempo style with the typical push-it pace of summer league games, and Jackson should feel right at home when things get underway Saturday.
“I’m a real short, fast dude, so you know I want to get up the court,” he said. “Score when we can, score easy buckets, so we don’t have to work as hard on offense. I’m looking forward to playing this type of pace.”
With just a couple other ball-handlers on the roster, Jackson will have a major opportunity to showcase his talent in Orlando. The Las Vegas native hopes to do the same when the summer league scene shifts to Sin City later this month.
After the year he’s had, a few more trips won’t matter to Jackson if he can make Philadelphia his final destination come the fall.
“I’m extremely excited. Last summer, I didn’t even really get to play, but now I get to play possibly in both of them,” Jackson said. “I’m excited to just go out there, play in the Orlando one and especially play at home. I get to play at home again. It’s going to be fun.
“I just feel like when you come up here it’s a blessing and you want to stay up here. That’s my goal. I’m trying to stick.”