he rewritten news article in English is:
Jackson, the NBA’s best defensive player, was humiliated at the World Cup. He was partly responsible for Team USA’s loss to Germany.
At the World Cup, Jackson’s defense was only one word: weak.
Huge contrast, impeccable defense in NBA
Let’s look at the huge contrast between Jackson’s performance in the NBA and the World Cup. In the regular season, Jackson not only scored a career-high 19 points per game, but also grabbed 7 rebounds, blocked 3 shots per game (the best in the league), and won the Defensive Player of the Year award. He also had 1 steal per game.
With his luxurious defensive stats and impressive team record, Jackson deserved to be the best defensive player of the season. The young star became a defensive anchor, with a huge presence on the court.
Seeing Jackson’s outstanding performance, USA Basketball naturally wanted him on the team. Jackson’s versatile and modern defensive style also fit well with coach Kerr’s preference. In short, people had high expectations for Jackson at this World Cup.
But the reality was opposite. Jackson was very mediocre at this World Cup. In the key game against Germany, Jackson only had 8 points and 3 rebounds, and was outplayed by former NBA fringe player Theis. Theis scored 21 points, almost three times as much as Jackson. In the win over Italy, Team USA dominated the opponent, but Jackson only had 2 points and 3 rebounds, and did not match the team’s excellent performance.
In the loss to Lithuania, Jackson had 3 points and only grabbed 1 rebound. Against Montenegro, Jackson’s offense was not bad, but he did not get a single rebound.
Can we say that Jackson’s defense was overrated based on the World Cup? In fact, Jackson did not fit well with the World Cup’s style of play. When he was pushed to an unsuitable position, his defensive flaws were exposed.
Defensive flaws obvious, weak in physicality
In this year’s playoffs, the Grizzlies were upset by the Lakers, and Jackson’s defensive problems were obvious: he was good at help defense, but he was easily pushed away by his opponents in one-on-one situations.
Jackson entered the NBA as a standard power forward. His defensive style and habits were similar to Garnett’s back then. He relied on his excellent physical talent and mobility to complete high-quality help defense and rim protection. That’s why Jackson’s blocks were always among the top in the NBA. He could easily switch on screens and put high defensive pressure on ball handlers on the perimeter.
But Jackson was not a traditional center after all. When he entered the NBA, he weighed only about 100 kilograms. He might not be able to hold his ground against a heavy power forward. His disadvantage would be even bigger against European traditional big men.
Jackson was not only lacking in weight, but also in lower body strength. Many power forwards relied on their excellent lower body strength to easily grab rebounds. For example, Garnett had double-digit rebounds for many seasons in his career. Jackson did not have outstanding lower body strength, and his positioning was very poor when boxing out. He often lost his position and gave up defensive rebounds.
Among the starting centers at this World Cup, Jackson’s rebounds were at the bottom. There was no defensive three seconds at the World Cup, and his opponents could slowly wrestle with him in the paint.
Bad habits continue to this day
Jackson also brought his bad habits to the World Cup. In the NBA, Jackson had a very bad habit: he fouled a lot and many fouls were unnecessary. For example, after losing a rebound, he would randomly pull his opponent and get called for a foul by the referee. Or he would be too impatient on offense and run into his defender with the ball. This year in the NBA, he averaged 3.6 fouls per game.
With Jackson’s talent and physicality, he could easily play 33-38 minutes per game, but he never played more than 30 minutes in any season of his career. The reason was very simple – Jackson fouled too much. In his second year in the league, he averaged over 4 fouls per game. Even if the coach wanted him to play more minutes, he could not stay on the court for long.
At this World Cup, five fouls meant disqualification. Jackson did not play much time at this World Cup either. His replacement Portis was not known for his defense either. As a result, Team USA’s interior became a playground for their opponents. They lost to Germany and Lithuania because their interior was dominated.
Against Germany, Team USA once tied the game and took the initiative. At that time, Team USA had a twin tower lineup on the court, which worked well. Coach Kerr did not know why he continued to use a small lineup.
The interior advantage was very important at the World Cup. Jackson was a power forward by nature, and playing center for a long time was too exhausting for him.
Jackson did not have to change his style in the future and gain weight to play center. What he needed to change was his defensive habits and reduce unnecessary fouls. He also needed to improve his lower body strength and rebounding ability, so that he could become a truly excellent defender. What do you think of Jackson’s performance at the World Cup?
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