Should You Avoid Jarrett Jack in Fantasy Basketball This Year?

As the starting point guard for the Nets, Jack has a clear path to production. Will he capitalize?

Looking to shed some salary, the Brooklyn Nets shocked nobody by buying out the remaining two years of Deron Williams’ contract.

With Jarrett Jack under a relatively team-friendly contract ($12 million over the next two seasons) and having seen some signs of positive play down the stretch, many figured the Nets would hang onto Jack.

But heading into 2015-16 season with the duo of Donald Sloan and Shane Larkin behind him on the depth chart, the former Georgia Tech product appears to have every opportunity to be the Nets’ starting point guard.

Much was made of Jack’s poor surface-level statistics, and they admittedly don’t look good. He was the worst of any player on a playoff team in terms of plus/minus (-314) and shot an atrocious 26.7 percent from 3-point range. His 3.1 turnovers per 36 minutes were the highest of his career for one full season, and to top it off, the team had a poor record (11-16) in the 27 games he started.

Outside of the career-worst 3-point percentage, it’s hard to pin all the blame on Jack individually for those poor numbers, but certainly they’ll be ones he wants to improve upon this season.

What Is There to Build On?

Although it’s probably moot at this point, it’s a fair argument to suggest the Nets would be better off having Jack come off the bench. In perhaps his best season with Golden State in 2012-13, he found his niche in the second unit. He shot 45.2% from the field and better than 40% from 3-point range. Obviously it doesn’t hurt to have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson playing in front of you, but it does suggest he has the ability to lead and drive the second unit.

But that doesn’t appear to be the direction Lionel Hollins wants to go, and he doesn’t have much of a choice, based on the lack of depth.

Let’s not dance around the obvious: If you broke down the league’s starting point guards into tiers (ignoring contract figures), Jack’s probably going to be in the bottom tier. If I have my pick, I’m likely would only select Jack as my starter over Isaiah Canaan, Jose Calderon and maybe Trey Burke.

That’s a pretty strong negative statement about Jack’s overall prospects, but it’s important to keep in mind the strong depth of the point guard position in the league currently. For some perspective, Rajon Rondo would currently rank in the bottom third of NBA point guards, yet there stretches from 2009 to 2012 where he was perhaps the best floor general playing the game.

That’s a whole other debate, but it means being a bottom-half NBA point guard isn’t such a bad thing.

Getting back to Jack, last season wasn’t a total step back by any means. As a starter, he averaged a respectable 15.9 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. And as mentioned earlier, another prime reason for optimism was his strong playoff series against Atlanta.

While much was made of his horrendous plus/minus statistics, and rightfully so, he was actually plus-58 for the series, which is more impressive when you consider not only that he came off the bench, but the Nets lost 4 of the 6 games. The team also shot 13% better from the field when Jack was on the court and even outscored the Hawks by 16.7 points per 100 possessions with Jack running the show.

He played steady minutes in five of the six games and had stellar performances in Game 2 and Game 5. A case could be made that Atlanta woefully under-performed during the series, but clearly Nets' management saw some things to build on. 

Jack’s Fantasy Prospects Moving Forward

One might be inclined to think that the departure of a more ball-dominant Williams means potentially boosted fantasy prospects from Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, but the numbers don’t seem to indicate so. Both Johnson and Lopez produced nearly identical splits playing alongside both Williams and Jack.

Jack’s situation does provide some obvious pros and cons. While his upside from game-to-game is certainly lower than the majority of starting point guards, he won't be faced with much competition for the job.

But with so many viable options at the position elsewhere, it makes sense to avoid Jack from a season-long perspective. Plus, owners might have to worry about the Nets cleaning house at the trade deadline and sending Jack packing to a low-usage role.

Given his current situation, Jack is currently projected as our 81st-overall fantasy player for the 2015-16 season.