August 5, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Lauren Jackson, a modern-day center in the 2000s

'What stood out to me was how almost perfect her innate sense of movement was'

It’s time for another installment of our WNBA Retrospect series at Locked on Women’s Basketball! The series reviews old game film, news reports, stats and more to determine who has been the best prospect in the history of the WNBA. Last week, Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer discussed the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, Chamique Holdsclaw. This week, the trio discusses Lauren Jackson, the first overall pick in 2001. 

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Lincoln first described what stood out to him while watching Jackson’s pre-WNBA film.

“The first thing that jumped off the page to me is her burst as a 6’6 center, putting the ball on the floor,” he said. “She’s blowing by opposing bigs whenever she really wants to and just getting to the rim and displaying the ability to score at all three levels, which is insanely impressive as a 17 or 18-year-old, going up against seasoned pros. … It’s a ridiculous experience to watch young Lauren Jackson play because of her combination of size, movement, skill, length and athleticism. It’s so impressive to watch.”

Em talked about how Jackson’s instincts were ahead of her time.

“This is just because of the era it was, what stood out to me was how almost perfect her innate sense of movement was. … This is a time when if you had the ball at the key and you passed it and you hit a dive and you weren’t immediately hit on the basket cut, you would just walk five feet and then post someone up and just wait for the ball. That’s what Team USA is doing. No, that’s not what Lauren Jackson does,” she said. “Her instinct is almost perfect, again at an age when she’s still seven, eight years off from her prefrontal cortex being fully developed. Her instinct is to hit the cut, be open quickly and then if she’s not there, she immediately clears to the corner, not the short corner, the corner.”

Jackson played for the Seattle Storm for 12 seasons after being drafted by the team. She was named an All-Star seven times and averaged 18.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.

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