Since we have no background on how good Mark Jackson will be as a head coach, we can only look back at his playing career and try and come up with some conclusions. Unfortunately, what we come up with is still fairly inconclusive.
New York Knicks (1987-92)
Jackson made his mark early, dishing anywhere from six to eleven assists a game in his first five seasons. He was happy to give Patrick Ewing, Gerald Wilkins, Johnny Newman and Charles Oakley the rock and let them produce. He proved to be a solid shooter and finisher at the rim, and decent enough at running the break (although he was fairly slow, forcing him to gamble a lot on defense).
After getting eliminated by the Chicago Bulls in seven games, Pat Riley sent Jackson into virtual exile.
Los Angeles Clippers (1992-94)
Jackson actually had to shoulder a greater scoring load on a crappier team, and his productivity didn't drop off too much. But of course, it's the Clippers. Next stop!
Indiana Pacers (1994-96)
A point guard is never going to look glamorous playing for the notoriously slow-paced Larry Brown, and that's about what happened with Jackson's numbers in Indiana--lower point totals, lower assist totals, lower shooting numbers (although the shooting did get better his second season with the Pacers). Jackson would help out Reggie Miller to finally conquer the Knicks, although they were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Denver Nuggets (1996-97)
Traded for Jalen Rose.
Indiana Pacers (1997-2000)
Traded back for chump change (Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson, second round picks). And you wonder why Donnie Walsh was forced to resign from the Knicks (no seriously, I'm still wondering why too).
Although Jackson was fine enough as a starting point guard, his shooting numbers declined and he was now glacially slow on both sides of the floor. His three best shots at a title came during this stretch, but they were foiled by the Last Dance Chicago Bulls (particularly Scottie Pippen's hounding ball pressure), the Larry Johnson four point play, and the Big Diesel.
Raptors, then Knicks (2000-02)
Totally forgettable stints. Jackson fed Vince Carter pretty well, but he was traded to the Knicks mid-season...only to lose to the Raptors in the playoffs.
Utah Jazz (2002-03)
Not Jackson's finest hour. He averaged 4.7 points per game and 4.6 assists per game as John Stockton's backup, but it was also long-rumored he tried to push out Stockton entirely (worse of all, Stockton did end up retiring after that season, and you'd have to feel Jackson had something to do with it). You can check out the feature over at Sports Illustrated.
Houston Rockets (2003-04)
NBA on ESPN (2007-present)
Punching bag for Van Gundy's bizarre sense of humor in one of the strangest three man booths in NBA history.
Despite a solid record of productivity in every stint, it has to be worrisome that Jackson ended up getting traded six times and played with seven teams. If he's that solid a leader on the court, why are teams so eager to dispense with his talents?
What does Mark Jackson's playing career tell you about his potential as a head coach? Let us know in the comments!