Reggie Jackson was a typical player development project that already talented franchises have the luxury of being able to take on and work with their young players and not immediately throw them to the wolves in the NBA. Reggie Jackson is an exceptional athlete, with a large wing span for this size (6’3” with a 7’0” wingspan) giving him great potential to be a lock down perimeter defender. While Jackson did not expect much playing time his rookie year, you are always one injury away from playing a major role on your team. When backup point guard Eric Maynor went down with a torn ACL, Jackson was thrust into the role of leading the second unit. Jackson struggled with this role, which lead ultimately to the signing of Derrick Fisher.
The start of the 2012-2013 season should start much as the season before. Maynor will have had eleven months to rehab his torn ACL, so I suspect he will be available to start the beginning of the season. That being said Presti and Scott Brooks might look to limit Maynor’s minuets to reduce the risk of re-injury. Jackson spending a year in the offense and an off season training should help better prepare him to contribute if called upon this upcoming season. Unlike Cole Aldrich, Jackson is coming off a well played summer league. He even had himself a poster dunk, which was the dunk of the summer league. He was able to frustrate opposing point guards, and scored just over 15 points per game in his time in Orlando.
Even with the improved summer league play, Jackson still showed some areas of improvement that were issues last year. In the summer league he only shot 41% from the field. This was ultimately the reason the Thunder pursued veteran point guard Derrick Fisher last year. Last season Jackson only managed 32% from the field, and 21% from behind the three point arc. To compound this problem, Jackson is more of a Russell Westbrook lead guard, and not a true point guard. With Harden doing much of the ball handling for the second unit, this leaves Jackson is more catch and shoot opportunities that are not his strength. This shows by the fact that Jackson took almost as many threes last year as two point shots. Someone who is as athletic as Jackson needs to be taking more shots at the rim than shooting threes. However, he only shot 44% at the rim last year, so that could use some work too.
I suspect that the improvement we saw in the summer league to carry over to the NBA for Jackson and his NBA season numbers to be closer to what he did in the summer league. With Jackson expected to see very little playing time, it is tough to gage any sort of per game stats. I do expect his averages to be up this year, but still needing work. If Jackson is able to shoot 40%+ from the floor and 30%+ from three that would be a great improvement from last year. I am fairly confident he will be able to achieve these shooting numbers in limited time and should continue to improve over the season. Another stat to look for would be Jackson’s assist to turnover ratio. Last year it was just under 2 at 1.97. I suspect that number to raise slightly this season and settle around 2.5 this year, which again is an improvement but something that needs some work.
Even thought I suspect Jackson to see very limited minutes this season, I predict we will see improvement almost across the board with his season averages. Jackson continues to be an offensive project for the Thunder. Perhaps the most important issue regarding the development of Jackson is the decision to keep back up point guard Eric Maynor. Thunder will be looking to keep salaries down if they pursue an extension for James Harden. This could push Maynor out and Jackson will have to be ready for the backup point guard role. Hopefully he will be ready.