Training camp is underway for the Oklahoma City Thunder and preseason games will be starting next week. The Thunder are returning pretty much the same roster from last season with only a few minimal tweaks.
One position that is up for grabs is the backup point guard spot.
“We have two great choices,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of the backup point guard position. “I think with those two guys (Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson), it’s going to be interesting to watch.”
By the end of last season, neither Maynor nor Jackson was getting any run for the Thunder. Derek Fisher was brought on shortly after the trade deadline and assumed the backup point guard duties. Maynor was injured for the season after playing just nine games and Jackson failed to impress much in his rookie year.
Maynor is expected to be back and fully recovered for this upcoming season and that is great news for the Thunder. Maynor was thought of as one of the premiere backup point guards in the league before he got hurt.
Maynor averaged 14.6 minutes per game two years ago for the Thunder and averaged 4.2 points and had an assist percentage of 30.3. He also shot 38.5 percent from 3-point land.
Jackson struggled mightily in his rookie campaign last season averaging 3.1 points per game and having an assist percentage of 21.2. He shot 32.1 percent from the field and 21.0 percent from three.
Jackson was only a rookie though and thrust into a role a little too soon. He was not ready to be that guy for the Thunder last year but that doesn’t mean he can’t become that in the future. Jackson is a great athlete for his position with a lot of potential as an on-ball defender. Once he becomes more confident with what he is doing on offense, we could see a huge jump in production from him.
Maynor is most likely in his last season with the Thunder too. Like with James Harden, the Thunder have until Oct. 31 to extend Maynor’s contract otherwise he will become a restricted free agent next summer.
The Thunder are in “win now” mode of course but the fact that Maynor’s time with the Thunder seems like it’s going to end after this season, could mean Jackson will get a better shot at assuming the backup point role sooner than later.
By all accounts, Maynor should win the job and there should be a noticeable improvement to the OKC bench. Harden had to take over much of the playmaking duties last season in Maynor’s absence and did a nice job with it, but adding Maynor next to Harden will definitely make the Thunder bench more productive.
It’s an important role too as the backup point spot is essentially the only point guard on the roster. Russell Westbrook is by no means a true point guard and besides him last season, Harden looked the closest to a point guard on the floor.
Maynor can bring back something to the Thunder equation that was missing last season. It is a very important ingredient. We know this because if you think about the NBA Finals and just how much the Thunder could have used a player like Maynor, especially with Harden struggling.
Brooks can say all he wants that there will be a battle for the backup point guard position but in reality, it’s Maynor’s job to lose.