May 15, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (11) and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson (15) wait for play to resume during game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Grizzlies defeated the Thunder 88-84. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Jackson's development is key for OKC Thunder this season

With the departures of James Harden and Kevin Martin over the last two seasons, maybe the most key aspect of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2013-14 season will be the development of Reggie Jackson.

A lot of the attention has gone to Jeremy Lamb this summer about who will be the Thunder’s next sixth man, but Jackson is the more likely candidate as he is coming off a breakout season.

Here is what Amin Elhassan of ESPN said of Jackson:

The departure of Kevin Martin from the Thunder leaves a gaping hole for the sixth man scorer’s role, one that had also previously been held by James Harden, and Jackson probably stands the best shot at filling that need. In a weird way, Jackson has benefited tremendously from two major injuries to teammates: Eric Maynor’s torn ACL two seasons ago and Westbrook’s torn meniscus during the playoffs. While he isn’t nearly as explosive or efficient a scorer as Harden or Martin, Jackson has the potential to be the best defensive option of them all. He has good length and quickness and is a tremendous rebounder from the backcourt, but has a penchant for getting lazy on the defensive end, something that doesn’t stick out as much at 14 minutes per game as it does at 27.7 (what Martin played last year) or 31.4 (what Harden played). Jackson needs to set himself apart by bringing the intensity and focus on the defensive end consistently.

Offensively, Jackson does a good job attacking the rim off pick-and-rolls, and brings back some of the playmaking Oklahoma City lost when it traded Harden, allowing Westbrook to shift over and focus more of his energy on scoring. Jackson’s perimeter jumper needs to improve tremendously, however, for this match to work because Westbrook is a streaky shooter in his own right. Furthermore, there will be stretches when Westbrook will be on ball, making it difficult to leave Jackson on the floor if he’s not hitting shots consistently. Ultimately, it will be up to Jackson to make it worthwhile for head coach Scott Brooks to keep him on court. Otherwise, the Thunder might have to look at unproven alternatives, such as second-year players Perry Jones III or Jeremy Lamb.

I think a lot of people don’t realize just how good Jackson is and looked last year. He definitely flew under the radar until the playoffs after Russell Westbrook got hurt.

I expect Jackson to emerge as the Thunder’s sixth man next season and even close out most games in the backcourt alongside Westbrook.

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