Reggie Jackson has performed admirably this season, as a reserve and also as a starter in place of the injured Russell Westbrook. Could he perhaps take out the Sixth man of the Year award to really cap off a wonder campaign?
Although he has started a number of games, in order to be eligible for the award, Jackson must come off the bench in more games than he starts. Through 64 games for the Thunder, he has started 30 of them and come off the bench in 34 and with a healthy Russell Westbrook now back in the starting lineup, it is fairly safe to assume the remaining games on the schedule will see Jackson play his “off the bench” role in all of these. If that is the case, he will be eligible for the award – but is he good enough to win it?
His numbers stack up very well – 13.3ppg, 4.0apg, 3.7rpg with a PER of 14.95. He has guided the Thunder through a tumultuous period (along with some guy called Kevin Durant) and they have one of the best records in the league. Others may score more (Jamal Crawford – Los Angeles Clippers) or they may have a little more experience and exposure in the sixth man role (Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs) but has anyone actually been better than the young man out of Boston College?
Jackson’s value was quickly established in last season’s NBA playoffs when he was thrust into the starting lineup due to the Westbrook injury and took over the role – grabbing the opportunity with both hands. That continued during this season where he has been in and out of the starting lineup but has been very effective regardless. Whenever he has taken the floor against last years finalists and Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs – he has outplayed everyone. 23pts, 4rebs and 2 ast in their first battle, 21pts, 3rebs, 4ast in the next one and most recently his 27pt, 2reb 9ast effort in another Thunder win.
That in itself just shows not only his value to this Thunder team, but just how much he has developed into one of the best young talents in the league. Seamlessly being able to transition from starter to reserve to start again shows his poise and maturity, while the rest of the numbers speak for themselves. He may not always put up gaudy numbers, but he is ultra reliable and consistent. In his 64 games this season, he has only failed to reach double figure scoring in just 16 of them and in the majority of those, he was only a bucket away.
If he isn’t the favorite – he certainly has to be one of them, with the only other competition likely to come from Jamal Crawford. Crawford is more of an explosive scorer and gets buckets – plenty of them. The Clippers are also boasting a solid record and Crawford has a very good PER. He has only started 23 of the Clippers 61 games too so he qualifies – for now. With JJ Redick still sidelined, Crawford might find himself starting the majority of the Clippers remaining games which could push him very close to ineligibility, a problem that Jackson will most likely not face.
While the guidelines and criteria for the award are open to very wide interpretation, there are likely a couple of key components to the voting thought process. Does he make the team better? Does he know and play his role? Does he deliver that spark off the bench? Is he reliable and does he put up numbers? When you look at the award through this criteria, then Reggie Jackson has to be a front runner to win it. He ticks all the boxes and in sensational fashion. He has displayed a complete and all-around game for a team that is one of the best in the league and surely that counts for something.