Back in 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder were fresh off of their first postseason appearance of the OKC era. It ended in heartbreak after Game 6, as a last-second Pau Gasol tip-in allowed the Lakers to advance to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. The Thunder drew pick #24 in that year’s draft. With it, they picked up a 6’3″ point guard out of Boston College by the name of Reggie Jackson.
Jackson found himself buried deep on the roster early, but the departure of James Harden had left a void at their “sixth man” position. Now, different teams like to utilize their sixth man in different ways. For the Thunder, they need their sixth man to provide scoring as Durant and Westbrook catch their wind on the bench. With Harden’s departure, Jackson was given the opportunity to step in and fill the role. How well has he done it to this point? Well, that’s what we’re about to find out.
Offensive Grade: B
The one thing I really love about Jackson is the fact that, much like Harden, Jackson has no reservations when it comes to attacking the rim. Pair him with Westbrook in the backcourt, then all of a sudden you have the threat of an explosive cut to the basket from both guards, which forces defenses inside to pack the paint. Westbrook and Jackson both have the ability to cut to the basket, force opposing defenses to collapse inside to protect the paint, then serve a quick dish to a wide-open Durant on the wing for an easy 3-ball. The thing is, Durant’s defender has to be forced off of him towards the paint for that to work. Most NBA defenders simply know better than to leave Durant wide open beyond the arc, or anytime really. That’s why, if they fail to draw the defense in, they need the ability to get to the rim quickly and finish with a bucket. Westbrook definitely has the ability, and he knows it too. That’s why he has no qualms whatsoever about picking up the ball and finishing the play himself. While Jackson will be quick to attack the basket, he demonstrates his ability to finish as merely “so-so”. He would have earned an A outright for his fearlessness in attacking the basket, but his lack of consistency forced me to drop him one letter grade.
Key for improvement - If he gets promoted to starter, then he’ll easily get what he needs to improve. Increased minutes and practice are the only ways to develop consistency. A simple increase in minutes played will do Jackson wonders.
Defensive Grade: B+
You don’t really hear much about Jackson’s defense. But if you’re able to impress a guy like Kendrick Perkins with the defense you play, then the defense you play must be rather solid. In an article about OKC’s “glue guys”, Perkins talked about Jackson’s defense, and how it’s serious trouble for his opponents if he is “locked in”. The thing is, he’s not always “locked in”. How can I tell, you ask? People who are always “locked in” are usually consistent for the most part. His inconsistency is the only indicator I need to tell me that he tends to lose focus at times. Then again, it’s hard to maintain focus when you look up at the scoreboard, and find yourself down 20 points to the opposition.
Key for improvement - Honestly, just the increase in minutes will help Jackson maintain focus better, simply because he’ll be in the thick of things more.
Yes, Reggie Jackson is a hard worker. That would have earned him an A grade. Then you have to factor in his tendency to lose focus during games. That’s what took him out of the A category.
Key for improvement - A show of hunger would be very encouraging to the front office. Although I have this feeling that the impending increase in minutes will get Jackson’s stomach rumbling for sure.
Overall Grade: B
If the Thunder don’t find a decent shooting guard via free agency, Jackson will get the promotion he seeks. Although he has said that he wants to start at the 1, with Westbrook showing absolutely zero desire to play the 2. If he gets promoted, he and Westbrook will have to figure out among themselves who is playing which position. Although I see Jackson’s hunger increasing simply with the promotion to starter, regardless of if he starts the 1 or the 2 position. Jackson’s increase in minutes is imminent, and you can tell he’s ready to take it on head-on. Be ready, opposition! Reggie Jackson is hungry again, and he’s coming to eat your lunch, or eat you for lunch! At this point, it’s his decision. Just be ready!