During the the 2014 NBA playoffs the Oklahoma City Thunder decided that Reggie Jackson will be a starter and not because of someone being injured, but because of what he gives to the team on offense compared to others at the shooting guard or second guard position. Now that opens up his appetite and his expectations of being a starting player when next season begins.
Reggie Jackson? It’s not really hard to figure out what he wants: I’d like to be a starter. I’m not going to lie. Scott Brooks isn’t revealing anything, and obviously so, it’s way too soon: Don’t know. It’s so early.
Jackson did start 36 games during the regular season while Russell Westbrook was either injured or resting, but in the postseason his starts came in the conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs, as Brooks benched Thabo Sefolosha after the first couple of games, wanting to get more offense from his starting unit, even if it came at the expense of the team’s defense on the perimeter.
How did it work out? Not that great. Jackson did play in both wins for the Thunder, but scored only 3 points with the injury bothering him in game 4, and had a bad game 5 before a pretty good game 6. In short – inconsistency on the offensive end, and not contributing much on the defensive end. However, when Ibaka and Perkins play together and Russell Westbrook if focused, it doesn’t really matter.
Despite two great offensive players in Westbrook and Durant, the Thunder’s success is based on their defense imposing its will. Clogging the paint and rushing out quickly to shooters, with Ibaka being the more mobile of the two big men and Perkins playing closer to the rim. Jackson doesn’t have the size and length of Sefolosha, but he does create other problems for teams offensively and also helps take the load off of Russell Westbrook in terms of ball handling.
The Thunder will have a decision to make this summer regarding Jackson. No doubt a talented player who can play in both guard positions, Jackson becomes a free agent in 2015. The Thunder have until October 31 to get Jackson to sign an extension, but they don’t have any cap space (even if they use the amnesty clause on Kendrick Perkins) and don’t want to enter the luxury tax.
Jackson could be a starter for a few teams around the league and has certainly improved – not just with his numbers due to playing more minutes and getting a bigger role, but he does a better job when handling the ball or playing off of it. Whether that is a big part of what the Thunder have planned for their short and long term future remains to be seen, but staying a bench player probably won’t make Jackson very happy.