A year ago, I wrote this. I talked about how Reggie Jackson was a rookie and he was hurting this team. Then I went and gave a few suggestions that might be able to help this team improve. None were right, because we signed Derek Fisher instead. He was, whether or not you liked the kid. He wasn’t ready to be a back up point guard on a team that went to the NBA Finals.
“Last year I was so timid, and the mistakes I made were, I believe, even worse because I wasn’t really trying to do anything out there,” Jackson said. “So just knowing that you have a little freedom and being comfortable with the system a little more, and just a year of growth, I think, has really helped.”
The difference that a year makes.
Even early in this season, Eric Maynor was your back up point guard. Took about a month before we saw that disappear. While Maynor was struggling as the back up point guard, Jackson was just waiting his time. He spent a lot of time up in Tulsa. That was topped off by a 35 point explosion in the D-League.
Thunder fans were falling in love with Jackson. His killer speed is something you HAVE to love. However, a lot of fans were skeptical of him, due to last season leaving such a bad taste in their mouths.
Jackson checked in on December 12th against the New Orleans Hornets and gave the Thunder a huge boost of energy. Not only did Jackson energize the team, he scored scored five points, including a huge three-pointer. He was a game high +12.
Since then, Jackson has been a staple in the Oklahoma City rotation, and many times has helped the second team really score points, something they’ve been really lacking a lot this season. He’s been able to break double digits in points four times in the last 17 games.
In fact, if you just break down the 17 games, Reggie Jackson is averaging 7.4 points per game, 2.9 assists, and less than one turnover per game. If Jackson had a real fault in his game, it would be his three-point shooting. He’s shooting just 26.5 percent.
There is more to Jackson than just his statistics. He brings a real speed to the team, and his ability to maneuver through the lane, it reminds me of a young James Harden.
A lot of his improvement can be credited to actually having a training camp. Some of you might not remember, but we had a lock out last season. We had less than a month of training camp. I believe we had less than three weeks of training camp. Instead, this season, Jackson was able to work out with the team all off season. He participated in the summer league where he was a star there.
“I was trying to find myself last year,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t who I am accustomed to being.”
Jackson has been a project since day one, but each and every day, Jackson learns something new and applies it to the court. The Oklahoma City fans are seeing it and flourish more and more. You’ll see him cut through the lane, turning his body and getting to the rim.
“Last year, I definitely didn’t have the confidence to do that,” Jackson said.
He’s finding a way to be very productive in limited minutes. He’s not a solid defender, yet. Outside of Russell Westbrook, there aren’t many players who can stay in front of Jackson. Now that he has the confidence, something he lacked last season. His focus on running the team when he’s on the floor has been much improved since the beginning of the season. It’s a lot of the reason why he was able to over take Maynor in the rotation.
Now that we’ve added Derek Fisher… again, Jackson has improved even more.
In his first game with Fisher on the court, Jackson played the best game of his career. He made 6-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three-point range, for a career high for 14 points. He followed it up by having another career game against the Lakers, dropping 10 points in the victory.
Jackson has been able to continue his improvement at the lingering effect of someone lurking over his shoulder. While playing in limited minutes, he’s been able to keep his position.
It makes you wonder how good Jackson could be if given full minutes. Those 12 minutes that Fisher are getting a game, were given to Jackson, or even a handful of them were given to him what improvements we could see.
We were all worried about Jackson’s confidence since the acquisition of Fisher, Jackson has fought the good find, and he’s winning. It helps that Fisher is playing like junk, but Jackson isn’t worrying about what happens on the court, he’s taking care of what he can control. That’s all you can do.
Since the signing Fisher, Jackson’s numbers have sky rocketed. He’s averaging almost 10 points per game. His minutes are up by almost four minutes per game. What’s even more impressive is that in the Thunder wins, Jackson is pushing over 10 points per game, while averaging almost 20 minutes per game.
It’s safe to say, he’s becoming a big part in why the Thunder are able to win ball games.
Could Jackson become that player who emerges from the Thunder womb that becomes a key piece in a championship winner? Possibly. As I said before, his cuts to the rim are Harden-esque. Just work on the beard, and the three-point shot, he might one day, reach his level on this team.
With a lot going on in this crazy season, the Thunder need a consistent bench player, and Jackson is one player that can say he is. Oklahoma City is counting on him, and he’s stepping up. He’s becoming very exciting to watch. So, the future is very bright for this young gun and this team, still.
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