2013-2014 Thunder player grades: Reggie Jackson, leader of the Thunder bench, but future starter?

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Jackson made his mark in the 2014 playoffs, helping to get his team to the WCF. How much more room does he have to grow?

Full Name: Reginald Shon ‘' Reggie ‘' Jackson

Nicknames: '' October,'' and '' Better Baskebtall ''

Years in NBA: 2011-2014; Three Years

Contract Status: Reggie Jackson signed a 4 year / $5.83 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, his guaranteed rookie contract as the 24th pick in the 2011 draft. He is entering the 4th year of the 5 year rookie term, with the 5th year a team option. His salary before any contract renegotiation is:

2014/15: $2.2M

2015/16:  $3.2M

Notable Factoid: We should have seen it coming. On July 9, 2013, Jackson recorded 35 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter, against the Detroit Pistons to help the Thunder rally to a 79-75 victory. His 35 points set a new record for points in the Orlando Summer League. Less than a year later, Jackson scored a career-high 32 points in game 4 vs the Memphis Grizzlies to, for intents and purposes, save the Thunder's season.

Player History: Reggie Jackson was born in Pordenone, Italy. He graduated from General William J. Palmer High School in Colorado springs in 2008. He won the 2007-08 Gatorade Colorado boys basketball player of the year, and in April 2008, he officially became a U.S citizen.

He arrived at Boston college and joined a basketball team that was already filled with great basketball players. In his freshman season, the Eagles made the NCAA tournament, and the credit goes to Jackson for being explosive coming off the bench. In the next 2 seasons, he stepped his performance, and this resulted in him being shifted to the starting line up on the team. In his junior year he was the leading scorer of the Eagles in 2010-11 season averaging 18.2 games per game, and made the All-ACC first team in the 2010-11 season. He entered the draft and the Thunder took him with their 24th pick.

Pre-season Expectations: With the absence of Russell Westbrook in the 2012-13 playoffs, Jackson was pushed into the starting role. He did a great job, as he had 14 points, 2 rebounds, and one assist in his first starting career. He was expected to continue in this role as Westbrook rehabbed his injured knee.

Heading to the 2013-2014 season, I expected that Reggie would come out stronger in the following season, as he will start gaining more responsibility and minutes. It was obvious that the Thunder were struggling in terms of needing a reliable scorer and a back up point guard. Therefore, Jackson was expected to fill both of these roles, as he had a good amount of abilities fulfilling these two spots.

Regular Season Grade:

Grade_b_medium

Jackson did a great job in the regular season in terms of being a successful sixth-man player, and playing among the starting five when Westbrook was injured. If you compare his stats starting, from 2012 till 2014, you'd notice that he improved a lot. He averaged 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in the 2013-2014 season.

Jackson used to average 3.1 points, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 rebounds per game in 2011. In 2012, he developed and started to average 5.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game. despite that, the moment he had the opportunity to play for more minutes, he became explosive, his stats increased rapidly, and he became a threatening weapon on the Thunder's bench.

Post Season Grade:

Grade_a_medium

In the 2014 NBA playoffs, Jackson became a valuable scorer for the Thunder, and a dependable sixth man player. He used his athleticism and improved shooting to make a significant impact. It is enough that he rescued the Thunder with his high career 32 points against the Grizzlies in game 4. He far exceeded our expectations, and he's playing like a man who eventually wants to be a starter in this league.

In addition, he did a tremendous job playing in the starting role in Sefolosha's spot when Coach Scott Brooks shuffled the lineup.   Durant and Westbrook needed help in the offense in the Western Conference Finals, and Jackson gave them a 3rd offensive force.

Most Memorable Game/Moment:

Reggie Jackson career high 32 points against the Grizzlies in game 4 NBA 2014 playoffs. Without Reggie's impressing performance in game 4, the Thunder likely would have lost in their opening round series.

Future Expectations:

It is not guaranteed that Thabo Sefolosha will remain with the Thunder, and even if he did, he is likely not going to retain a starting role. Jackson makes an obvious choice to fill in since he did well in the playoffs, but that thins out an already thin bench. In case the Thunder do not sign a dependable scorer, I believe that Jackson will take Sefolosha's place, and will help Durant and Westbrook offensively. Jackson has a huge amount of athleticism, and he's developing rapidly.  If the Thunder do sign a good shooting guard to replace Sefolosha, Jackson is likely going to remain on the bench, but 2014-15 could be his time to make a run at 6th man of the year.

***

Player Grades Explained:

A: Far exceeded expectations

B: Exceeded expectations

C: Met expectations

D: Did not meet expectations

F: Fell far short of expectations

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