The 2013 NBA Playoffs will likely be remembered as a disappointment by the Oklahoma City Thunder. They came into the postseason with the hopes of making it back to the NBA Finals for the second-straight season, but the injury to Russell Westbrook threw their plan off course. They were then defeated in the second round by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Though the result may not have been what the Thunder expected or what they wanted, all was not lost in the postseason for OKC. One thing that the Westbrook injury allowed to happen was to put young point guard Reggie Jackson in a big role on one of the biggest stages the league has to offer.
Jackson started the nine games in the playoffs that the Thunder played without Westbrook and played in all 11. Overall he averaged 33.5 minutes per game and put up 13.9 points, 3.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from three-point range. Though that’s a lower three-point percentage, it’s much improved from his career averaged of 22.3 percent.
Though Jackson made several mistakes in his larger role and wasn’t near ready to be put in that position, there’s no question that he grew as a player from the experience. He learned how to handle that kind of pressure, how to take over as a leader on the floor, and how to be effective against high levels of competition.
Jackson still has a lot of work to do on his game. He needs to work on his ability as a playmaker and as a passer. He also needs to work on making better decisions in big moments and in high-pressure situations and needs to improve defensively. However, he is still very young and is obviously very talented. When Westbrook returns, he will return to his role as a backup. It’s likely that his experience in this postseason will make him one of the best backup point guards in the league.