When you mentioned the Oklahoma City Thunder no less than a year ago, the name Reggie Jackson didn’t come up too often. After a devastating injury to their dynamic All-Star point-guard Russell Westbrook, Jackson had to quickly adjust to being the starting point-guard in an NBA playoff series. For the most part, Jackson did just that — he adjusted and he played at an extremely high level. The Thunder was eliminated in the second round, but Jackson dazzled, finishing the playoffs averaging 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. His name starts to ring more bells now that he’s a little more familiar with the task at hand. He’s a young player, but his basketball IQ is veteran-like.
If you’d ask me to compare Jackson to any other play in the league, it would be his own teammate, Westbrook. They’re both very passionate, grind it out type of players. Jackson sometimes mirrors Westbrook’s superhuman like ability to finish at the rack. Jackson looks like he’s bouncing on a trampoline when he skies for rebounds; he’s an all-around point-guard who’s more than capable of handling the starting role in Oklahoma City.
The world may be surprised when he catches fire, but it’ll be no surprise to me. The loss of Kevin Martin will work out better for the Thunder in the long run. Martin was a great shooter, but I’d get angry when he’d just be standing around waiting for screens and giving no effort on the defensive end. Jeremy Lamb will be more active; even if he doesn’t score as much as Martin, he’ll just be an all-around more productive player. Lamb will only get better behind Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
There’s isn’t much calm in Oklahoma when it comes to the Thunder; there are a lot of questions that need answering. Personally, I feel very good about the Thunder’s chances without Westbrook, who’ll only be out until maybe January, at the latest. They’re saying he’ll be back come December, but his type of injury is tricky when it comes to recovery time. Westbrook has been participating in the Thunder’s practices, so things look pretty good for his return at this point.
The Thunder backed up my beliefs when they picked up the options on Jackson, Lamb and Perry Jones III. It’ll be fun watching how everything plays out. I expect the Thunder to get from underneath the shadow of doubt cast on them by the media and opposing fan bases. The people in Oklahoma know how good their team is, and their team knows it as well.
Jackson has been having a great time ever since his solid performance in the playoffs, and his confidence has to be higher than ever. In the summer, Jackson scored 35 in an Orlando Summer League game; those numbers were good enough to break the league record. Jackson will hope to continue his rise in the ranks when the Thunder’s season begin in less than 24 hours. They hit the road to face the Utah Jazz, who just also agreed to a contract extension with forward Derrick Favors. All the talk in the world couldn’t amount to the weight carried by actions. These are two hungry teams looking to prove their doubters wrong. We’ll see how Jackson and the Thunder handle the pressure of a new season.