Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder has seen a fair share of vicissitudes this season. He was thrown into the fire last year with Russell Westbrook‘s injury in the playoffs where he finally got a chance to shine. He now finds himself in the same situation but with even better results this time around. It may be an overstatement if I said that he has been the most important asset to the Thunder’s growth this season, but he has has been a major factor nonetheless.
The Thunder are 4-4 in January without Westbrook, and Jackson has been lights out — aside from a two-point performance in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. In fact, over his last five games, he is averaging more than 20 points — his best performance over five games at any point of his career. His maturation has been outstanding, and it is even rubbing off on other players. Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams have shown improvement lately as well. They will be even more effective when Westbrook returns to the lineup.
Jackson has proven to be more than just another player coming off the bench. He has shown poise through his playmaking ability and willingness to share the ball. He is a team player with the ability to make big shots as well. The Thunder have struck gold once again with this kid out of Boston College. If anyone is going to make Oklahoma City forget about the James Harden debacle, it is going to be Jackson with a little help from players like Lamb and Adams.
The Jackson experiment is not over as there is a lot of basketball left to be played this season. It will be fun to watch him blossom. He has already played well enough to be considered a serious contender for the NBA‘s Sixth Man of the Year Award, but he may also find himself in the running for the Most Improved Player Award as well if he continues to shine. The Thunder may be hobbled now without Westbrook, but they have played well regardless of what the critics are saying. I am seeing a team that has improved and done their best with the little they have to work with. People tend to forget how young this team is, and that makes it even tougher to make mid-season adjustments due to injuries. The Thunder, with or without Westbrook, are a success story, and they will close this chapter with their heads held high.