MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In between watching games from a spacious suite inside Chesapeake Energy Arena and rehabbing his right knee, Russell Westbrook has spent his time watching movies and tutoring teammates.
“Even though I'm out,” Westbrook said, “I still have a voice and I can help my team.”
Perhaps no player has been under Westbrook's tutelage more than his replacement, Reggie Jackson.
“Yeah, Coach Westbrook's done a good job,” Jackson joked. “Watching the game and observing, he's definitely on me a lot about pedal to the metal and just trying to make plays for others and myself and that will take the load off Kevin (Durant).”
We'll see how just how good of a Coach Westbrook is on Saturday afternoon.
Should he take Westbrook's advice and put the pedal to the metal, Jackson could emerge as a key player in Game 3 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Though he's been solid since stepping in as the starting point guard, Jackson has yet to tap into his offensive abilities in this series. The moment he does could become a turning point for the Thunder.
Turnovers and subpar rebounding were the main problems for Oklahoma City in Game 2. But the common denominator in each of the first two games was Durant had to carry the offensive load. In both games only one other player provided consistent scoring.
That's where Jackson comes in.
“He's one of the guys we have that can make a play for himself and can break down the defense,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison.
Jackson might be the only player other than Durant who can do those things.
The problem is he hasn't. Yet.
Jackson has averaged just 11 points against the Grizzlies. He's attempted only 16 shots.
In his first four games as Westbrook's replacement, Jackson averaged 17.3 points against Houston. He averaged 13.5 shots over that span, and Jackson's offensive contributions became a big factor in the Thunder making it out of that first-round series.
But Jackson hasn't asserted himself since Game 6, when he was brilliant and came three rebounds and two assists shy of a triple-double.