Reggie Jackson caused quite the stir in Orlando.
At last week's summer league, Jackson was among the best young players showcasing his skills over the course of the five-day event.
The Thunder's second-year point guard put on an impressive performance, dominating with a dazzling mix of scoring and playmaking that left him darn near indefensible. Jackson's bursts of jaw-dropping athleticism throughout the week — most notably a poster dunk over Utah forward Jeremy Evans on the final day — confirmed just how much of a cut above he was from the rest of the competitors in Central Florida.
Media members watched in amazement as Jackson obliterated opponents. Coaches craved more. Agents lined up to offer their services.
It was a stark difference from the player we saw last season. As a rookie, Jackson struggled to acclimate himself to the pro game and eventually saw his backup spot get turned over to veteran Derek Fisher. Quietly, questions arose about what type of hit Jackson's confidence would take after such a roller coaster rookie season and whether he would ever be what the Thunder needs.
But summer league became Jackson's first step in silencing his critics and slowly building up some credibility.
In 45 regular season appearances, Jackson averaged 3.1 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 11.1 minutes per game. He shot 32.1 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Thunder fans, by and large, thought he was terrible and were ready to run him out of town.
But Jackson showed his resiliency by ranking seventh in the Orlando Pro Summer League in scoring with a 15.3-point average. He also averaged 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists to earn Second Team All-Summer League honors.
It's been proven that successful summer league stints rarely provide a true indication of how a player will perform in the regular season. But this time the consensus was clear. Jackson, by all accounts has a bright future ahead of him.
Many in Orlando saw Jackson as a player on pace for such big things that he could soon become the Thunder's next dilemma — following the well-publicized decisions that need to be made on James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor.
The thinking is that Jackson simply is too talented to remain a third-string player for much longer. But with Maynor returning from a knee injury that cost him most of last season, Jackson looks locked into another year of learning.
His future, however, might be directly tied to the outcome of whatever deals the Thunder eventually work out with Harden and Ibaka.
With the franchise quickly running out of resources to retain all of its young players, paydays for everyone will not be possible. Harden seems most likely to get rewarded with an extension to his rookie contract, be it this summer or next summer as a restricted free agent. If so, that would mean that it's Ibaka's contract negotiations that could decide Jackson's role going forward.
If the Thunder is somehow able to keep Ibaka in addition to Harden, it won't be likely that Maynor will be in Oklahoma City much longer. Even though Maynor recently hinted at being willing to take less money to remain with the Thunder, the fact is he's one of the best backup point guards in the league and also confessed that he's interested in being a starter someday. Soon, a handful of teams might offer that opportunity.
But if the Thunder decides it is unable to keep Ibaka along with Harden, then OKC figures to have more money to keep Maynor and, thus, keep Jackson waiting in line for a more prominent role.
The decisions that dictate what's in the franchise's best interests are getting more difficult for the Thunder by the day.
And it doesn't help that the choices made today could hold consequences for tomorrow.