The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Reggie Jackson:
1. Reggie Jackson's third season in the NBA was ...
Darnell Mayberry (beat writer) — Eventful. He went from starting point guard to sixth man to starting point guard to sixth man to starting shooting guard. He had ups and downs along the journey, but in staying humble in his successes and focused in his struggles, he revealed a lot about who he is and where he is going in this league. Can’t wait to see what he does next year, when he should finally find comfort in his fourth season.
Anthony Slater (beat writer) — A roller coaster. A few weeks in, Jackson was already being pumped as the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. After Christmas, Russell Westbrook’s injury forced him into an extended stint in the starting lineup. The Thunder played well, but Jackson’s severe defensive struggles surfaced during that transition. Then he converted back to a bench role, experiencing a few shooting slumps and a rocky postseason run. But through it all, Jackson emerged as the fourth most important player for this franchise.
Berry Tramel (columnist) — Extremely productive. Jackson's minutes per game rose from 14.2 to 28.5. His points per game went from 5.3 to 13.1. His 3-point shooting percentage went from .231 to .339. His assists went from 1.7 to 4.1. So while Jackson's minutes doubled, his production far more than doubled. Jackson became a big-time NBA player this season. The clear No. 4 player on the squad.
2. Should the Thunder start Reggie Jackson next season?
Mayberry — Not if they can help it. That’s not a knock on Jackson. It’s a call for Sam Presti to go get a real starting shooting guard. Jackson is not that. He’s a point guard, and on this team he’s needed more off the bench.
Slater — It’s an idea that some are lukewarm on, but I don’t hate it. If the Thunder can deal for an Arron Afflalo type, sure, start the veteran. But if the best upgrade option out there, through free agency or the draft, is a bench guy (example: Mike Miller) or a point guard (example: Shabazz Napier), why not shift Jackson to the starting lineup? From a position standpoint, the league is no longer traditional. Let Jackson start, stagger rotations and always have him or Westbrook on the court, giving one of your best players more minutes.
Tramel — No. It was needed at the time and, through the Memphis series, he was great. Once he hit the skids, shooting 19-of-61 (31 percent) combined against the Clippers and Spurs, Scott Brooks should have had a quicker trigger, going to Jeremy Lamb sooner. But Butler was helpful and, if he doesn’t hit a sudden slump at the worst possible time, we’re talking about what a great move it was to bring him in.
3. Do you think he is with OKC beyond this contract?
Mayberry — Yes. The Thunder will do everything within reason to keep him. My only question is whether it’ll be enough for Jackson. He's clearly a starting caliber point guard with skills that teams pay a lot of money to acquire. Jackson has to know all of this by now, and the allure of what’s out there might be too much to pass up. The saving grace for the Thunder is its track record of winning. That's huge for Jackson. He wants to win a championship, and he also has to know by now that despite some difficult circumstances in OKC his best chance at doing that is right here with the Thunder.
Slater — Yes, because the Thunder is in complete control of this situation. If Jackson won’t agree to an extension this summer, no panic. He’s a restricted free agent next season, meaning the Thunder can match any offer sheet. And with an elevated tax threshold, Kendrick Perkins off the books and what’ll likely be an affordable deal – somewhere around four years, $32 million – OKC should have enough financial flexibility to keep Jackson. Unless he plays himself into a higher price tag next year.
Tramel — Yes. I think the Thunder signs Jackson to a contract extension. He's a very valuable piece of the puzzle. The Thunder brass loves Jackson. It will make him feel wanted.