Reggie Jackson went high in the air and hauled in a defensive rebound with 37 seconds remaining in the opening quarter Tuesday at Miami. When he landed, he quickly surveyed the court.
To his right was Russell Westbrook. Taking off in front of him was Kevin Martin.
Jackson had a decision to make: pass it to one of his go-to scoring options, or initiate the offense himself. Without hesitation, he settled on the latter, scooting up court with five dribbles before tossing up a floater while getting fouled on the play.
Only four seconds elapsed off the game clock, preserving a pivotal two-for-one scoring opportunity for the Thunder.
“Last year, I definitely didn't have the confidence to do that,” Jackson said.
Meet the new and improved Reggie Jackson.
The Thunder's reserve point guard has become more comfortable and confident in his second season and is now looking to show off his skills as the newly-named backup to Westbrook. After giving a recovering Eric Maynor 25 games to find his rhythm following last year's knee injury, Thunder coach Scott Brooks handed Jackson the keys to the second unit three games ago.
It's his show now, and the Thunder is hoping that in his second season Jackson has matured and moved past much of his erratic play from a season ago.
“I was trying to find myself last year,” Jackson said. “I wasn't who I am accustomed to being.”
There are reasons to believe this year could be different for Jackson, starting with the natural progression players make in their sophomore seasons. Already, Jackson has shown growth as a shooter, ball-handler and decision-maker.
But Jackson is benefiting from a long list of experiences that a lockout-shortened season robbed him of as a rookie.
He didn't play summer league last year. He didn't have a full training camp. He didn't have many practices during a compacted schedule. He didn't have health on his side.
Coming into this year?
He had summer league. He had training camp. He had practice time. He's had health.