Reggie Jackson might be better than you think, as a player and as a fit on the Thunder.
Four days after he became the newest cog in Oklahoma City, Jackson's selection still seems to be somewhat of a mystery to many.
But now that the dust has settled on the NBA Draft and the initial draft grades that feed our insatiable appetite for immediate gratification have been given, it's time to really examine exactly what the Oklahoma City Thunder landed with the 24th overall pick last week.
We might find the answer to be Russell Westbrook 2.0.
That very well could be Jackson's ceiling.
Last Thursday night, however, Jackson's surprising selection sparked so much confusion that it clouded most of our minds and prevented many of us from being able to make sense of how Jackson fits.
Jackson, the 6-foot-3 point guard out of Boston College, originally was viewed as a replacement to current backup Eric Maynor. That notion was quickly shot down by team management. And the more you think about it the more sense it makes.
Because Jackson's game is much closer to Westbrook's than Maynor's.
Call up any Internet clip of Jackson, and you'll see him soaring through the air for highlight dunks, flying through the lane for rebounds point guards have no business getting and virtually getting to any spot he wants on the court.
But even Thunder GM Sam Presti's stated motive for selecting Jackson seemed to be only a surface level explanation. Presti talked about how Jackson adds depth to the program. How his skills, given ample time and development, could really benefit the team.
It really all sounded more like someone trying to temper expectations for a prospect that could go down as the steal of the 2011 draft. Deep down, everyone knows Jackson has the skills to make an impact sooner than later. As of today, it just might be more likely that Jackson finds himself in the rotation next season than finding himself being shuttled up the Turner Turnpike to the Tulsa 66ers.
One of the biggest needs the Thunder had going into the draft was bench scoring. With Jackson on board, that hole might no longer exist. There still is a justifiable question as to whether the Thunder picked the right man for the job. Players such as Texas' Jordan Hamilton, Providence's Marshon Brooks and Marquette's Jimmy Butler were still on the board. But given the Thunder's track record in the draft the front office has earned the benefit of the doubt.
If James Harden is inserted into the starting lineup next year, Jackson might be the Thunder's best bench scorer from Day 1. Nate Robinson without a doubt would own that title but doesn't only because both coach Scott Brooks and Presti have indirectly made it clear he's not wanted in OKC.
That leaves Jackson, whose scoring ability could remove pressure from Brooks and make his decision easier to in fact start Harden in place of Sefolosha. It's a move that the Thunder desperately needs to bring balance to the starting lineup. But it's a maneuver that, no matter how obvious, still wasn't a sure thing before last Thursday because Sefolosha coming off the bench would have left the Thunder void of anyone in the second unit who can consistently create a shot.
Enter Jackson, who averaged 18.2 points and 4.5 assists as a junior with the Eagles. And because Jackson is versatile enough to play on the ball or off it, he won't be locked into a designated position. He can spell Westbrook or Maynor or play alongside them. He can set up his teammates by delivering passes on time and on target or he can spark the Thunder with his own scoring.
For four days, most of us have been blinded by what position Jackson plays.
It's time for us to clean up that clouded judgment. It's time we realize, once and for all, that clearly defined, traditional positions are largely meaningless, especially on a team as versatile as the Thunder.
Reggie Jackson is a fit, and it's perhaps taken most of us too long to see how.