Reggie Jackson wasn't supposed to be ready this season.
The plan was to bring him along slowly and groom him for the future.
But when Eric Maynor was lost for the year to a knee injury last month, the rookie out of Boston College was thrust into active duty only 10 games into his NBA career.
Jackson and the Thunder have had to make the best of it, and so far the results have been adequate.
Yet, people still are concerned over whether Jackson is the Thunder's weak link to a title; if Oklahoma City can win it all with a rookie backup point guard.
Of course, we see no reason why the Thunder can't. It's been done before.
The last time a team won a title with a rookie backup point guard was in 2005, when San Antonio defeated Detroit in seven games. The Spurs that year handed the responsibility of that role to then 22-year-old Beno Udrih. He averaged 11.5 minutes and one assist in the postseason, while scoring 3.7 points per game on 35.9 percent shooting.
Jackson's statistical production thus far — 3.5 points, 1.4 assists on 32.9 percent shooting in 11.4 minutes per game — has been nearly identical to Udrih's numbers from that playoff run.
No other team from the past 10 champions has trotted out a rookie backup point guard. But the Spurs used second-year man Speedy Claxton in 2001, and two other teams in that window had third-year players as their primary backups.
But for most teams chasing a championship, the backup point guard should be near the bottom of the list of concerns. Reserve point guards can help you win a game or a series, as we saw last season with former Dallas lightening bolt J.J. Barea. But rarely are they the reason you lose.
Defensive rebounding, turnovers and half-court offense are more pressing issues for the Thunder. Sure, the Thunder would prefer a veteran backup with a steady hand, especially with the erratic Russell Westbrook steering the ship as the starter. But history has proved that having a young backup point guard is by no means a death sentence.
There is no doubt the Thunder misses Maynor. He was magnificent at managing the second unit, controlling the flow of the game by playing with great pace and getting others easy baskets. Those things seemed to come natural, quickly establishing Maynor as one the league's best backup point guards.
What many failed to realize, though, (because the season was so young when he went down) is Maynor was having less of an impact this season. The emergence of James Harden as a playmaker and potent scorer in the second unit took the ball out of Maynor's hands and put more responsibility on Harden's shoulders. That trend figured to continue as the season played out, quashing Maynor's best qualities.