When the Rockets selected Nikola Mirotic 23rd for the Bulls, I couldn’t believe it. Jordan Hamilton, the player I thought was almost too perfect of a fit for Oklahoma City and a player I thought the Thunder would have to trade up to get, was available.
Waiting for the Thunder was a 6-9 swingman with awesome range, a great touch and the ability to play three positions. OKC was going to have a nice bench scoring threat fall into its lap.
And then David Stern called Reggie Jackson’s name.
Jackson, a point guard from Boston College, really doesn’t have a place on the roster right now. With Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor and Nate Robinson, adding a fourth point guard didn’t strike me as all that necessary. There were rumblings earlier that this pick could be a preemptive move surrounding Maynor’s uncertain future, but I don’t buy that. Presti picked Jackson because he likes him.
(With Maynor, I understand that Maynor might not be here long term. I’ve written and talked about that before. But Maynor still has two years on his contact with the Thunder. That’s a lot of time. Cross that bridge when it comes. Maybe Maynor walks in two years, but I don’t think that necessarily had an affect on this pick. It was more about depth I presume and adding a versatile guy to help strengthen the bench. Don’t assume that just because OKC took Jackson that Maynor is out. Presti said last night that he “anticipates having him with us for a very long time.” If anything, it might have more of an effect on Daequan Cook’s upcoming contract. And Nate Robinson is long gone at some point, but we already knew that. )
I’m sort of talking myself into this pick though. Jackson is incredibly athletic, can shoot a little and has an insane wingspan (almost seven feet). It’s entirely possible the Thunder drafted him as a combo guard, with the idea that Jackson can evolve into a Westbrook-ish hybrid point-shooting guard.
Now keep in mind, this wasn’t a lottery pick. We’re talking about adding a piece to an already excellent team that has a pretty settled 10-man rotation. Whoever the Thunder took wasn’t going to impact things in a huge way. Still, good players are to be had in the late first round. Serge Ibaka was taken 24th.
At the same time, look at who the Thunder passed over for Jackson. The aforementioned Hamilton. Or Marshon Brooks, who if OKC wanted scoring punch, is probably a better solution. Jackson was seen as more of a fit and here’s where I say, who am I to doubt Presti? He has a pretty good record of doing his job well. And he went so far as to promise Jackson a spot? Hard to argue with that confidence in a guy.
Jackson doesn’t make a ton of sense because he doesn’t exactly alleviate any needs. But then again, what are the real “needs” for this team? The Thunder have a settled starting five (sort of, assuming James Harden starts) and a sturdy bench. No matter what, I preferred Hamilton because he’s got more talent and I think his scoring ability would’ve had more value in the long run, but nothing says Jackson can’t turn into a solid pick. Presti isn’t shy about reaching out on a potential guy. It worked for Serge Ibaka. It didn’t (so far) for Byron Mullens. Who knows where Jackson will fall in that world.
He’s got ability. He can play. Is he a fit? Not at all, especially within the current structure of the roster. But the Thunder can afford to reach on talent right now. Like I said, this pick wasn’t likely going to affect the win-loss column a whole lot next year. It’s about always keeping the cupboard full of talent. That’s been the Presti mindset since he took over the job in 2007 and he wants the Thunder program to stay stocked with good young players. And Jackson certainly fits in that regard.
It’s a bit confusing in the sense that now the Thunder have four point guards under contract and that maybe there were better fits on the board. But Presti values versatility like it’s gold and Jackson definitely has that.
Plus, as one commenter put it, at least it’s not Kyle Singler.
Draft Grade - B: Hard to hit a home run picking 24th, especially when you’re a team that’s not really in need of a specific thing. The Thunder went for talent and versatility and found it in Jackson. Not the most striking pick as now OKC as four points, but it’s one that might be worth the limited risk involved, especially if Jackson pans out and fulfills some of that potential.