Surely you’ve seen the 5-on-5 series on ESPN.com. Well, it’s branching out (and by out, I mean down) to the TrueHoop Network. Three questions, three answers. Pretty simple.
We haven’t seen him play yet, other than 10 meaningless minutes in a charity game. But Reggie Jackson, the Thunder’s first-round pick this year, is a bit of a mystery man. Nobody knows exactly where he’s going to play, what his role will be, how much he’ll play or if he was taken as a future replacement for an existing player. Is he trade bait? Just Sam Presti taking a gifted player to develop? What’s the plan with Reggie Jackson, you know, when there’s a season?
1. Will Reggie Jackson be a rotation player this season?
Royce Young, Daily Thunder: No, but I think he’s going to get a chance to play a little. It’s easier to work in a player like Jackson for short spurts than it is some of the Thunder’s other project players. I’m not sure exactly what role Sam Presti is envisioning for him yet, but whether it’s a third point guard or scoring combo guard off the bench, Jackson won’t be in Scott Brooks’ automatic nine-man rotation, but he’ll see some time.
Patrick James, Daily Thunder: No, barring injury to a rotation player. Jackson is likely to be in a similar situation to Cole Aldrich last year. There are too many experienced and talented players ahead of him to get significant time for now. Who are you going to sit so Jackson gets enough minutes to be meaningful: Russell Westbrook or Eric Mayor or Daequan Cook? In that situation, he’s better off getting significant minutes in the D-League than a few cameos here and there with the Thunder.
Jax Raging Bile Duct, DT Comment Section: In a perfect world? No. In a world where injuries happen and new CBAs force the hand of GMs to trade contracts? Yes. But I’m an optimist, so I’m going with no.
Royce Young: Any time your team gets a near player, you have the highest of hopes for him. Remember Cole Aldrich? I thought he was going to be the best defensive player in league history 10 minutes after the Thunder traded for him. But a good season for Jackson would be to get a little NBA experience while honing his game in Tulsa. Speaking reasonably, 20 appearances would be good.
Patrick James: If Jackson is a true standout player during his D-League stints, that would be great news for the Thunder. It would be amazing if he can make a significant contribution to the Thunder this year, but because that would mean somebody in front of him got hurt (or traded), so let’s just not go there. But if Jackson shows a strong work ethic and developing point guard skills in Tulsa, that’s fantastic for the Thunder’s depth going forward.
Jax Raging Bile Duct: Immediately after the draft I expected Reggie to get about 350 minutes this season. But now that games are cancelled, I don’t know what to think. In a world where they shove way too many games into a shortened season because of the late date of a new CBA, I could see Reggie playing in the rotation simply due to the fact that you have to play someone with fresh legs in the 5th game in 6 days. However, Reggie won’t have a training camp or preseason under his belt. He won’t even have a member of the coaching staff help him go over the offense. I doubt he has any film to study. So throwing him into an NBA game in a drastic situation such as an injury or fatigue isn’t going to show us much. The only thing we can reasonably expect from him in that situation is hustle and effort on defense and to try to move the ball on offense. Unfortunately for Reggie, this season is nearly a waste for him (if it even happens). I would love to be able to predict some sort of stat-line, but given the situation, I don’t know how to do such a thing without taking a wild stab in the dark.
3. Draft do-over: We haven’t really seen him yet, but would you still take Jackson?
Royce Young: Yes, but that’s just because I’ve spent the last six months talking myself into it. Immediately after his name was called, I was disappointed OKC didn’t take Jordan Hamilton. KD needed a backup and the Thunder needed scoring punch off the bench, especially if Harden’s starting. Hamilton made sense. Not a fourth point guard. But Jackson could be a very versatile player and be that scorer off the bench. Plus, I’m pretty much trusting Sam Presti blindly at this point.
Patrick James: Yes, at least unless a DeJuan Blair emerges from the second round picks. I can’t find anyone who would be a no-doubt better fit for the Thunder when you look at a list of the players drafted after Jackson. Surely one could emerge, as Blair has for the Spurs. It would be nice to get a true backup for Kevin Durant, but there was no sure thing among the swingmen left when Sam Presti selected Jackson. Presti gets the benefit of the doubt that Jackson was the best fit for Oklahoma City at the time.
Jax Raging Bile Duct: I like the pick. I think Reggie is just as proven a commodity as anyone drafted after him, injury aside, and his potential is just as high as anyone drafted after him as well. Going into the draft I couldn’t name any real roster need the Thunder had, so I expected a project or a player to be stashed in Europe. I can’t imagine any rookie outside of the lottery finding a way to play in a 10 man rotation that our staff really wishes was 9 in the first place. So I can’t think of anyone I would have rather had because all the picks would be in the same position. And like I said, as far as talent and potential goes, he has as much as anyone chosen after him.