As Oklahoma City has won its last nine games, Reggie Jackson has emerged as its potent scorer off the bench. Playing as a reserve, Jackson is averaging 25 minutes per game, contributing almost 13 points, four boards and 3.4 assists per game on 49 percent shooting.
The third-year guard played a monumental part in the Thunder's win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. Jackson scored 21 points in 30 minutes, dished out four assists and collected three rebounds. He was nearly untouchable, cleverly navigating the paint, finishing an array of flip shots and connecting on spot-up opportunities.
Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant wasn't shy after the game about his thoughts on his teammate.
KD on Reggie Jackson: "That guy is unbelievable man. The stuff he does, shots he makes...Not too many people in this league like him."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 22, 2013
Jackson, 23, won't receive an All-Star nod this season, but that's mighty high praise from his coach and a testament to Jackson's ceiling. The third-year guard has taken a leap this season with a 10-minute uptick in playing time. He's doubled-up on scoring and assists per game and he's posting a career-high PER (17.7) and true shooting percentage (56.6 percent), per Basketball-Reference.
Trading James Harden in 2012 left a gigantic scoring hole on Oklahoma City's bench, but the Thunder have recovered better than most realize. Last year, Kevin Martin admirably filled that role, and this year, Jackson has been even better. Look at how the numbers compare.
Harden shot and connected on more three-pointers and he got the free-throw line at a much higher rate in 2011-12, but Jackson's scoring isn't far off and he's just as good a facilitator and rebounder. Jackson is also much better defender than the sometimes-aloof Harden, even when Harden was giving more effort back in 2011-12.