Reggie Jackson sees your crazy Wednesday night shot-making, Avery Bradley, and he raises you this shot-clock-beating bit of nonsense:
I didn't realize Jackson's shorts were large enough to pull shots like that out of his rectum. Must be XXLs.
While that third-quarter-closing flip was a pretty lucky break for young Reggie, the Boston College product's recent prosperity has had much more to do with work — as in, the work he's put in to become one of the league's premiere backup point guards over the past two seasons, and the work he's been giving opposing defenders during the winning streak that the Oklahoma City Thunder extended with a 97-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. Jackson chipped in 13 points on 5 for 10 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in the win to continue the recent trend, according to Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman:
He’s been fantastic during this entire eight-game win streak (13.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists in 24.5 minutes a night), but particularly of late and specifically during the fourth quarter. In three of the last four games (against the Spurs, Wolves and Kings), Jackson has played the entire fourth. In those 36 minutes, he’s a combined 13-of-15 shooting for 30 points. And you can see his confidence growing by the minute. A quick example of that came Tuesday: After Jackson blew by Marcus Thornton on a drive in the fourth quarter, he turned to the Thunder bench and yelled, ‘He can’t guard me man’, basically pleading the staff to keep exploiting that matchup. Then, seconds later, after Jason Thompson received a technical, Jackson turned around and started heading toward the free throw line. Kevin Durant was on the court, so Kevin Durant was always going to cash in that free point. But the fact that Jackson thought he should take the shot speaks volumes (Related: Jackson is 24-of-26 from the line this year, an impressive 92 percent).
Jackson's impact is apparent when you look how the Thunder have played with him on the court and off it, which they've done in nearly equal measure thus far this season (385 with Jackson on the court, 393 minutes with him on the bench).
When Jackson's in the lineup, Oklahoma City has outscored opponents by a staggering 18.5 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com's stat tool; they've scored at a more efficient clip than the No. 1-ranked Houston Rockets offense and allowed fewer points per possession than any team other than the Indiana Pacers, who have been historically stingy thus far this season. When Jackson has sat, the Thunder have been outscored by 6.8 points-per-100, which would slot them in between the horrendous New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets for the NBA's fifth-worst efficiency differential; their offense plummets from world-beating to Chicago-Bulls-approximating, and their defense eases up to Knicksian levels.
He's also part of OKC's five best five-man units that have played more than 20 minutes together, including two lineups — Jackson-Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook-Serge Ibaka-Thabo Sefolosha and Jackson-Durant-Nick Collison-Steven Adams-Jeremy Lamb — that have completely blown opponents' doors off on both ends of the floor in their (very) limited minutes. Absent from both configurations? Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher, which feels instructive ... although, to be fair, Perk plus KD-Serge-Reggie-Thabo has been OKC's third-best lineup (and a real meat-grinder on defense), while Fisher shows up in Nos. 4 (with KD-Ibaka-Jackson-Westbrook) and 5 (with Jackson-Collison-Adams-Lamb).
Whether Thunder coach Scott Brooks continues to go with those youngster-heavy lineups throughout the season and into the playoffs remains to be seen, but if he does, it'll be due in large part to increasing confidence in Jackson's ability to serve as both a secondary playmaker on the ball and a legitimate attacking threat off it. The strong play of Jackson — and sophomore shooting guard Lamb, who has shaken off a up-and-down start to the season to average 10.5 points on 50.7 percent shooting, including a 42.3 percent mark from 3-point land, in 22.3 minutes per game during OKC's winning streak — has given Brooks some leeway with still-rounding-into-form point guard Russell Westbrook, allowing him to ease off the All-Star's minutes a bit as he gets back to speed following his knee surgery without completely submarining the Thunder's non-Durant playmaking.
It's still early, of course, and you'd like to see Jackson cut down on his turnovers — especially in transition, where he's coughed it up 11 times in 33 possessions used, according to Synergy Sports Technology's game-charting data — but he's been very solid in the early going, making it more likely that we'll see the ball in his hands more often as the season progresses. I'm guessing we won't see too many more finishes like this one, though; nobody's that lucky.
Video via Daily Thunder.
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