Reggie Jackson started for the Oklahoma City Thunder in Games 3 through 6 of the Western Conference Finals, and apparently he's already gotten used to the feel. According to The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry, the versatile guard would like to remain in the starting lineup:
Jackson: "I'd like to be a starter. I'm not going to lie.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) June 1, 2014
Reggie Jackson on whether he'll remain a starter: "I don't know. I get paid to play, not coach."— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) June 1, 2014
Jackson was inserted into the lineup in place of shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha. Oklahoma City was looking to inject more scoring into the rotation. Sefolosha—a defensive specialist—finished the series with a total of just two points and 34 minutes.
The adjustment initially paid big dividends, with Jackson putting up 15 points and five assists in Game 3. As The Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson notes, "As good as Westbrook and Durant were offensively in the two games in Oklahoma City, they were helped a bunch by their helpers. Ibaka and Jackson put up big numbers in Game 3, then several players hit timely shots in Game 4."
The other consideration in making the lineup adjustment was Jackson's history against the San Antonio Spurs in particular. During the regular season, the third-year guard Boston College product averaged 21.3 points in four games against San Antonio.
He tallied 11.8 points per contest in the conference finals, including a strong 21-point performance in Game 6.
Jackson was held to just 13 minutes in Game 4 on account of a rolled ankle that sent him to the locker room. He was able to start for Game 5.
Though he's primarily a point guard, Jackson certainly has the scorer's mentality needed to play shooting guard. For that matter, so does starting point guard Russell Westbrook. The idea of them playing together as a couple of combo guards isn't especially controversial and may make some sense going forward.
Should the Thunder start Jackson next season?
On the other hand, there's a logic to the team doing what got it this far. Though Sefolosha himself is a free agent this summer, the Thunder may prefer to have a stopper in the starting lineup to take some of the pressure off of Kevin Durant on the defensive end. Without someone like Sefolosha around, Durant immediately becomes responsible for guarding the other team's best wing player.
Jackson isn't a bad defender by any means, but at 6'3", he doesn't have the length to challenge many of the league's best swingmen.
There's also value in having a scoring-minded sixth man inject some life into the second unit. Oklahoma City's bench production suffered dramatically in Jackson's absence.
With good arguments on both sides, this reasons to be one of many decisions the Thunder have to make between now and the 2014-15 campaign. Good as this team has been, it will make changes if need be. Its ultimate goal remains unrealized, and until that changes, just about anything's on the table.