Tag Archives: Reggie Jackson

Thunder At A Glance: 04 December 2018

img_4063ESPN’s panel of basketball experts answered some questions in regards to the Western Conference: “I expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to be the second-best come May. Oklahoma City currently sports the West’s second-best differential behind the Denver Nuggets, and that’s despite Russell Westbrook missing eight games due to injury. The Thunder will still add stopper Andre Roberson to what’s already been the league’s best defense on a per-possession basis and have plenty of playoff experience.”

ESPN has OKC number 5 in their weekly power rankings: “The Thunder did exactly what they were supposed to in a light week, winning both games against the lowly Cavaliers and Hawks by a combined 32 points. They have now won 14 of 17 games to quietly inch closer to the top of the Western Conference. Paul George has been outstanding, averaging 25.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.6 APG and 3.0 combined steals and blocks during his last 10 games to keep the Thunder competitive even when Russell Westbrook has had to sit.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance: 04 December 2018

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Pistons vs. Thunder Preview (Preseason Game 1)

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  • When: Wednesday, 03 October 2018 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: None (Streamed at OKCThunder.com and the Thunder app)
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: -4.5 OKC

A journey has to start somewhere. And for the Oklahoma City Thunder, their journey into the 2018-19 season starts tonight. Thankfully, it’s at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in front of what should be a raucous home crowd. The Detroit Pistons come into town looking to kick-start their preseason docket of five games, and bring with them a pair of familiar faces. While Reggie Jackson will likely illicit some boos from the crowd, hometown boy Blake Griffin should receive the opposite.  Continue reading Pistons vs. Thunder Preview (Preseason Game 1)

Miss Me With That Westbrook Slander

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“Miss me with that bulls***”

Such a short statement in a long complex song. This quote, of course, is from the song “King’s Dead” by possibly the best rapper in the game currently, Kendrick Lamar.

There is something about the way that he begins the phrase.

Miss me”

It’s like he’s saying, “Take all the shots you want, but don’t come at me weak because you have no clue what you’re actually talking about.”

At least, that’s how I take it.

Now I’m not one to curse. Personally, I don’t see the point. But that’s neither here, nor there. So while I agree with what Mr. Lamar is saying, you won’t ever hear me say that statement. Instead, I have actually taken the concept and simplified it so that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Continue reading Miss Me With That Westbrook Slander

NTTB Podcast – Episode 40 (A Legend Will Be Born)

IMG_4109On Episode 40 of the NTTB podcast, we discuss the following topics:

  • UCLA Thunder runs
  • Abdel Nader’s contract guaranteed
  • Who’s starting at PF
  • PG Fishing event and shaved beard
  • Steven Adams putting Reggie Jackson on blast
  • Westbrook and Nina expecting
  • TLC’s performance for Team Africa
  • Vegas Over/Under odds
  • LeBron James vs. Donald Trump

Intro/Outro music provided by OSC Productions

Thank you for listening. We will be doing a podcast once a week. If you have any Thunder or NBA related questions, make sure you hit us up on Twitter (@alexroig_NTTB or @Montero_A13).

We are on ITunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Tune In under the NTTB Podcast. Make sure you leave us a 5-star review if you can. As always, Thunder Up!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/111153/768888-episode-40-a-legend-will-be-born.mp3?download=true

NTTB Thunder Rumblings – 02 August 2018

Torrey Hart (Yahoo Sports) on Kevin Durant doing Kevin Durant things.

(Complete sidebar: I love Twitter, but sometimes, when famous people “mobilize their stans” it can get ridiculous and almost threatening. This girl put out a tweet, KD responded knowing his followers would attack, and now there are people trying to hack into her account and threatening her. For as much as Kevin Durant talks of his disdain for Donald Trump, he sure does follow his Twitter formula.)

Colin Ward-Henninger (CBS Sports) grades every team’s offseason, and he rates the Thunder pretty high. Continue reading NTTB Thunder Rumblings – 02 August 2018

Daily Thunder Rumblings – 28 Sept 2017

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I asked Carmelo Anthony a question on the lack of media coverage on Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and this is his response (around 11:37 on the video). I urge my readers, whatever you can donate or give, please do. There 3.5 million AMERICANS that need your assistance on the island.

Vince Ellis (Detroit Free Press) on Reggie Jackson foreseeing the Paul George trade happening: “George and Jackson are good friends and share an agent in Aaron Mintz, who told both that the Thunder was a team to watch in the George sweepstakes. “We were actually on the video game when a few destinations popped up. I remember just joking with him, ‘There’s a sleeper in there,’ ” Jackson said. “Our agent kind of called it and he ended up there.” Continue reading Daily Thunder Rumblings – 28 Sept 2017

Good Riddance, Reggie Jackson

reggie Jackson pistons

Let me preface this by saying I wish Reggie Jackson nothing but the best in his future endeavors. He’s a part of the Oklahoma City Thunder family tree and will forever be linked to the organization one way or another. As is usually the case with break-ups that are other than amicable, the ugly details leading up to the split usually don’t become apparent until after the split is finalized.

Jackson’s season with the Thunder up until the trade deadline had been, in a word, underwhelming. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook missing games due to injuries in the beginning of the season, Jackson was tasked with leading the Thunder during that rough patch. Jackson actually did a commendable job in the absence of the superstar duo. Not only were Durant and Westbrook out, but other key contributors such as Perry Jones, Anthony Morrow, Jeremy Lamb, and Andre Roberson were also shuffling in and out of the line-up due to various injuries. In the 13 games in which both Durant and Westbrook missed, Jackson averaged 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 1.1 steals on 41.6% shooting from the field and 27% shooting from the 3-point line to go along with 4.7 free throw attempts per game. The numbers were very “Westbrookian,” but the team ended up with a 3-10 record during that stretch.

Despite the record, though, Jackson’s game showed signs of improvement from the previous season during that 13-game stretch. It was exciting to think of the prospects of Durant and Westbrook getting healthy and Jackson continuing this type of play. The feeling was that it would give the Thunder a 3-headed monster that hadn’t been seen since the days of James Harden. The Thunder, for as rough as the start of the season has been, would get healthier throughout the year and would, hopefully, form a sort of juggernaut that would be hard for teams to contain.

durant jackson thunder

Instead, Jackson’s play progressively tapered off from the first month of the season. He eschewed his bread and butter (driving to the basket) in favor of step back 20-footers and unreliable 3-point attempts. He waffled on defense, consistently getting beaten off the dribble and almost never putting forth the effort to recover. He visibly pouted on the court and the frustrations from his teammates grew as the season pushed on. In the 37 games after Westbrook returned from injury, Jackson, as a reserve, averaged only 10.2 points, 3.1 assists, and 3.6 rebounds on 44.3% shooting from the field and 28.4% shooting from deep, while only attempting 1.5 free throw attempts per game. His minutes dipped every month of the season, going from 38.2 in November to 28.4 in December to 21.1 in January and finally to 19.2 in February.

The writing on the wall became clearer when the Thunder traded for Dion Waiters in early January. There was no reason for the Thunder to trade for another high volume scorer/shooter if their intentions were to keep Jackson for the rest of the season. The minute Waiters joined the team, Jackson’s minutes took a hit and he was relegated to 8th or 9th man duties off the bench. The two bench scorers seemed to get in each other’s way when they were on the court together. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it was ineffective. Another sign was that Waiters and Morrow were closing close games out, instead of Jackson.

The Thunder knew there was a possibility this would happen. Starting from the end of last season, Jackson was not shy of letting his intentions be known that he wanted to not only start, but also to lead his own team. With that statement, Jackson basically drew a line in the sand. If this was a team that had any instability at the point guard position, that might have been an option. But the Thunder are as stable at point guard as they are at small forward. There was no possibility, outside of a catastrophic injury, that Jackson would leapfrog Westbrook on the depth chart. The organization gambled on the hope that the starting comment was actually a leverage play to get more money. But, apparently, Jackson really wanted the opportunity to lead his own team.

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On that merit alone, I do not fault Jackson. As recently as a couple weeks ago, I wrote an article outlining why Jackson may have been holding back. Some people are content with falling in line and playing their role. Others want to explore all the possibilities laid out in front of them. Jackson fell into the latter ilk. He wanted to see how far he could push himself, and that wasn’t going to happen as a reserve on the Thunder. So for that, I do understand Jackson’s stance.

Then the trade happened. At first, I was happy for Jackson. He would finally get his chance to lead his own team. And to boot, it was a pretty good team, with talented young teammates (Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). But then, honest Reggie had to open up his mouth, or Twitter account.

Really? Tears of joy? I understand finally getting your opportunity to prove yourself, but this tweet seems more apropos for something the ancient Israelites would say after they crossed the parted Red Sea lead by Moses. I mean, was Jackson caged in a dungeon and only allowed out to practice and play in games? Of course, Jackson then sent out 3 consecutive tweets thanking the community and the Thunder for his time in Oklahoma City. To me, the first tweet was much louder than the other three tweets that followed.

The worst part is that I actually like Reggie’s honesty. He was genuinely pained, and visibly upset, for the people of Moore when the tornado struck a couple years ago. He was visibly emotional after Game 4 of the Memphis series; a game in which Jackson single handedly kept the Thunder in the game and in the series. His honesty was a welcome antithesis to the manufactured answers most sports figures give in interviews. But, as Jackson showed, that honesty can cut both ways.

Then, Jackson played his first two games for the Pistons. And that’s when it really started bothering me. What we saw in those first two games with the Pistons was the Jackson from the beginning of the season and from last season. The Jackson that can put up 19 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 free throw attempts per game. The Jackson that could change a game with his ability to drive into the lane. That Jackson could have helped the Thunder immensely throughout this crazy season. Instead, we got 70% Reggie Jackson from December on. I understand wanting a change of scenery. But now I realize, I can’t respect the way Jackson did it. So for that, I say, good riddance Reggie Jackson.

Sifting through the rubble: A Thunder trading deadline postscript

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From the time I woke up on February 19th to about 1:30 PM CST, I was almost certain that a certain Brooklyn Nets 7-footer would be a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Speculation was abound that the Thunder and Nets had rekindled talks revolving around Brook Lopez, Kendrick Perkins, and Reggie Jackson. All the information leading up to about 12:30 PM CST was that it was basically a done deal and that the Nets were awaiting Oklahoma City’s approval. Then the chatter stopped.

Trades usually come at you one of two ways. The first way is like the trade in which the Thunder acquired Dion Waiters. It comes at you in an instant and you barely have time to react. The second way is like the Brook Lopez (non)trade. You hear the rumors and speculation leading up to the trade, and usually it gets done after that. But sometimes, the chatter stops prompting one of two thoughts: either the teams are working on the specifics of the deal or the deal has completely fallen through. In the case of Brook Lopez, it was the latter.

The rumors started that the Thunder were doing their due diligence and were looking at all their options. Around 1:45 PM CST, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Reggie Jackson had been traded to the Detroit Pistons. Apparently the Jackson move was the linchpin that was holding everything back in the league. Once Jackson was dealt, all hell broke loose. About 30 players were traded in a 10 minute span leading to the trading deadline. The trade deadline literally napalmed the entire league. And these weren’t end of the bench players. These were former All-Stars, talented players on rookie deals, a former Rookie of the Year, and game-changers. This trade deadline was definitely worth it.

When all the dust settled, four new players were slated to be in Thunder uniforms, while four others became former Thunder players. Here’s an overview of the two deals the Thunder made at the deadline.

Deal 1:

  • Oklahoma City received Enes Kanter and Steve Novak from Utah and DJ Augustin, Kyle Singer, and a 2019 2nd round pick from Detroit.
  • Utah received Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, the draft rights to Tibor Pleiss, and a 2017 lottery protected 1st round pick from Oklahoma City and a 2017 2nd round pick from Detroit.
  • Detroit received Reggie Jackson

The Jackson deal was actually a 3 team deal that also involved Kendrick Perkins and little used rookie forward Grant Jerrett. Jackson let his intentions be known at the end of last season and at training camp this season, that his main goal was to be a starter in the league. With Russell Westbrook in tow and Oklahoma City’s penchant for starting defensive minded, normal sized SG’s, the Thunder were never in a position to acquiesce to Jackson’s demands. As the trading deadline drew closer, Jackson’s agent, Aaron Mintz, asked the team to trade his client. From all the accounts, the locker room chemistry between Jackson and his teammates (specifically Kevin Durant and Westbrook) was reaching a boiling point of which there would be no returning from. The Thunder had to get a deal done and Detroit (and Utah) offered them the best deal in terms of known commodities.

dj augustin kyle singler pistons

I will say this. It was kind of hard to see Perkins go. On a team full of hares, Perkins was the tortoise. I know he was the bane of a lot of Thunder fans’ existences, but his effects on the team will be felt for years to come. He was the big brother on the team and he relished that role. When the younger players (to include Durant and Westbrook) had a bad day, they would usually turn to Perkins for advice. He was the protector of the inner sanctum. Only team members and a select few were allowed in their locker room (I’m looking at you, Joakim Noah). He made the team better defensively (don’t argue, just look up the stats), and toughened them up. Did he have his flaws? Of course. But he also personified the qualities that you and I take into our 9 to 5’s, and I for one, appreciated it.

Deal 2:

  • Oklahoma City received a protected 2016 2nd round pick from New Orleans.
  • New Orleans received Ish Smith, the draft rights to Latavious Williams, a 2015 protected 2nd round pick from Oklahoma City, and cash considerations.

The Thunder made this move to clear a roster spot for the incoming new players. The Thunder could have waived Smith, but his salary would have counted towards their final salary number of the team. With the team already being over the luxury tax, they didn’t want to add to the total amount they would have to pay to the league. Instead, New Orleans stepped in and took on Smith, who was subsequently waived.

When I look at the players the Thunder acquired, one word resonates in my mind: balance. This is the most balanced team the Thunder has ever yielded. You could argue that the 2011-12 team that made it to the NBA Finals was more balanced, but this team is more experienced. In the end, the Thunder lost a good player in Jackson and a team leader in Perkins, but got back so much more in depth and balance. The Thunder got back a true back-up point guard that can shoot, two sharp-shooters, and an offensively adept center that is only 22 years of age. In short, the Thunder got better.

Trade Winds – Oklahoma City and trade rumors

perkins jackson thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder have never been known to be big players at the trade deadline. In their 6 previous seasons in OKC, the Thunder rescinded one blockbuster deal (Tyson Chandler in 2009), used the pieces from the rescinded trade to salvage another one (Thabo Sefolosha in 2009), made another blockbuster deal in 2011 (Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green to Boston for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson in 2011) and acquired Ronnie Brewer from the New York Knicks for a 2nd round pick in 2012. Talk about living dangerously with that last one!

But this season seems different. The Thunder were already a part of a January mini-blockbuster trade that involved 3 teams, 4 players, and a first round pick that netted the Thunder Dion Waiters. And the Thunder still have enough assets to make another deal or two before Thursday’s trade deadline.

First off, what assets do the Thunder have?

  • The Untouchables – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Mitch McGary, Nick Collison, Anthony Morrow, and Dion Waiters.
  • Can be had for the right price – Reggie Jackson ($2.2 M) and Kendrick Perkins ($9.4 M)
  • Have at it, Philly – Jeremy Lamb ($2.2 M), Perry Jones ($1.13 M), Ish Smith ($861 K), and Grant Jerrett ($816 K)
  • Filler – 2015 2nd round pick and the draft rights to Tibor Pleiss, Alex Abrines, Josh Huestis, and Semaj Christon.

What do the Thunder need?

Outside shooting – The Thunder’s 3-point shooting percentage is a paltry 32.5%, good for 25th in the league. That percentage also ranks the lowest (by about 4 spots) of any teams that is currently slated in a playoff spot (to include New Orleans). The Thunder make about 7.4 3-pointers per game, which is tied for 15th in the league and ranks them ahead of only New Orleans and Memphis for Western Conference teams that in the playoff race. If that shooter can also be a plus on the defensive end, then that’s even better.

Interior scoring – The Thunder have never had a bona fide interior scorer. Someone they can dump the ball off to in the paint and know there’s a high percentage an easy shot will come out of it. The Thunder are tied with 2 other teams for 17th in the league in Point Per Shot (pps). What this means is that the Thunder are in the lower half of the league in getting easy baskets.

Luxury tax relief – The Waiters trade pushed the Thunder about $2.2 million dollars over the luxury tax line. Luckily, the Thunder have never been over the tax line and are in no risk of having to pay any repeater tax. The Thunder may be willing to remain above the tax line this season, or they could just as easily went to get back under the tax line before the deadline is over with.

5 Possible Deals the Thunder may make (All trades have been fact-checked with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine)

1. Thunder gets Brook Lopez / Brooklyn gets Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb, and Grant Jerrett 

lopez perkins nets thunder

This deal was already hinted at about three weeks ago. The Thunder appeared ready to make the deal, but the Nets hesitated, probably wanting to see if they could get a better deal. The Thunder get their interior presence (albeit an injury prone one with a player option for $16.7 million next season). Brooklyn gets what they are desperately coveting: luxury tax relief and an acceleration to rebuilding. The Nets are looking for a combination of expiring contracts, young players, and picks. But no one in the league is really looking to give up financial flexibility for a big man that is injury prone and due to make that much money next season.

2. Thunder gets Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans / Utah gets Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb, 2015 2nd round pick

If the Thunder are looking for an offensive big man, Kanter may be a cheaper option than Brook Lopez. In addition, the Thunder get some luxury tax relief in the process. Utah gets a veteran big man with an expiring contract to mentor Gobert and Favors and a young wing that needs playing time to blossom.

3. Thunder gets one of either Arron Afflalo/Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, and Memphis’ 2015 first round pick / Denver gets Kendrick Perkins, Reggie Jackson, and Jeremy Lamb

With Denver looking to build for the future, everyone on the team, save for Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris is likely on the table. OKC would love to get a 2-way wing that can either come off the bench, or immediately start if necessary. The Thunder have already experienced what happens in the playoffs when teams lay off their offensively challenged players and pack the paint. A long wing with the ability to knock down a jumper would be a great commodity to have moving forward. Denver would probably love to add Jackson to their young core. Jackson has been through playoff battles and appears eager to lead his own team.

4. Thunder gets Ian Mahimi and George Hill / Indiana gets Kendrick Perkins and Reggie Jackson

The Thunder get a more defensive minded back-up point guard with playoff experience that has knocked down big shots in the past. In addition they get a big that can give you something on the offensive end of the floor. Indiana gets a point guard that can, not only create for himself, but also create for others. In addition, they get a big with a $9 million dollar expiring contract.

5. Thunder gets under the luxury tax line, a Traded Player Exception, and a heavily protected 2nd rounder / Philadelphia gets any of Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones or Kendrick Perkins

The luxury tax. Why pay if you don’t have to? Philadelphia is about $13 million dollars under the the salary cap floor. If they want to avoid pay it, they may be willing to take on a player or two.

Final option (and highly likely):

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder

Stay put. Yeah, its an extremely boring option. But the Thunder, as currently constructed, are a championship contending team. Take away the injuries to the key players, and you have a team that would likely be in the thick of the Western Conference elite. They have a good mix of offense and defense, and only now appear to be putting it all together. Plus, Mitch McGary may be offensive big man the Thunder have been looking for. He’ll have his missteps in this his rookie season. But the kid oozes potential and brings a completely different dynamic to the team. It’ll be a crazy 24-48 hours from here on out. It could be a roller coaster or it could be a drive to the local Wal-Mart. Just make sure you buckle up.

Reggie Jackson and the ghost of Eric Maynor

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Have you ever started watching a movie thinking it was your first time watching it. But then halfway through, you realize you’ve either already seen the movie before or have caught parts of it playing somewhere else? It’s happened to me plenty of times. Someone suggests a movie to me and I find on Netflix or RedBox and start watching it. Then I realize that I’ve seen parts of the movie playing on USA or TNT on a slow weekend afternoon in the past.

The Reggie Jackson situation with the Oklahoma City Thunder has caused me to seek a comparable situation. Everybody always wants to rush to the Jackson:James Harden comparison. A great 6th man combo guard with the talent and skill set to start in the NBA, but in a situation that doesn’t allow him to be a consistent starter on his current team. Also, in both situations, the players were coming up on their first contract extensions. With Harden, Thunder coach Scott Brooks felt more comfortable with Harden coming off the bench and liked the defensive presence Thabo Sefolosha provided in the starting line-up. With Jackson, the situation is more positional. When you have one of the top 10 players in the world ahead of you on the depth chart, there’s not much you can do other than waiting (wishing, hoping) for an injury to occur. Not saying that Jackson would do that. With the same coach and coaching philosophies in tow, the off-guard position was given to another perimeter defender in Andre Roberson. Jackson, like Harden before him, wants to be a starter in the league. And like Harden, Jackson wants to get paid his market value. But that is where the similarities ends.

Say what you will about the Harden trade, but recent leaked stories have confirmed the trade had as much to do with the finances and future flexibility of the team as it did with Harden wanting a bigger role (either on the Thunder or on another team). With the Thunder unable to promise Harden a bigger role (likely as a starter), and with the possibility of Harden getting, not only a max deal, but a super max deal from another team, the wheels were put into motion to get the trade done. If the Thunder would have been willing to promise Harden the bigger role and possibly a max or near max contract, there’s no telling whether Harden would still be wearing a Thunder jersey.

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

That is not the situation with Jackson. Russell Westbrook is one of the top point guards in the league. There is no way, barring injuries, of course, that Jackson is going to supplant Westbrook for that position on the team. And the team’s philosophy of having a defender/normal sized SG next to Westbrook kind of negates the possibility of Jackson consistently starting for the team. So where does that leave Jackson? He sees himself as a starter in this league, but doesn’t have a starting spot on this team to aim towards. He knows that his body of work up to this point almost guarantees him a sizable contract. He knows that he has a place as a starter and a nice contract coming up somewhere other than Oklahoma City. So then why does it seem like he is dogging it this season?

The answer may lie in the only player whose situation compares to Jackson’s more than Harden. In the 2011 NBA playoffs, the Thunder made a surprising run all the way to the Western Conference Finals. The No. 1 seeded Spurs were upset by the upstart Grizzlies in the first round, and the No. 4 seeded Thunder won their first playoff series, defeating the Denver Nuggets 4-1. This set-up an epic 7-game series with the Grizzlies in the 2nd round. After a back and forth series, Russell Westbrook’s triple-double in Game 7 proved to be too much for Memphis as the Thunder rolled into the Western Conference Finals. Awaiting them in the 3rd round was the veteran Dallas Mavericks.

The experienced Mavericks went on to defeat the Thunder 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals. That much was expected. Experience usually trumps naivete. What wasn’t expected was how the Thunder won their only game in the series. In Game 2, the Thunder were nursing a 1 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Thunder coach Scott Brooks substituted Eric Maynor in for Westbrook for the last 32 seconds of the third quarter, in what was Westbrook’s normal rest time in the 2nd half. Up to that point, Westbrook had played a typical Westbrook game: 18 points on 7-15 shooting, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 turnovers. He was a bit erratic defensively, but really, it was a game that was par for the course for Westbrook.

In the 4th quarter though, Eric Maynor, along with the rest of the bench mob (James Harden, Nick Collison, and Daequan Cook) teamed up with Kevin Durant to hold on to that one point lead and win the game by 6. The talk after the game was not of how Durant led the team to victory, but of how Maynor controlled the flow of the game in that 4th quarter and made the right plays almost every time down the floor.

When the season ended for the Thunder, there was an excitement for the future of the team. They had a developing nucleus, not just in the starting line-up, but also on the bench. Maynor was getting lauded with talk of being “the best back-up point guard in the league,” and “a young, up and coming floor general”. With all that talk, the Thunder knew they had an asset on their hand. They drafted a developmental point guard by the name of Reggie Jackson in that year’s draft in hopes that Jackson would eventually replace Maynor on the bench. The Thunder knew their core was Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Serge Ibaka. Anything past those four players was considered an asset to be flipped.

As the Thunder entered the next season, the word title contender was being tossed around. One of the reasons for that thought was the strong bench the Thunder brought into every game. Nine games into the season though, in a game in Houston, Maynor drove to the basket in the 4th quarter when his knee buckled. He went down in a heap and had to be carried off the court. A day later he learned his fate: a torn ACL that would keep him out the rest of the season.

maynor injury thunder

After the injury, Maynor was never the same. His game suffered as the little bit of athleticism that he had was sapped by the injury. He struggled to recover  and eventually lost his back-up job to Jackson. As the season wore on, the inevitable became more and more clear: Eric Maynor was no longer a part of the Thunder’s future. They evetually traded him to the Portland Trailblazers at the trade deadline for a Traded Player Exception and the rights to Greek player Georgios Printezis. In all likelihood, the injury probably cost Maynor tens of millions of dollars. Within two years of the injury, Maynor was out of the league.

Fast forward to the end of last season. Jackson had a great regular season as a starter for Westbrook when he was out for almost half the season and as a 6th man when Westbrook returned. Then in the playoffs, Jackson single-handedly won what was basically an elimation game for the Thunder in Game 4 of their first round series against the Grizzlies. In the West Conference Finals, Jackson started in place of an ineffective Sefolosha for the final four games of the series. After the season, Jackson was anointed with the tags “best back-up point guard in the league” and “could probably start for 10-12 teams right now.” It seemed like deja vu for the Thunder all over again. Except this time, the team actually wanted to keep their back-up point guard. To this day, though, Jackson has not reciprocated that same feeling towards the Thunder.

Now, the player that took over for Maynor two years ago, is likely hoping to avoid the same fate that befell his predecessor. Players learn from experiences and think about their futures just like you and I think about ours. That their futures include a couple more zeroes on their paychecks than ours do is inconsequential. Athletes know that their worth is only as good as their product (play/health). If the health aspect of that goes away, then the player is viewed as a risky asset, which usually means much less money. So while it doesn’t necessarily excuse Jackson’s play of late, I do understand where he may be coming from. We talk about athletes all the time like they’re robots, but in reality, these guys are humans that pessimistically think about their futures just like you or I.