Today, we’re putting together a season preview for Reggie Jackson, continuing our annual tradition of going player-by-player through the Clippers’ roster to break down expectations.
Weight: 208 lbs.
Years in NBA: 9
Key Stats: In 17 appearances for the Clippers last season, averaged 9.5 points, 3.2 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game, shooting 45.3% from the field and 41.3% from deep. In the playoffs, played 14.2 minutes per game in 12 appearances, averaging 4.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.9 assists while shooting 43.8% from the field and 53.1% from deep.
Contract Status: Signed a one year, minimum-salary deal to stay with the Clippers.
Although he might not have the “prominent” role suggested in the initial reporting of his re-signing, Reggie actually should play quite a bit for the Clippers this season on the 2.5 string–not quite a primary backup, but someone who will regularly feature in the 10-man rotation due to absences in front of him. If we look at LAC’s depth chart, it’s easy to see where Jackson will likely slot in:
|Point Guard||Patrick Beverley||Lou Williams||Reggie Jackson|
|Shooting Guard||Paul George||Luke Kennard||Terance Mann|
|Small Forward||Kawhi Leonard||Nicolas Batum||Amir Coffey|
|Power Forward||Marcus Morris||Patrick Patterson||Mfiondu Kabengele|
|Center||Ivica Zubac||Serge Ibaka||Daniel Oturu|
Sure, if everyone is healthy on opening night, Jackson might not play. But Patrick Beverley is notoriously injury-prone, and Jackson figures to be first choice to get spot starts at point guard. If Williams or Kennard are unavailable on the second unit, Jackson will join the second unit as an offensive creator off the bench–and Kennard’s absence on the second unit could be frequent, not only due to his own injury history but because he figures to slide into the starting lineup whenever Paul George or Kawhi Leonard are injured or rest for load management.
Jackson’s job description should be pretty much built around those potential rotation gaps over the course of a campaign that is not only 72 games long but features an accelerated schedule. As a minimum-salary player in a depth role, we should have limited expectations as to his impact… which is probably well suited to his abilities at this stage of his career. Just be available, be solid enough for regular-season minutes, and hopefully don’t be needed when the playoffs role around.
This is, um, hard. Maybe the best way to describe Reggie’s contributions to the team is that he doesn’t bring specific strengths so much as he brings all-around shaky play that’s just a little bit less shaky and more consistent than your typical minimum-salary point guard. He definitely brings more to the table offensively than defensively, though the effort will be there to be passable in regular-season minutes, especially flanked by the Clippers’ all-league defenders on the wing.
The truth is, though, that as I discussed above the minutes load for LAC’s 11th man this season could be significant. Jackson’s main strength–and the reason why the team retained him–is that he’s more experienced and dependable for that role than a younger, less proven player.
Reggie’s weaknesses are the reason he was available for a minimum deal and a third-string role. A high-usage and middling-efficiency offensive player throughout his career, Jackson has had struggles with decision-making. As injuries have hampered his explosiveness, the decision-making hasn’t improved, resulting in turnovers and lots of heavily-guarded floaters. As a spot-up shooter, he thrived with the Clippers last season, but has shot just 33.7% from deep for his career, so it’s likely that some of his weaknesses will become more glaring when he’s no longer making half of his threes.
His defensive issues honestly might be a little overstated, to be fair. Doc Rivers rather inexplicably gave Jackson a lot of burn guarding Luka Doncic in the NBA playoffs, particularly late in games. Luka is one of the most gifted offensive players in the league, and Jackson is… an adequate second-unit defender. So I’m putting defense in the weakness column for Jackson, but it’s worth noting that smarter strategy would make that weakness far less exposed than it was last season.
Overall, the Clippers have in Reggie Jackson one of the best third-string point guards in the league–but not much more than that. We’ll see plenty of him this season but the less we see of him, the better it will be for the team, as his time on the bench will be heavily correlated with their primary rotation players staying healthy.