Weight: 208 pounds
Position: Point Guard
Years in NBA: 10
Key Stats: 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 0.6 steals in 23 minutes per game across 67 games played (43 started) on 45/43.3/81.7 shooting splits (57.6 TS%) in the 2021 regular season
17.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 0.9 steals in 32.7 minutes per game across 19 games played (17 started) on 48.4/40.8/87.8 shooting splits (62.6 TS%) in the 2021 playoffs
Contract Status: In the first year of a 2 year, $21.6M deal making $10.4M this year
Coming off a solid 2021 regular season and an otherworldly playoff run, Reggie Jackson was rewarded with a two year, $21.6M deal this offseason to keep him in a Clippers’ jersey. Reggie is projected to be the Clippers’ starting point guard during the 2022 season, even after the acquisition of former Clips’ guard Eric Bledsoe a few weeks back.
The expectations for Reggie Jackson are fairly simple, but also might be a bit high. With Kawhi Leonard out for much if not all of the season, Reggie will be asked to steer the Clippers’ offense as Paul George’s co-pilot. With Lou Williams gone, Reggie will likely have to be the Clippers’ second scorer (and playmaker) behind George, a big role increase after Reggie was a bench player and fill-in starter during his first two seasons on the Clips. Reggie will be asked to hit open threes, run the offense (especially when George is off the floor), create shots for others via downhill attacks, and score on his own. In short, Reggie has a lot to do, and if the Clippers exceed expectations this year, Reggie will probably be a big reason why.
Fascinatingly, Reggie Jackson’s biggest strength was on of his biggest weaknesses in his early years in the NBA: three-point shooting. Over his first two seasons in Oklahoma City, Jackson shot 22% from deep on a paltry 1.5 attempts per game. He was a non-threat. Over his next few seasons in Detroit, he worked his way up to being a league average shooter on a decent volume. And then, finally, in the past three years across both Detroit and Los Angeles, Reggie has become an excellent three-point shooter on fairly high volume. Most importantly, Reggie is a marksman from the top of the key and the wings, not just the corners, and has developed a pull-up game (though he’s still better off the catch). This makes him a perfect fit as an off-ball player next to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, though he will presumably receive less of those shots next year as he will be handling the ball more with Kawhi out.
Just as critically, Reggie was the one Clippers’ guard last year (until Terance Mann surged down the stretch) outside of Lou Williams at times who was able to get to the rim. Nearly 19% of his shots were taken from 0-3 feet, and another 17% were in the 3-10 foot range. Reggie’s ability to blow by defenders on the perimeter and get the defense collapsing or into rotation was invaluable, especially in the playoffs against the Jazz, when he repeatedly waltzed by Utah’s perimeter defenders and forced Rudy Gobert to commit to him, facilitating switches and scrambled defenses. While Eric Bledsoe should help somewhat in the halfcourt creation element, Reggie’s drives to the rim will still be important for the Clippers.
And, speaking of the Jazz, Reggie’s playoff performance has to count for something. Sure, he was on a heater that is not replicable. And sure, it’s a small sample size anyway. But when the Clippers needed him most, Reggie Jackson stepped up huge, and that’s something that can’t just be brushed away. The Clippers know they can rely on Reggie when the chips are down.
Finally, by all accounts, Reggie has been a great locker room presence for the Clippers. He’s a very close friend of Paul George, which helps, but he seems beloved by teammates and has earned plaudits for his cheerfulness and positivity.
Reggie’s biggest weakness is probably on the defensive end. He’s not atrocious there, but he’s far from good. His stature means he can’t switch onto larger wings (see Doncic, Luka), and he’s not quick enough to keep up with the speediest point guards. In lineups with the likes of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nic Batum, and Terance Mann, Reggie is therefore frequently the soft spot that opposing offenses attack. It’s not all bad – Reggie tries hard and generally knows where to be in the context of a team defense – but his defense won’t get any better, and he’s already pretty bad there.
The other big drawback with Reggie is decision-making. He has a ton of confidence, which is great, but that can also lead to terrible pull-up threes in transition when his team has an advantage, or a possession that’s just him dribbling for 15 seconds before chucking a shot. His first half-season with the Clippers it seemed he could never execute on fastbreaks, and that was all tied to his decision-making.
Similarly, Reggie’s not a great playmaker. He can run a pick and roll, and get the offense into sets, but he will rarely manipulate a defense in the way that truly great playmakers do. The Clippers haven’t needed him to do that, because Kawhi and Paul George are cheat codes on offense, but if the Clippers ask too much of Reggie as a playmaker, there’s a chance things could go sideways. Really, my guess is that George is the one who really steps up, but things could get… interesting if Reggie’s playmaking is relied upon too heavily.
Reggie Jackson is lined up to have a big season with the Clippers, and could further his reputation as a Clippers’ legend if the Clippers overperform on expectations. However, there’s also a lot of pressure on Reggie, and it’s possible there’s some backlash if he doesn’t live up to his increased role. His shooting, confidence, and good vibes will be there, but can he sustain an entire season as a second or third option with no Kawhi Leonard? It remains to be seen, but hopefully Reggie has a strong 2022 season and helps keep the Clips afloat with Kawhi Leonard out.