Our exit interview series at 213 Hoops continues with a look at the 2022 season of Clippers’ starting point guard Reggie Jackson.

Basic Information

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 208 pounds

Position: Point Guard

Age: 32

Years in the NBA: 11

Key Stats: 16.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 0.7 steals in 31.1 minutes per game across 75 games played on 39.2% shooting from the field (43.9% on 2s), 32.8% on threes (6.8 attempts), and 84.7% from the free throw line (2.2 attempts) for a 48.8 TS%.

Expectations

Reggie Jackson was expected to be the co-scoring second banana to Paul George (alongside Marcus Morris) and second ball-handler (behind PG) for the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard after his excellent 2021 playoff run and the trade of Pat Beverley. Statistically, scoring in the mid to high teens with a handful of assists on decent efficiency and good off-ball shooting playing off George would probably have been the average prediction for Reggie’s production preseason. Reggie was also expected to be a leader in the locker room, a joyous presence on the court and fan favorite, and someone who would hit big shots for the Clippers.

Reality

Well, some of those expectations came to reality. Reggie did average numbers similar to those predicted. He did continue to endear himself to the fanbase with clutch shotmaking, his unique on court presence and personality, and overall reliability. However, almost none of that came as Paul George’s sidekick. Instead, as PG missed well over half the year, Reggie Jackson took the reins of the offense, serving as the team’s lead scorer and playmaker for most of the 2022 season. The results were fairly good overall production, but on horrible scoring efficiency – Reggie is simply not cut out to be the lead option on a team, and is probably better served as the third or even fourth option. When teams could focus in on stopping him, they were largely able to do so, as Reggie was barely able to get to the line and settled increasingly for stepback jumpers with no other options.

There was other weirdness, as well. Paul George was by no means the only Clipper to miss significant time, as Terance Mann was the lone Clipper to play more than 80 games, and only six logged more than 60. Players going in and out of the rotation and lineup due to injury, poor play, and trades meant for a constant learning and adaptative experience, which was difficult for everyone, but especially so for Reggie, who had to learn different player and lineup tendencies all year. The start of the year was also an adjustment, as Ty Lue (confusingly to this day) started Reggie and Eric Bledsoe together in a two-guard alignment alongside Paul George, reducing the ball-handling loan of each player and cramping spacing. In short, even outside of being overburdened as the first option, this was a year with many oddities and hindrances for Reggie.

All that said, Reggie played his heart out. He led the team in minutes played (by 20 over Terance Mann), scoring (1263 total points, with Mann next at just 872), and assists (359, with the departed Bledsoe at 225). He incredibly took nearly twice as many shots as the next closest Clippers combined, hurling 1222 attempts compared to 691 for Marcus Morris and 690 for Mann. And while some of those were the usual ill-advised Reggie heat checks, on many possessions there were genuinely no better options. Reggie had to shoot that much for the Clippers to score, and, somehow, they were able to secure a winning record at 42-40. Despite the hideous efficiency, Reggie carried this team on offense this year.

In the end though, despite further cementing Reggie as a fan-favorite, there’s even less to take from this season for Reggie than most other Clippers. He’s not an improving young guy like Terance Mann or Luke Kennard, a sparkling rookie like Brandon Boston Jr., or even a new player of interest like Robert Covington. He’s a 32 year old point guard who was asked to play a role very different than the one he will play on a hopefully healthy Clippers roster next season, where he will be behind Kawhi Leonard, George, and Norm Powell in the offensive pecking order. We didn’t learn much about Reggie that we didn’t already know, but that doesn’t matter. What he did was plenty good enough.

Future with Clippers

Reggie has one more season left on his deal at just over $11M, a reasonable price for a very good backup and below-average but acceptable starting point guard. More importantly, he’s beloved by the team, the locker room, and fans. Now, this front office has traded fan favorites before (Pat and Lou Williams come to mind), and if they can get a big upgrade, they’ll make it. But neither of those guys were one of Paul George’s best friends, nor were they players who had left very positive impressions in their most recent playoff performances (no, the play-in this year doesn’t count). Really, Reggie just has more value to the Clippers than he does elsewhere and feels like a Clippers’ lifer (though the same also felt true of Pat and Lou).

In short, while a Reggie trade is not unbelievable (like a Kawhi Leonard trade would be), it seems very unlikely that he’ll get moved elsewhere. If anything, I think the Clippers and Reggie might work on an extension of some kind to keep him with the Clippers longer-term. Hopefully that’s the case, because as strange as it sounds considering he’s been on the team for just over two seasons, it would be very weird to see Reggie in another jersey. For now, hopefully Reggie Jackson is able to get some rest after a taxing 2022 season – he’s more than earned it.

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