Our exit interview series on the 2023 Clippers season kicks off with a review of former starting point guard Reggie Jackson.
Weight: 208 pounds
Position: Point Guard
Years in NBA: 12
Key Stats: 10.9 points, 3.5 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 1.8 turnovers in 25.7 minutes per game across 52 games played (38 starts) on 41.8/35/92.4 shooting splits (52.3 True Shooting)
While there was some thought that John Wall could challenge Reggie for the starting point guard spot on the Clippers, the wide expectation was that Reggie would remain the starter. The hope was that with Kawhi Leonard back and Paul George healthy, Reggie would be able to return the low-usage, high-efficiency tertiary ball-handler and off-ball player he was in the 2021 season rather than the high-volume gunner he was forced to be in 2022.
In terms of broad expectations, the arrival of Wall meant the hope that Reggie’s minutes could be pruned a bit to keep him fresh and healthy. On offense, Reggie would provide lights-out catch-and-shoot shooting from three, some downhill pressure off the dribble, and some playmaking. Defensively, nobody pretended Reggie would be a stopper, but with less offensive burden should have come some slightly stouter defense.
Sadly, very few of those expectations came to pass. Reggie’s efficiency did rise quite a bit compared to last year, but remained poor overall. After winning the starting point guard battle in training camp, Reggie seemed a bit pressed, maybe because of Wall metaphorically breathing down his back. He was awful in October, averaging just 9.1 points per game on horrific 42.6% True Shooting, and looking very out of sorts. He returned to form in a major way in November, by far his best month of the year, scoring 14 points on 59.1 True Shooting while dishing 4.8 assists. Kawhi missed the month with his knee flare-up, and honestly, it’s possible that Reggie almost felt more comfortable with Kawhi out again.
Unfortunately, it was all down hill from there, with Reggie’s scoring average and efficiency trickling down each month the rest of the way. Despite shooting the ball ok from three, Reggie’s burst and ability to get downhill was just never consistently present, harming a Clippers’ offense that desperately needed some juice and wasn’t getting any from Wall either. On defense, after a solid start to the year, Reggie slipped, much like the entire rest of the team.
Finally, in early January, after the Clippers lost six games in a row, Reggie was benched, moving from the starting role all the way to DNP-CD for two games. He then returned to the rotation off the bench, with Wall taking his spot in street clothes, but never regained his footing outside of a three-game stretch late in January, and a particularly poor start to February probably sealed his fate. Reggie was traded to the Hornets for Mason Plumlee to plug the Clippers’ hole at backup center, while Wall and Luke Kennard were also dished, completely overhauling the Clippers’ guard rotation.
Reggie Jackson remained beloved by most Clippers’ fans to the end, who acknowledged that Reggie had declined, but also recognized that he was being asked to do too much just a year after carrying the Clippers to a winning record and play-in appearance. While Reggie isn’t out of the league yet, it wouldn’t be shocking if he wasn’t in the NBA next year, and to go from being a high-volume starter to that level of irrelevance is very sad. I do think Reggie still can offer a team some backup point guard minutes, and indeed probably could have done so for the Clippers, but it was time for a change.
Future with Clippers
Reggie Jackson is out of Michael Malone’s rotation in Denver, and doesn’t look close to re-entering it in this playoff run. Aged 33, Reggie probably can still stick around the NBA another year or two as a depth piece, but it seems likely his starting days are over. For the Clippers, I don’t think Reggie burned any bridges, but the Clips need to get younger, and there’s no doubt things ended on a bit of a sour note. It’s possible that Reggie will make his way back to the Clippers, but it’s probably fairly unlikely. I just hope that he has a nice last year or two before retirement, and maybe even gets a ring on this year’s Nuggets squad.