Sheridan Hoops’ Sixth Man Rankings — Week 7

Reggie Jackson is really, really good. Still, not that many people realize it. He’s the kind of player whose impact on his team is completely understated because his per-game numbers fail to tell the whole story.

When people think of the Oklahoma City Thunder, they think of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook putting up big numbers and carrying the team to wins.

As it turns out, Jackson’s impact on the Thunder’s success is not too far behind.

For the season, Jackson is averaging 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in under 25 minutes. Those stats are extremely impressive considering the limited court time. Extended out to 36 minutes per game – starter’s numbers – his averages are 18.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

Even still, those numbers fail to illustrate just how important Jackson is to the Thunder. His splits manage to tell part of the story.

Oklahoma City is 23-5, and Jackson is averaging four more points per game in wins (13.0) than losses (9.0). That’s worth noting but it isn’t the most drastic disparity out there. Jackson’s game log, however, does a better job of proving his value.

In each of the Thunder’s five losses, Jackson has failed to meet his scoring average (12.5 points). Meanwhile, in 80 percent of OKC’s wins, Jackson has scored in double digits. His scoring and its direct relationship to his team’s success has an undeniable resemblance to Eric Bledsoe’s positive impact for the Clippers last season.

It’s pretty clear Jackson has the skills necessary to become a quality starting point guard in the near future, which presents somewhat of a problem for the payroll-conscious Thunder. Jackson is still on his rookie deal, but a projected extension would begin in 2015-16, when GM Sam Presti also will have to make decisions on whether to re-sign bigs Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison.

The last time Presti had a hotshot sixth man due and a big man to re-sign, he traded James Harden and extended Serge Ibaka. It will be interesting to see how he handles Jackson’s situation.

Now, on to the rankings … 

RANK Player RUNDOWN RECENT
1 Oklahoma City Thunder REGGIE JACKSON, G, OKLAHOMA CITY: OKC is pushing for the NBA’s best record and Jackson’s emergence is a big reason. He is playing so well, many believe the Thunder are better than with James Harden as sixth man. His role is growing, averaging 14.5 points in December.  
1
2 Spurs MANU GINOBILI, G, SAN ANTONIO: His PER is still better than Tony Parker’s and he averaged 17 points last week. He’s also averaging close to eight assists per 40 minutes – quality starting point guard territory. 2
3 UTA_Williams_Mo MO WILLIAMS, G, PORTLAND: Williams averages 10 points in wins and only 5.6 points in losses. Although he leads all bench players with 4.5 assists per game, it’s clear his scoring is important to the success of the league-leading Trail Blazers. 
3
4 LAC_Crawford_Jamal JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, LA CLIPPERS: Moved into the starting lineup as J.J. Redick continues to rehab, and the Clippers are 5-2 since with two last-second losses. J-Crossover averaged 23 points on 40 percent from deep last week and has regained his groove. 
4
5 PHI_Young_Nick NICK YOUNG, G, LA LAKERS: Young’s fans will be rewarded with an upcoming feature. Swaggy P leads all bench players with 17.3 points and has shown drastic improvement on defense. Averaging close to 20 points in December and is setting himself up for a nice payday in July. 5

DROPOUTS: None.

FIVE TO WATCH: Tyreke Evans, G,  New Orleans; Markieff Morris, F, Phoenix; Alec Burks, G, Utah; Rodney Stuckey, G, Detroit; Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland.

PREVIOUS RANKINGS: Rookie | Most Improved MVP | Sixth Man | Power

Jacob Eisenberg is a student at Emory University and covers the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. Check out his website and click here to follow him on Twitter. 


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