Fratello’s Fantasy Pick

Golden State Warriors v Oklahoma City ThunderWhen 3X NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook put up a triple-double in a Christmas day thrashing of the Knicks at MSG, Oklahoma City fans surely thought their super-athletic ringleader was close to 100% after two off-season right knee surgeries.

However, just two days later it was announced that Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on that same knee and would be sidelined until the All-Star break.

Into this lead-guard void stepped 6’3”, third-year PG Reggie Jackson.

The Boston College product had performed admirably in the 2013 Playoffs after Westbrook was injured. 23-year-old Jackson played in all 11 postseason contests and started 9 of them. In those 11 games, he averaged 13.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.6 apg while shooting 48% from the field and an impressive 90% from the line.

So far in the 2013-14 campaign, Jackson has played in all 43 games and started all 18 since Westbrook’s most recent surgery.

Forced into a very difficult role in the PG-heavy Western Conference, Jackson has made great strides, and his game has matured. “Mr. OKCtober” appears very comfortable at the helm, understanding there are nights when he needs to distribute the ball and nights when he needs to pick up the scoring slack.

In the month of January, Jackson has averaged 16.1 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.7 rpg and 1.7 spg in 32.7 mpg. He has season highs of 27 points (2X), 8 dimes (2X), 7 boards (4X) and 6 steals.

OKC’s Reggie Jackson might not be the straw that stirs the Thunder’s drink like the former NY Yankee, but he is a valuable asset on a championship-driven squad. Jackson has earned Coach Scott Brooks’ confidence, and he will continue to build on the experience he’s gained and the assurance he’s developed. So even after Jackson is relegated back to the pine once Westbrook returns, look for this up-and-comer to continue to get 25-30 minutes of action a night.

Beyond the Lottery: Reggie Jackson

Boston College guard Reggie Jackson stands 6’3” but has a 7’ wingspan. He is exceptionally fast and gets to the rim easily and fluidly, either with his great first step or effective crossover dribbling. Once at the rim, he possesses tremendous jumping ability and body control.

This past season Jackson averaged 18.2 points per game (third best in the conference), 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He shot 50% from the field, 80% from the line and 42% from 3-point range. Jackson’s ability to attack the basket as well as shoot from bonus-point land makes him a tough cover for the other side’s lead or off guard. And that tremendous wingspan gives Jackson a great natural advantage when he’s getting his hands in passing lanes and disrupting ball movement.

The 21-year-old Colorado Springs native improved across the board during his three seasons in Chestnut Hill. He was named to the All-ACC First Team for the 2010-2011 season. Jackson is a natural scorer who can take control on the offensive end. The Eagles were a team in re-group and re-building mode this year, and the combo guard didn’t have a lot of help which allowed opposing teams to ‘key’ on him. This season-long pressure to be ‘the man’ for the young BC squad will serve him well at the NBA level where the challenge of competing with bigger, veteran, more talented perimeter players will be a nightly occurrence.

Esteemed long-time Boston Globe sports columnist and BC alum Bob Ryan has written that Reggie Jackson is the most athletic and explosive guard in school history. With his above-average offensive arsenal and the potential to be a lock-down defender, Jackson will be a good addition to a team in need of backcourt depth If he can improve his passing and court vision to become more effective at the point guard position.