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Clippers In Review: Reggie Jackson’s redemption tour feels like it’s just beginning in LA

Reggie Jackson bounced around a few times in his now ten-year career. But perhaps he’s found a home with the Clippers in Los Angeles.

New Orleans Pelicans v LA Clippers - Play-In Tournament Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to Clippers In Review, where we’ll recap the season for every player that ended the season in Los Angeles. Next up: Reggie Jackson.

How did Jackson do this season?

Reggie Jackson put up scoring numbers that, comparatively, look to be among his best averages for his career. His 16.8 points per game were the second-most he’s ever averaged over a full season — he scored 18.8 per game in his first full year as a Piston, but in his first 27 games in Detroit (after being traded from Oklahoma City at the 2015 trade deadline), he averaged 17.6. In Los Angeles in 2021-22, he carried a good chunk of offensive responsibility due to Kawhi Leonard’s injury, and then even more when Paul George went out. Hence the big numbers, hence the nights that Reggie Jackson looked like a bona fide star guard.

But those nights can be fleeting moments in a season full of up-and-down play, which Jackson was hardly immune to. He shot splits of 39-33-85, the first two percentages obviously carrying a great deal more weight than being solid at the free-throw line. Prior to this season, he hadn’t shot the ball so poorly from the field since his rookie season in 2011, and not from three since 2017-18 in Detroit. This season, he attempted 16.4 shots per game, 6.8 of them from deep; he had never sniffed totals like that.

Perhaps it’s a good thing, that in what was his first real starting season on a contending team — hey, the Clippers were supposed to be, right? — he was inefficient, almost more so than ever. The silver lining way to look at a season like this hinges on experience: on occasion, he scored at a prolific rate, and he all-but led this Clippers team when its stars were out. Sure, LA’s role players all banded together to form the upstart Clipper crew of 2021-22, but Jackson’s name was at the top of the call sheet for much of this season.

However, Jackson has had plenty of time to rack up experience over the course of a ten-year NBA career. He shouldn’t be this inefficient at this point in his career, and when a player begins to dip like this, even if that dip is slight, it’s impossible not to wonder, is this just who Jackson is now? That’s what we’ll have to watch out for as we look ahead to next season: how Jackson fits in this lineup at full-strength, and whether or not he’ll be okay stepping back again in terms of attempts and touches. Because frankly, what’s the use of yet another so-so season from him as he likely looks down the line at the next contract, whether it comes in Los Angeles or not? Speaking of which...

Should we expect him back?

Sacramento Kings v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

You would think so. It will be the last year on his two-year, $21.5 million fully-guaranteed contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, a final year to really prove that he can play starter-quality minutes and put forth starter-quality numbers. We saw him do exactly that last season, even if him playing point guard wasn’t exactly in the ideal plans given his tendency to want to score these days. Plus, there’s the whole narrative that the Clippers should contend for a championship next season, if all goes right and everyone from the top on down is healthy and able to play more than 35 games.

But those are enough “ifs” to give a player like Jackson pause — one who is now ten years into his career and will soon have to start further evaluating whether or not he can stick around while the “ifs” work themselves out. Because what if he were to sign an extension, and then the “ifs” don’t becomes “whens”? Then, Jackson would need to force a trade to try getting to the promised land, or he’d be a sitting duck. He’s not an overwhelmingly efficient player, but he’s one that can give you 15-20 points per night rolling out of bed (even if that’s a credit, in part, to how often he shoots the ball).

So, for next season at the least, Jackson should remain a Clipper. The fake trades will fly this summer, though. They’ve even gotten off to an early start: Bleacher Report’s Greg Schwartz recently floated a trade idea that would land Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. The package he had in mind includes “a collection of starters and role players (a package of Norman Powell, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard would make the money work) to place next to Durant”. Brooklyn wouldn’t be the worst fit for Jackson; he could slot in next to Seth Curry in the starting lineup, and he’d likely get up just as many shots as he did last season in Los Angeles, if not more so.

But forget that for now. He can get his money (and minutes) in Los Angeles for the time being. And if the team has any season, they’ll want to keep him around. At least for the moment.