The Los Angeles Clippers may have got eliminated by the Phoenix Suns last night in the Western Conference Finals, but nobody can blame them. They managed to put up a great fight amidst all the injuries and problems that hit them through this playoff run. After they managed to fight back versus the Mavericks and the Jazz, the Suns were too big of a challenge, especially without Kawhi Leonard and Ivica Zubac.
Still, a few other names stepped up majorly in all the absences and improved their reputation in the NBA world. The biggest winner on the losing side is definitely Reggie Jackson. After the Detroit Pistons bought him out last season, Reggie's stock was looking very low, with the high possibility of being out of the league soon due to all the injuries and inconsistency in his game.
But being long-time friends with Paul George, the Clippers decided to give him a shot, as he displayed solid performances in the bubble. That earned him a minimum contract for this year, as Jackson repaid the Clippers trust with some of the best basketball of his career. Even though the Clippers had a stacked team, Reggie managed to find his way into the starting lineup for most of the season, bringing the Clippers shot-creation from the point guard position, averaging 10.7 ppg and 3.1 apg, establishing his role as one of the key players in their postseason run.
Reggie stepped up his game in the playoffs, averaging 17.9 ppg and 3.5 apg, especially after Kawhi went down, being that second star next to Paul George and bailing them out in some crucial games. Jackson gave it his all, but it wasn't enough to push the Clippers to the Finals, as the Suns simply had the better team. After the game, Reggie got emotional and thanked his teammates for quite possibly saving his career:
"It was the most challenging year. The most fun year. Not sure when you're gonna play. Ups and downs. Guys getting injured. Still finding my way in this locker room. First thing I told those guys was 'thank you for saving me.' I appreciate it. I appreciate every guy in that locker room. I appreciate Paul [George] for getting on that phone last year and the end of the season as time went by in Detroit. I'm thankful for everything I've experienced here."
Reggie Jackson, via Postgame Interview
It's great to see Reggie Jackson finally fulfill some of the potential he showed when coming up with the Thunder. At that time, Reggie was forced into some pressure situations in a crucial playoff game with the Thunder, especially after Westbrook went down with an injury. He would show flashes but never capitalize on it. After leaving for Detroit in order to be a starter and possible leader, Reggie never got it together until this year. Hopefully, he continues to play on this level and prove he has a significant place in this league. Wherever it's in LA or somewhere else, Reggie is going to get paid.
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