Burning Questions: Northwest
Answering key questions for an evolving division
- USA TODAY SportsWhat questions face Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge and their teams?
The start of training camp is just six weeks away, with many players returning to their team practice facilities the week after Labor Day to participate in "informals" (small group workouts and glorified pickup runs). Most teams have a clear picture of their personnel at this point, and expectations have been set internally, but there's always a level of uncertainty entering camp. Which are the main concerns of each team?
These are the burning questions that each team must ask of itself, the answers to which usually hold a key indicator to the level of success that will be achieved this season.
Each day, we'll tackle a different division in the Western Conference and answer burning questions for every team. Today, we start with the Northwest Division.
1. How will Reggie Jackson fit into the sixth-man role playing alongside Russell Westbrook?
The departure of Kevin Martin from the Thunder leaves a gaping hole for the sixth man scorer's role, one that had also previously been held by James Harden, and Jackson probably stands the best shot at filling that need. In a weird way, Jackson has benefited tremendously from two major injuries to teammates: Eric Maynor's torn ACL two seasons ago and Westbrook's torn meniscus during the playoffs. While he isn't nearly as explosive or efficient a scorer as Harden or Martin, Jackson has the potential to be the best defensive option of them all. He has good length and quickness and is a tremendous rebounder from the backcourt, but has a penchant for getting lazy on the defensive end, something that doesn't stick out as much at 14 minutes per game as it does at 27.7 (what Martin played last year) or 31.4 (what Harden played). Jackson needs to set himself apart by bringing the intensity and focus on the defensive end consistently.
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