How Colorado kid Reggie Jackson can help the Nuggets stay on track

Denver Nuggets v Detroit Pistons
Denver Nuggets v Detroit Pistons / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

When the Denver Nuggets won their first-ever NBA championship, nobody showed more gratitude than Reggie Jackson. The 33-year-old point guard had a “full-circle” moment in more ways than one.

By signing with the Denver Nuggets last February, Jackson made a welcomed return to his high school stomping grounds. Jackson played ball at General William J. Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, about an hour from Ball Arena. He was named the 2007-08 Gatorade Colorado Boy’s Basketball Player of the Year before spending his college days as a Boston College Eagle.

After three years of college, Jackson landed in Oklahoma City as the No. 24 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. In his rookie year, the Thunder made it all the way to the finals before losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Over the next 10 years, Jackson reached two conference finals with two different teams: the Thunder and the Clippers. He also spent five years in Detroit where the Pistons only made the playoffs twice and were swept on both occasions. Then came his Colorado homecoming.

After he won his first ring, Jackson reflected on how much the victory meant to him in an interview with KRDO-TV. He made sure to give praise to Nikola Jokic for his all-time great leadership.

"Honestly, I never thought I’d be back here [in the finals]. I started giving up hope. Earlier in my career, I thought there was a lot of promise when we were in OKC … Being traded away this year, being brought into this team. Nikola and the whole team welcomed me with open arms. I don’t think he [Jokic] knows the magnitude of what he just did for the state. Being a kid from the state, I know what it means."

Reggie Jackson

The 2023-24 Nuggets have played without an injured Jamal Murray over their last nine contests, and none other than Jackson has stepped up in the Blue Arrow’s absence. Across his nine starts, Jackson has averaged 13.0 points and 4.2 assists on 46.5% shooting. In that span, Denver has gone a mediocre 4-5 overall with a 3-0 record at home.

Jackson recently cooked the Pistons, handing his former team 21 points and six assists on 9/15 shooting. Despite his game-to-game inconsistency, the journeyman has filled in for Murray valiantly. His presence could help the Nuggets maintain their well-oiled offense as they await the return of their second star.

A hamstring injury has kept Murray on the sidelines since Nov. 4, and the Canadian point guard had been putting up 18.7 points per game and 8.7 assists per game before he went down. With Murray in the lineup, Denver won six of their first seven games. The reigning NBA champions now sit at 10-6 on the season with a top-ten net rating in the league. They also rank top five in both assists per game and team field goal percentage.

Over the summer, Jackson spoke with Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports about returning to the Nuggets on his two-year, $10.25 million deal.

"I’m just thankful that I got a home back home. I’m with a great team, and I’ve got a chance to just try to still do something I love to do."

Reggie Jackson

Even without Murray, the Nuggets have maintained a top-five seed in the Western Conference. Holding onto a top-ten record in the league shouldn’t come easy for a team missing its second-best player, but Denver has managed to do just that.

Without Jackson, the Nuggets would have a serious hole at the point guard position. His immediate impact cannot be understated, and Denver will need him badly until Murray returns.

Given Murray’s extensive injury history, Jackson makes a case for one of the most valuable backup point guards in the NBA. He will draw his tenth start of the season in Denver’s next game against the San Antonio Spurs.