OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - After years spent building the Oklahoma City Thunder’s core through the draft, Sam Presti found himself adding a bit of depth instead of a major piece.
The Thunder took Boston College guard Reggie Jackson with the 24th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
“In Reggie Jackson, we feel like we have a player that brings great length and athleticism,” said Presti, the general manager. “With a team that won 55 games last season, the objective is to layer the organization with young, talented players when it comes to the draft.”
Jackson averaged 18.2 points and shot 42 percent from 3-point range as a junior last season for the Eagles. He could provide some offensive punch for a defensive-minded Thunder team that gets much of its scoring from All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Yet he joins a crowded backcourt that already features Westbrook and defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup and has James Harden and Eric Maynor established off the bench.
“Minutes are going to be tough, but they’re going to be earned,” coach Scott Brooks said. “Whoever plays, they’re going to earn those minutes, and he’s going to be given an opportunity to compete for minutes.”
Jackson, at 6-foot-3, has a 7-foot wingspan and ranked among the best shooters in Atlantic Coast Conference play from the foul line (87 percent), 3-point range (40 percent) and overall (47 percent). He was picked to the all-ACC first team.
Jackson didn’t participate in the draft combine in Chicago and canceled workouts with teams because he had a procedure done on his right knee. Presti said the Thunder expect him to be healed in time for training camp.
It was the only pick the Thunder had after losing to Dallas in the Western Conference finals, with a core of its own first-round picks in recent years.
This is the first time in that span, though, that the franchise didn’t have a lottery pick or trade up to get one. Last year, Oklahoma City moved up to get center Cole Aldrich at No. 11 but he spent most of the season playing in the NBA development league.
“It’s pretty good to be able to be able to sit here and say we were able to add another young player that we feel very good about but we’re doing so in a situation where it’s really adding depth to the team,” Presti said.
At least in the short term, Jackson could face a competition with seldom-used reserves Nate Robinson and Royal Ivey to become the team’s third-string point guard.
“Reggie will have to come in obviously and do a heck of a job … with a returning team that we’re returning eight of 10 rotation players with two free agents that were part of that rotation,” Presti said.