After making a bold move for Ronnie Brewer, the Oklahoma City Thunder have further bolstered their roster by adding a player that used to be one of their own. Derek Fisher, the five-time NBA champion, who apparently is fully healed after nursing a knee injury, has rejoined the Thunder. That means that OKC, who recently got rid of guard Eric Maynor, are once again three-deep at point guard.
Reggie Jackson, who has been a solid backup for All-Star Russell Westbrook, is part of the reason why OKC was able to resign Fisher. Given his solid play, averaging 4.0 PPG, 1.6 APG, 2.1 RPG, 0.3 STLPG in just a little under 12 minutes, the Thunder were able to ship out Maynor to the Portland Trail Blazers. It has since leaned heavily on the young Jackson.
Seemingly, the primary reason for getting rid of Maynor was the team’s inability to resign him this summer, due to their heavy commitment to long-term contracts with Durant, Ibaka, and Westbrook. But one can’t help but think that the Thunder knew something we didn’t.
Derek Fisher was averaging 8.6 PPG and 3.6 APG for the Dallas Mavericks before he went through a serious knee injury. Being the class act he usually is, Fisher asked for the Mavs to waive his contract so he could spend time recovering alongside his family. Looking to please a class act, the Mavs agreed. At the time, it seemed that Fisher would need ample time to recover, and that he wouldn’t be returning to play at this point in the season. Yet, here he is, now donning the Thunder electric blue and yellow.
Many would argue that Fisher had plans to land back in L.A. alongside ex-teammate Kobe Bryant, but perhaps the ongoing drama in Lakerland derailed those plans. Regardless, Fisher is now back with the organization he helped lead to the Finals last season.
It’s unknown what the Thunder’s plans are for him, given Reggie Jackson’s strong play. But perhaps a past shift in personnel is a good indicator.
Back when he joined the Dallas Mavericks, Fisher took over the starting role for Darren Collison, after the latter point guard had averaged 12.9 PPG and 6.3 APG in fourteen games as a starter. Collison thought it wasn’t a fair shake, but Fisher’s calm on the court and padded resume helped him nab the responsibility. Fisher won’t be taking over the starting position in Oklahoma City with Westbrook at the helm, but one can’t help to think that he’ll gladly usurp Jackson’s position.
Shooting 37 more shots this season than Durant, who is the league’s leading scorer, perhaps Scott Brooks has finally decided to hit the brakes on Westbrook’s heroball tendencies. Having two capable point guards in Fisher and Jackson, Westbrook could be moved to the “2” at critical points in games, where he’d be able to tap into his high-scoring and high-flying abilities. If Brooks can finally strip Westbrook of some of his responsibilities as facilitator, and instead tap into his natural inclination toward the shooting guard position, OKC can live up to a scary potential.
Regardless, expect Fisher to have a strong return to the Thunder lineup, averaging somewhere in between his numbers for Dallas, and his numbers in last year’s playoffs (6.3 PPG and 1.3 APG).