15 games in, let’s check up on Reggie Jackson and the Pistons
The Detroit Pistons scrapped their way to an 11-10 record without their starting point guard, Reggie Jackson, but the wheels have come off since his return.
Optimism was sky high at the beginning of December for the Detroit Pistons. Thanks to valiant efforts from Ish Smith, they had weathered an early season stretch to go 11-10 without Reggie Jackson, who had been considered a fringe All Star point guard just a season ago.
His addition was expected to take a Pistons’ team over the top and catapult them back into the thick of the Eastern Conference standings. Somehow nothing has turned out quite as expected.
Since Jackson’s return the Pistons have languished, going just 5-10 and have dropped to an 11th-place tie with the Orlando Magic. The Magic are roughly where they were expected to be this season. The Pistons are anything but.
Just a couple of games into Jackson’s return, his ball-dominant style of play caused ripples in the Pistons’ locker room, leading to a players-only meeting in which touches of the ball were discussed, as well as lack of effort defensively. Granted, the Pistons had to adjust from Ish Smith’s distributing pass-first shoot-second style back to Jackson’s on-ball attack, but they’ve made the switch poorly.
Reggie Jackson doesn't care about Athens, Sparta, or Greece in general for that matter. pic.twitter.com/AMejnEJOBx
— Per Sources Sports (@PerSources) December 29, 2016
The Pistons starting lineup, a year ago one of the best in the NBA, has floundered mightily. This season, the unit of Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond has performed dreadfully as a group.
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They’re getting outscored 118.8 to 98.5 per 100 possessions, producing a net rating of -20.3. That’s no small sample, either. The unit has played 153.6 minutes together and is a full 8.5 points per 100 possessions worse than the next worst lineup that has played 150 minutes or more, a lineup for the Orlando Magic that consists of D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.
It’s forced the Pistons to rethink their starting lineup and bench rotations. The Pistons swapped Tobias Harris to the bench in favor of Jon Leuer, one of the few bright spots for the Pistons this season. This lineup has fared better, but is still getting outscored by .8 points per 100 possessions over 65 minutes.
Jackson himself has struggled and hasn’t yet fully regained his form from a year ago. He’s shown flashes, but he’s certainly not there yet. On the season, he’s shooting just over 42 from the floor and 32 percent from long range, both numbers that we can expect to see improvement on as Jackson gets his feet under him.
In the meantime, it’s on the rest of the Pistons to get their act together. The Pistons are fortunate that in a weak Eastern Conference, they’re a mere 1.5 games behind the eighth seed, but the longer they wait for things to click, the steeper this uphill battle will become.