Season Recap/Notes: Reggie Jackson. + Hello from China!

I'm back and ready to go into the offseason material.

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You can follow along with stats on the basketball reference page here.Any stats that are not on that page will be linked to or indicated.

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The Good:

After finally getting what he wanted with his own team to be the starting PG on, Reggie Jackson was pretty close to a full-on success. But you have to dig into some of the numbers a little bit to get the full extent of his impact on the Pistons, and how remarkable a season it really was for Jackson. Obviously you can start with the simple stats of 18.8/6.2/3.2 (on .535 TS%). And that is a really solid line for any point guard, regardless of context. But the more you look into the numbers, the more impressive they become. For starters, he did this playing just 30.7 minutes per game, putting his per 36 stat line at 22.1/7.3/3.8. Obviously it is a skill to be able to play a lot, and I don't know if SVG will play him more in the future (Reggie did play heavy minutes in the playoffs and looked just fine so there is that. Point being, maybe he can't play more minutes for the whole season so it doesn't really matter what his per 36 is.) but the point still stands, is that his bulk numbers would look much better if he played as much as other stars in the NBA often do. And beyond that, is the big thing that must be mentioned when talking about the season Reggie had: the offensive burden that he carried this season. This season, there were 17 guys who had a usage rate over 28%, a true shooting % over 50%, and played at least 30 minutes per game. (The minutes is really just to weed out the occasional scrub guy, not actually an important number.) This is the list of those 17.And keep in mind, that the USG% stat undervalues someone like Jackson. The stat shows the percentage of possessions (while player x is on the floor) that end with player "x" assisting, shooting, or turning over the basketball. So while Steph Curry get's to add to his usage rate with every missed spot up 3 created by someone else that he finishes, (not a knock on Curry dear God don't get butt hurt about Curry he is really good) while Reggie does not get to add to his usage rate for creating an awesome look for KCP if KCP misses the 3. Obvoiusly Steph would also lose some here, basically the point is that usage rate helps guys who finish plays and hurts guys who create plays for others. And this is important to note for Reggie because of ALL NBA PLAYERS who played at least 20mpg, he had the lowest % of his points assisted. Let me say that one more time, NO ONE IN THE NBA (who played meaningful minutes) HAD TO CREATE MORE OF THEIR SHOTS THAN REGGIE JACKSON.* And after Chris Paul in 2nd, there is a sizable dropoff. And once again, he did this with very respectable efficiency in both his scoring and his passing.*

On top of all this is the fact that he was on a new team, in a new role from any time before in his career and his season actually is pretty mind boggling.* So to sum it up, Reggie Jackson was a starter for the first time in his career, was damn near the only ball handler on a stupid young team, had more touches, shots, passes, and responsibility than ever before in his career. And he put up numbers on par with guys who are viewed as THE class of the NBA. And his size and hard nosed attitude is a big help in allowing KCP to smother opposing PGs on defense, leaving Reggie on wing players most nights, and his length and athleticism will occasionally result in awesome defensive plays and rebounds. Reggie Jackson is well worth his contract, and he proved it this season. He is a top 30 (maybe 20) player in the NBA, and is easily the second best player on this team. Reggie Jackson is awesome, and he is ours.

*Plays with Andre Drummond. Andre gets lots of off ball assists with Reggie.

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The Bad:

I said some nice stuff about his defense, but there is also a lot of bad. His size helped KCP to smother PGs, but KCP also kind of had to take on most opposing PGs because Reggie was often just not up to the job of handling really good PGs on the defensive end. I said in the good section, Reggie is not a bad defender, but I feel like he should be better. He is occasionally a little bit lazy, and undisciplined, and he does not make up for those things with heaps of steals or blocks like some people do. (For instance, Andre reaches too much, but at least he ends up with lots of steals to show for it.) And while his versatility does have real value, and he should get real props for never shying away from bigger dudes, I still fondly remember times when he got switched onto LeBron (in the playoffs and regular season) and even though LeBron (mostly) killed him, Reggie bodied up and made hime work. But even so, whenever he had to guard a good offensive player, he did not do very well. And that was a bit of an issue this season. A lot of people would also put his tendency to hero ball a bit too much in this space, but I'm actually not going to. Most of the time, his times of hero ball were with good reason, and it worked a lot too. (And is the reason for him being the top clutch scorer in the NBA this season.)

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Biggest Answer?

He is worth the contract, and worth the faith put into him by SVG. This was really THE question coming into the season for the Pistons, and while Reggie was not quite perfect, I think every Pistons fan can sleep well knowing he is the Pistons PG going forward. (Honorable mention to his 3 point shot being serviceable.)

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Biggest Question?

There are 2 of them really. First off, can he play more? I believe he has asthma, and SVG also said that Reggie's low minutes where due to the offensive load he had. (which we already covered as being a very large one) These are both fair points. But even in todays NBA, 30 mpg for one of your best players is not very much, he played more in the playoffs (and occasionally in the regular season) and seemed ok so I'm not really worried about it, but when you are on the bench you can't help the team, no matter how good you are. The other thing, is can he even out his consistency a little bit? I think his issues with consistency were a little bit overstated this season, but it is true that he would sometimes struggle a bit more than you would hope. In theory this is fine, as already stated, he was in a new and very large role this season. Next season he will be more comfortable playing as the starting PG and with the guys around him, and (hopefully) the guys around him will improve as well. But he needs to do a better job of seeing the times where opposing teams will not let him run PnRs all game with Andre to win and he just has to make the right pass and let his teammates do their thing. (And FWIW, the playoffs were a great sign for the future in this respect, because he did exactly that.)

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The verdict for this year and beyond?

I'm not going to give grades because I think they are stupid (Basketball is far too complex for that, no player is perfect and no player has nothing good.) But it was a wonderful year for Reggie, and I was hugely impressed with him all season and in the playoffs. He has a couple of spots in his game I would like to see him smooth out a bit, but even if he makes no improvements from here, he is a wonderful player. And if he does make the improvements, he would legitimately be in the conversation with the top PGs in the NBA. (Although as I already talked about some here, he maybe should be anyways.) A big thing to watch for though, will be how he adjusts to the future as he in theory gets to take a slightly smaller offensive role (his usage rate and touches already dropped quite a bit after Tobais' arrival.) and can he take some of his energy and put it into playing better defense/playing more minutes.

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What do you think? What is the best thing you saw from Reggie this season? What's the worst? Let me know! We all get smarter!

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China trip/offseason material notes: I am safely in Beijing and still a bit jet-lagged, but I am ready to go now. If you still want to help fund me with the posts you can do that here. I will be doing plenty of posts this offseason so be sure to keep checking for them, and I should have more time now that I am pretty settled in here, but they might come at goofy times/intervals just because I am not going to put off doing something dope to get a post up. Essentially, I am on no sort of schedule for these posts while I am in China. And if you have any interest in following along my China trip you can friend me on facebookfor pictures, follow me on twitter for snarky remarkes (already linked), or check into my actual blog page for the occasional post there about it. (haven't done one yet but might later today or tomorrow.)