Reggie Jackson Season Preview
Hello good and beautiful people! This is the 5th in a series of season previews, Reggie is the last of the starting lineup, next up will be the bench starting with Ish Smith.
Here is Reggie's shot chart from last year. (Sorry about the last 2 not having shot charts. My shot chart site was having some issues apparently, but back up now.)
Where he stands now:
Reggie is entering the 2nd year of his 5 year $80 million contract. Which means that he has 4 left including this year, he will make just under 15 million this year. Reggie is the starting point guard and is in no threat to lose that spot heading into the season. He is 26 and will be for almost the entire season.
What to generally expect from him this year:
Reggie will be the starting PG, and will be the main initiator of the offense. Hopefully he will not have quite as heavy a offensive burden with some other capable ball handlers on the roster this year so it would be fair to assume he will be able to play at least a few more minutes per game. (SVG specifically said that last year Reggie played less minutes because of his offensive burden) Even so, he will likely still be in the lower 30s per game. I would expect his role to be largely the same as last year just with him not being quite as ball dominant.
Reggie had an almost absurd offensive load last year, his usage rate of 29% was one of the highest in the NBA and it undersells how much he had the ball. As stated earlier, he should be able to get at least a little bit of a break on offense this year, primarily as a result of Tobias Harris getting to be fully integrated into the offense, as well as (hopefully) KCP and Andre taking at least some small steps in creating their own offense. Last season Reggie was pretty close to as good as he could have been, he generally made good decisions as to when to pass or shoot, and he was about 40% responsible for the 2nd or 3rd most deadly pick and roll tandem in basketball.
Of all the things he did last year that he needs to do again in order to cement faith in him is his outside shooting. Last season he shot just over 35% from 3, which marked his first ever season above league average, however his shooting is a bit more impressive because he took very few spot up looks. He does not need to be a sniper, (although if he could pull a Kyle Lowry sort of turnaround that would be awesome) but he needs to can enough pull up 3s (and 2s) to keep defenses honest. Which he largely did last year, but once again, he will have to do it again in order to prove that he didn't just have an up year from deep last season.
The main area for improvement with Reggie is cutting out the occasional bad games that he would have. As I said earlier he generally made good decisions, but when teams overloaded against the pick and roll he was not always comfortable just passing it out and letting his teammates do the work against a now scrambling defense. His consistency was not as big an issue as some made it out to be, but it would be great if he could cut out the occasional miserable game that he did have. There is good reason to expect this improvement, last year was his first as the full time starting point guard, and he was (largely) playing with new teammates. The best reason for hope in this area was the playoff series, where the Cavs overplayed the pick and roll to comical proportions and Reggie was willing to pass right out of the double teams and let his teammates work from there, and he did it to the tune of just over 9 assists per game and 2.5 turnovers. It is only 4 games, but that is a Chris Paul sort of ratio, which is obviously very good.
The only thing that is a true question mark for Reggie is how he adjusts to (theoretically) playing off the ball more. He has plenty of experience in that role from OKC, but he spent last season with the ball in his hands at all times, and it will be a bit of an adjustment. Although the real question is whether or not he can take some of the extra energy he should have, and put it to good use in other areas, mainly his defense.
Simply put, Reggie looks to be the surest thing on the Pistons roster. There are some smaller things that he can improve on, but his hope for improvements has just as much to do with others on the roster improving as himself. He is a pretty complete player as it is, and the expectation from him should be nothing less than what he did last year, just hopefully a bit more efficient and consistent.
Reggie Jackson is a fairly interesting case on defense in that it is hard to decide what his defensive value was last year. On one hand, he certainly was not that good, he would often get beat and/or lost in his positioning, and the Pistons would essentially hide him on defense more often than not and let KCP take opposing point guards. On the other hand, his size and hard nosed attitude is a big part of what allows the Pistons to unleash KCP onto opposing point guards, because there are not a lot of point guards who you can stick onto wings and have it go just fine, even if they are not threatening wings. When they would try and post him up, Reggie seemed to always take it as an insult to his manhood that they would even try to do so, and he would body them up and make them work hard. Most point guards would not be so willing or able to do what he does against opposing wings. On top of that, when he is locked in and playing hard, Reggie can become a long and tough skinned menace on the defensive end, even if he didn't do it very often, there were a few different times last season where the Pistons suddenly became the 2004 pistons on defense, and Reggie was a part of each of those moments.
Hopefully him getting a bit more energy to use on defense will help him, if he does take a smaller offensive role and still is mediocre on defense I would be fairly disappointed in him. The hope has to be that he can become a slight plus on defense this season, but even if he doesn't he is not a big enough problem to worry too much.
Reggie was a leader on the team last year, there is no question about that. He seemed to totally embrace getting to be “the guy” to an extent and he did it not in a cocky way, but in a grateful way. In essence he got what he wanted and was now just living it up and enjoying every moment, almost as though he was so happy to have a team truly believe in him that he gave it extra to show that their faith was well placed. This especially showed in the various times that he got banged up, there were several different games where Reggie was clearly hurt and just played through it, limping visibly until he could just walk it off. The most vivid memory here was in the first game against Golden State, where he got hurt (I think his thigh got hit hard or something) and was limping and clearly not ok, but it was almost half time, and this dude gritted his teeth and limped his ass into the lane and got a tough floater right at the buzzer. He was held out of the 2nd half, but that sort of gritty leadership means something and guys respond to that.
The only downside is that he occasionally tried to do too much and/or got too excited. The best example was against the Thunder in Detroit where he started off the game with like 4 turnovers and SVG pulled him out early to get him to settle down. Still though, I'll take a tough as nails guy who occasionally gets too hyped up any day.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Reggie is averaging 20/10 on great efficiency.
All of the floaters.
Reggie is canning 3 pointers at anything over 35%.
He doesn't get quite so banged up so he is healthy all year.
KCP and Jackson suddenly form one of the more formidable defensive backcourts in the NBA.
Run for the hills if:
Reggie Jackson decides to be the 3rd little piggy and build a house out of bricks.
He still is having occasional bad games.
His defense is still fairly poor.
He gets banged up right at the start of the season again.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Reggie doesn't make the all star team, but everyone knows he should have.
He shoots 38% from 3, with the boost coming from increased spot up looks.
He is more committed to playing good defense, even though he doesn't have some sort of epiphany.
What do you think? How will Reggie do this year? Let me know! We all get smarter!