This is the first player recap posts, I will be doing one for each player on the team, working my way through the starters and then to the bench. Since this is the first one there is no catching up for you to do.
You can follow along with all the stats on basketball reference. Any numbers that are not taken directly from that page will be linked separately.
Reggie Jackson was hurt. He had a brief 2(ish) week stretch after the all star break where he started to look like himself, but then he re-tweaked his knee again and it effectively ended his season. The Pistons have publicly and clearly held the stance that Reggie is still their guy and they have absolute faith in him returning to form because he was just hurt this year. They could be bullshitting to some extent, they claimed Brandon Jennings could be a long term piece up until the moment they traded him when they admitted there was no way he was coming back, but I don’t think they would be as clear as they have been if they didn’t at least mostly think it was true. Either way, I can only operate with the information available to me, as such, for the most part this post will operate with the assumption that Reggie was hurt this year and that it is not a career altering injury that he will be fully recovered from by next season.
Well, on the surface this section would be very short, but if you go with the approach of that he was just hurt all year then it is easier to find some positives. First off, is his 3 point shooting. He finished the season shooting 35.9% from 3 on 3.5 attempts per game, after shooting 35.3% from deep last year. Before arriving in Detroit his previous career best had been 33.7% and it was cited as one of the biggest concerns about his game, and while he isn’t exactly Dame Lillard, when you consider the fact that a good number of his 3s are tough pullups out of the pick and roll his percentages are pretty respectable. Time will tell if he ever gets a quick enough trigger (he is often hesitant to pull up and also does not have the quickest release) to become a true threat on pullup threes, but I won’t be worried about a lack of shooting from him going forwards. Beyond that though, these are mostly just silver linings.
One silver lining is the idea that since he was robbed of a lot of the burst and explosion that he’s relied on so much in his career, he was forced to play offense with a bit more nuance and trust his jumper more. A similar thing happened with his passing, he couldn’t do as much on his own, and he was forced to pass the ball more and try and find smarter passes that were not just “I’m going to draw extra guys by driving to the basket and find the open guy.” Both of these things, in theory, will combine to make him a better player once he is all the way healthy again.
The only other thing that could be taken as good, is that despite clearly not being 100%, by goodness he tried. I couldn’t find a clip of it anywhere unfourtunately, but I remember last year when the Pistons were playing at Oracle and Reggie hurt his knee, he was limping and visibly struggling, but he refused a timeout, hobbled his ass up the court and into a pick and roll, and hit a layup as time expired at the end of the half. He regularly played through various tweaks and boo boos that would visibly bother him. Dude is a warrior and wants to play, and even if it turned out that he wasn’t really ready to play, I still give him credit for trying.
Reggie Jackson was pretty bad all season. Mostly he fluctuated somewhere between mediocre and straight up bad with the occasional good game. Other than the month of February in which he put up very impressive numbers, his offensive output was pretty poor, and he looked off as well. He just wasn’t scaring defenses like he usually does and so the lanes, both driving and passing, were not open to him.
The biggest issue though, was his defense. Jackson has never been all that good of a defender, and even at his healthiest he doesn’t have the speed/quickness to be a top flight defender. But he has excellent length, size, and strength for a point guard which allowed him to guard wings with some respectability and at the end of games he was capable of really locking in and being an absolute pest for a few minutes. Even though it has always been somewhat a point of frustration in his career that he can’t lock in defensively all the time, it generally worked out ok for him to be a positive overall, even if not much of a positive. This year, he was too slow, to the point that his kind of trying form of defense no longer cut it at any level, and he couldn’t turn it up for stretches either. He was a wreck on the defensive end, and that is really where he fell apart in the biggest way this year. Offensively he struggled, but he still did enough that he was worthwhile, defensively he was so bad that it was painful to watch at times.
His outside shooting is probably not going to be a problem going forwards. That is really the only one, because this season created a bunch of questions about Reggie that hadn’t been there before. But once again, 2 seasons of 35%+ which include a fair amount of difficult off the dribble looks from deep is a decent enough sample size to start to put some amount of trust into it for the future.
This post is assuming he will come back healthy, but whether or not that is true is THE question the Pistons have to answer. If they are actually as confident in him as they have made it sound then there is no way you trade him this offseason, he is an excellent player in his prime on a good contract and his value will be super low. But if they are not so sure, then his future with the team is in serious jeopardy. This question is right there with “How much are we comfortable with overpaying KCP?” in terms of importance, and given that KCP is a role player whereas the team is currently built 40% around Reggie Jackson (with 60% being Drummond) this is probably more important than KCP. This is a particularly painful question for fans because there is no way for us to know since we can’t see the workouts, practices, medical reports, and meetings. It is purely something we will have to wait and find out about.
The verdict for this year and beyond?
Essentially a lost season for Reggie, and that made it a mostly lost season for the Pistons. When one of the two guys you’ve built your team around is hurt all year, that is what happens. The outlook for the future all depends on his health. As far as I understand, there shouldn’t be any lingering effects for Reggie, he had the exact same thing done earlier in his career, but it wasn’t supposed to have lasting impacts even into this past season and that clearly wasn’t the case. If he is going to be healthy, he should and will be back in full force, ready to run pick and rolls all game again. If he isn’t healthy to the point he was this year, then the Pistons need to find a new starting point guard somehow, and that might mean a total teardown of the current team. Lets hope he is healthy.
What do you think? Do you have faith in his jumper going forwards? Will he be healthy?