Reggie Jackson was ecstatic when he was traded to the Pistons over the Feb. 19 deadline. After living in the shadow of Russell Westbrook, the time had come for Jackson to prove to everyone that he was the player he thought he was. Stan Van Gundy assured him that it was his team, and that no matter what, Detroit would look to retain his services once the season ended.
The Jackson-led Pistons are now 1-6. The recent losses compounded by the lack of consistency on either side of the ball, Detroit has practically managed to play itself out of playoff contention after swinging a trade that was supposed to do the opposite.
The fault isn't solely Jackson's, though. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks continue to be non-factors on offense; Tayshaun Prince and Andre Drummond have never been offensive juggernauts; and there is only so much Greg Monroe can do to keep the sinking ship that is the Pistons afloat.
Coach Van Gundy is at a loss for words to explain the funk his team currently finds itself in, but puts his faith in a Reggie Jackson trying to handle the reins of a team that has seen more roster moves this season than previously accustomed to. SVG knows that part of the reason for the team's struggles rests on the lack of chemistry between the players taking the court, but Jackson and the Pistons aren't calling it quits just yet. Per Geoff Robinson at The Detroit News:
"We don't think we're out of it yet. We just got to turn the season around now. We can't keep giving games away. We feel like we've given away four of the last six. We'll continue to get better. Time is not our friend right now. We just got to put our foot down on the gas and make something happen."
Something most definitely needs to happen. With the Pistons sitting five games behind the eighth seed, there is only so many times the team can lose before they miss out on yet another playoff appearance. In a season that has jolted Pistons fans up and down, some semblance of a post-season appearance may help mellow the fan base and the organization before what could be considered one of the most important free agencies in recent franchise memory.
The trade deadline has left the team with more questions than answers, but it could go a long way to answering a few of them if the Pistons buckled down and made an actual push for the playoffs. Reggie Jackson is the new de facto leader of this team. Let's hope he ends up bringing as much success to Motown as he previously envisioned.