The Detroit Pistons finished a disappointing 37-45 last season. As the team looks to improve and regain a spot in the playoffs, Detroit Bad Boys is examining three things each player can do to improve their game and improve the chance the team wins. Whether you’re new to the game or a season Pistons watcher, these are important factors that anyone can appreciate and will help you understand and evaluate Detroit’s team as we get ready for the 2017-18 season.
No more half measures
Health. Reggie Jackson. Health. I almost didn’t include this sentiment because, really, no shit. Jackson was injured last season and a shell of a shell of his former self. He was quite literally the worst regular rotation player in the NBA last season. He was so bad last season that people are forgetting just how effective he was the year before. He was super effective on offense and not nearly as dreadful on defense. If Jackson is healthy and in shape and ready to be effective, he should be the starting point guard of the Detroit Pistons. If he is injured, or slow or not explosive he should come off the bench or not play at all. What Stan Van Gundy did last year in bringing him back and instantly anointing him a starter who would play 30 minutes per game and have the entire offense run through him torpedoed the season. Moral of the story is SVG chose a half measure when he should have gone all the way. He must never make that mistake again. No more half measures, Walter.
Get back to 10 drives per game
There are all kinds of fascinating signals you can find as you dig through the numbers to figure out what the hell made Jackson so ineffective last season. For instance, did you know that Jackson had the best shooting year in the past four from 10-14 feet, 15-19 feet, 20-24 feet and 25-29 feet? He’s been working on his jumper ever since he came to Detroit and it really showed. The only problem was he was shooting so many damn jumpers because his explosion was gone and he couldn’t get by the defenders who were sagging off of him. He also had his worst year from less than 5 feet and 5-9 feet. Another big sign that something was wrong physically with Jackson was his lack of driving to the basket. His 7.0 drives per game last season was his worst output since 2013-14 as a bit player in OKC. It was also much less than the 10.6 drives he averaged the year before. His other indicators on drives were all down as well, from shooting, to drawing fouls to passing. If Jackson is driving the lane again that means his burst is back and he’s helping Detroit.
Fight through screens
I’m putting away the stat sheet and going right to the eye test on this one — Jackson is terrible at navigating through screens and it short circuits the defense all too often. He has a propensity to go way under screens to change his route and body position to avoid and get through screens (which slows him way down), or, worse yet he’ll try and go so far above the screen he’s on the wrong side of the offensive player and huge lanes open up. I’m not saying Jackson needs to be a great on-ball defender. But he needs to play better team defense, have better situational awareness and fight through more screens.