Perhaps the best time to write a Christmas-themed post is not directly after you see your favorite team get shellacked by the Dallas Mavericks, including being down as many as 24 points.
But today’s the day and, frankly, I think most Pistons fans see the writing on the wall, and have for much of the season — this team isn’t going far until it has a true No. 1 scoring option on the team.
How do I define a No. 1 scoring option?
A player who can create their own offense. A player who can create for others. A player with the kind of gravitational pull that creates the clean looks for other players with more limited skill sets.
As much as Andre Drummond has grown at the free-throw line and as a passer, you can’t just give him the ball and expect him to create offense. As much as Tobias Harris is a versatile and dangerous scorer, he can’t distribute in a way that makes life easier for everyone else. Avery Bradley is best as a No. 2 or No. 3 option cutting and shooting. The more he tries to create his own offense the more he jacks up 20-footers and gets his shot blocked at the rim. No thanks.
And Reggie Jackson .... jesus. He’s Reggie Jackson. Whether it’s skill level, fatigue or a long-term health issue, you just can’t count on him consistently night in and night out.
What the Pistons are currently proving, and have been for about 20 games now, is that a team with no No. 1 option can be much less than the sum of its parts offensively.
Tobias Harris has cooled off, but he’s still a dangerous perimeter threat, a quality mid-range shooter, a guy who can post up and drive to the basket. Anthony Tolliver, Langston Galloway, Luke Kennard and Avery Bradley are and always will be 3-point threats.
Point Drummond isn’t really Point Drummond (unless you’re imbibing on a little too much Christmas cheer), but, damn it, he’s really dangerous even with his current skill set.
But there is no straw to stir the drink. There is nobody that can overcome an off night from the 3-point threats or Tobias and Avery during an off night. The team can be extremely successful, and had a top-10 offense, when everyone was firing on all cylinders.
But it never made sense to think that everyone playing at peak performance would be the norm. Every player has off nights, even the greats. And B-plus level players have even more off nights.
Nothing creates consistency like a true No. 1 scoring threat. So what do you think, Santa? You have anything in that magical bag for poor Pistons fans down in the dumps during this holiday season that also seems to be their favorite team’s toughest stretch of the schedule?
We’ve been good for damn near the past 10 years waiting for a Christmas miracle. The fans at least, the team ... not so much.