If you had not heard, Reggie Jackson is out for at least the next 6-8 weeks with an ankle injury. And while an ankle injury can be serious, it is a relatively common injury for basketball players and one that usually doesn’t hold them back too much after recovery.
However, this ankle injury could signify the end of the Reggie Jackson era in Detroit. I’m sure you remember this same sentiment being posted on this website at the end of last season after Reggie Jackson was shut down for the rest of the season.
The circumstances have changed and the Pistons are no longer able to wait for Reggie Jackson to recover from yet another injury.
Whether you trust Ish Smith to man the starting point guard spot for at least the next two months is beside the point (I don’t trust him). All that you have to do is remember who the President of the Detroit Pistons is to know that this is very likely the end of the Reggie Jackson era.
The Pistons currently sit at 19-14, fourth in the East. Stan Van Gundy is into his fourth season and has one playoff appearance to show for it. While he may or may not be on the hot seat, the pressure is on to not only make the playoffs, but actually make a bit of noise in the playoffs as well.
You aren’t going to do that with a point guard rotation of Ish Smith and Langston Galloway. Ish Smith can keep this team afloat, as he did last season when Reggie Jackson missed the first two months of the season with knee tendinitis, but staying afloat is not going to be good enough for Stan Van Gundy.
Ish Smith’s lack of shooting can be covered by the fast pace he plays off the bench, but as a starter the team is limited on how well they can do with non-shooters at point guard and center. Langston Galloway has been a solid piece off the bench at shooting guard because he can just catch-and-shoot. Trusting him to run an offense and get other players involved is putting way too much trust in a player who has never shown the ability to do that (career 13.8 assist percentage). Just to put that in perspective, Reggie Jackson’s is at 29.9 for his career.
If you remember back to January 24, 2015, the Pistons were riding high and playing well after releasing Josh Smith. Brandon Jennings was playing the best basketball of his career, and appeared to be finally turning the corner. It was a small sample size of about eight games, but the once highly sought after prospect appeared to be finally putting it together. On that night, Brandon Jennings would go down with a torn Achilles.
That injury would end his reign as the starting point guard of the Detroit Pistons, as Stan Van Gundy would go out and make a trade for Reggie Jackson to be the point guard of the future. The Pistons were in a different situation back then, as they were in no position to make the playoffs, let alone make some noise. However, Stan Van Gundy wasn’t willing to wait around for Brandon Jennings to recover and the uncertainty that would come with his recovery.
The Pistons have now reached a similar point with Reggie Jackson. After injuries in two consecutive seasons and the Pistons in the thick of the playoff race, Stan Van Gundy is not going to wait around for Reggie Jackson to recover and the uncertainty that comes with his recovery.
The Pistons don’t have a ton of assets, but they have a few. They have first round draft picks, Stanley Johnson, Henry Ellenson, and even Luke Kennard. While many people hoped those assets would be used to acquire a better starting small forward (sorry Reggie Bullock), it wouldn’t surprise me to now see Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower shift their focus to acquiring a new point guard.
Maybe the Charlotte Hornets could be talked into trading Kemba Walker as they continue to fall down the standings with yet another disappointing season. Maybe Stan Van Gundy could acquire Emmanuel Mudiay or Elfrid Payton and work his magic to shape them into his point guard of the future. Maybe they find another option that isn’t even on our radar right now.
If Ish Smith enters the starting lineup and the Pistons continue to win and play well, then Reggie Jackson is not going to get his starting spot back upon his return. If the team just stays afloat and plays at or slightly below .500 over the next month, Stan Van Gundy is not going to hesitate to make a move for an upgrade.
In either scenario, the Reggie Jackson era in Detroit is over.