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Pistons Tune Up: Reggie Bullock needs to capitalize on chances

The Pistons got Bullock back for a song. Now what?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Stay Healthy

Personally, I think this one is a myth. I don’t think he’s nearly as deserving of the “injury prone” label that is so casually slapped on him. Yes, he had some back spasms last year that got in the way of making a legitimate push for the rotation early on. But the torn meniscus was just some bad luck. He’s never played more than 43 games in a season, but that’s more of a matter of not being a rotation guy for teams rather than injuries.

Still, Bullock passed on an extension last fall and his gamble didn’t pay off. He’s back in Detroit on a two-year, $5 million bargain contract. If he stays healthy, he could find himself in a C.J. Miles type of situation. Miles’ career took a while to get traction too before he finally distinguished himself in Indiana and landed a $25 million contract this summer.

Come Out Fast

Each of the past two years Stanley Johnson has struggled, which gave way to a shot at the rotation for Bullock. Last year he got hurt once he got his chance. In 2015-16 he shot 5 percent from the field before the All Star break. That remains one of my all time favorite stats.

During his time with the Pistons, Bullock has overall been a legitimately good player. As SVG said, the team plays better when he’s on the court. His shooting line has been 43/40/86. For the worst true shooting percentage team in the league over that time, that’s dang good! His timing has just been terrible.

With Marcus Morris entrenched as the starter and needing to get Johnson minutes to develop, Bullock has just regularly found himself as the odd man out. But really, Bullock probably ought to be the starting small forward for this team. Johnson is the presumptive starter, but the best reason for it is “Well, we used the eighth pick in the draft on him back in 2015, so I guess we’d better.” But Bullock has been the clearly superior player over that stretch.

The roster is light on guys who can spend minutes at small forward. If Johnson continues to struggle as mightily on the offensive end as he has so far in his career, Bullock will get his chance. If he knocks down 40 percent of his threes, stays active, plays tough defense, stays healthy, well, that’ll do the job of seizing it. And it could make him a lot of money.

Bullock Cuts

Bullock cuts were one of my favorite part of 2016-17. All of these.

It highlights the best part of what Bullock can potentially offer. He’s a smart player who does a lot of things that the team needs. He’s just kind of tantalizing and at 26 years old tantalizing becomes less tantalizing.