The Reggie Jackson you see now is not the Reggie Jackson you remember.
That guy’s not coming back.
Frustrating. Polarizing. Electric. The confident point guard who thrived in the clutch, helping to lift the Detroit Pistons to their first playoff appearance in damn-near a decade is, well, no more.
Jackson has spent the past two seasons searching for that swagger.
The results have been less than ideal early this season.
Jackson is shooting a 38.2 percent from the field, his worst mark since his rookie season with the Thunder. He’s hitting just 31 percent from three-point range, which is down from the encouraging 35.6 percent he shot from 2014-17.
Nobody has been impacted more adversely by head coach Dwane Casey’s shift in offensive philosophy than Jackson. Unlike previous seasons, he’s not pounding the rock and probing for openings every trip down court. There aren’t 500 pick-and-roll situations every game.
And those nifty step-back jumpers from a few feet inside the three-point line? Gone.
The Pistons are taking more three-pointers than ever — and running far less offense through Jackson — which, most times, has rendered him as a standstill three-point shooter.
Nearly 36 percent of Jackson’s shots under Casey have been of the catch-and-shoot variety. That’s way up from 11.6 percent during his masterful 2015-16 season, one in which he spent most of his time attacking the rim.
This Jackson gets into the paint less (31.6 percent of the time now versus 43 percent of the time then) and shoots worse (45.8 percent versus 55.2 percent) when he gets into the restricted area.
It’s a byproduct of how he’s being used.
Jackson’s dribble-heavy style can work when he has the ball all game. It works late in games, like last week’s win over the Rockets, when he took advantage of overmatched (or apathetic) defenders like James Harden.
Most of the time, though, Jackson is camped out at the top of the arc hoisting three-pointers at a 29 percent clip.
Finding balance is key. Jackson should experience some positive regression as the season goes on. He takes far too many “wide open” threes (29.4 percent of his attempts come without a defender within six feet) to keep missing like this.
Teams will continue to formulate new ways to defend Blake Griffin, who will have to continue to adjust. The Pistons will eventually need Jackson’s shot creation as the year progresses.
Without the shot-creating wing that rules the NBA, the Pistons are need somebody else to create and score off the bounce.
Jackson is routinely mentioned in the same breath as Griffin and Andre Drummond as a part of Detroit’s “Big Three.” In reality, it’s more of a “Big Two and Reggie.”
His once-attacking style hasn’t aged well after knee and ankle injuries. He’s never going to reach the level of Griffin or Drummond. Jackson is done being a leading man, but I don’t think he’s done as a helpful player.
He’s shown signs these past three games, all wins, averaging 21 points and 6 assists per game. He’s getting to the line. He’s creating off the bounce. He’s playing more like he’s accustomed to playing.
The new Reggie is not the old Reggie.
But, right now, all the Pistons need is a good Reggie.