When Reggie Bullock re-signed with the Pistons on a two year, $5 million contract on July 10 it was viewed as a cheap signing to fill one of the final roster spots on the team. Reggie Bullock had proven to be a reliable shooter who could step in and start in a pinch and not bring the team down.
After serving a five-game suspension to start the season for violating the NBA’s drug policy, Bullock got off to his usual slow start shooting the ball. After Stanley Johnson went down with an injury, Bullock stepped into the starting role, seized his opportunity, and never looked back.
I have always been a huge fan of Reggie Bullock, but if I told you that I saw this breakout coming for Reggie Bullock this season I would be a liar. In my five bold predictions for the 2017-2018 season piece, I predicted Reggie Bullock to start 25 or more games. His 52 starts this season went way above that. I also wrote the Reggie Bullock preview before the season and predicted some pretty modest numbers for the fifth year swingman. My stats predictions for him are as follows: 70 games played, 15 games started, 16 minutes per game, 5.1 points per game, 1.6 assists per game, 1.5 rebounds per game, .5 steals per game, .2 blocks per game on 43/40/81 shooting.
To say that Bullock blew those numbers out of the water would be an understatement. As mentioned above he started 52 games out of 62 games played, both a career-high. He was second in the league with a 3-point percentage of 44.5 percent on 4.5 attempts per game. I don’t even need to follow any of these numbers with “career-high” because literally all of the numbers Bullock put up this season are career-highs. He averaged 11.3 points per game and a true shooting percentage of 61.5 percent.
Reggie Bullock didn’t really add much to his game. He has always been a very good cutter who can defend his position and knock down the three ball. He is not going to provide you a whole lot in terms of ball handling, but he has ideal skillset for a modern NBA wing. The biggest reason for his breakout this season has been getting an opportunity.
Reggie Bullock has always been a player who never really gotten much of a chance to play. In Reggie Bullock’s previous four seasons he played a total of 1967 minutes. This season, Bullock played 1732 minutes. Bullock appears to be a player who needs to play to get himself into rhythm, and that opportunity has never really been present during his previous four seasons.
When Reggie Bullock was getting sporadic minutes during his first couple seasons on the Pistons, his shooting numbers were abysmal (take a look at his shooting percentages at the All Star Break during the 2015-2016 season). When Bullock first came back from suspension and was getting sporadic minutes, his shooting numbers were abysmal. Once he got the chance in the starting lineup, his numbers exploded. As a starter, Bullock averaged 12.8 points and shot 46 percent from three. In 10 games off the bench, he only averaged 3 points and shot 20 percent from 3-point range.
All of these numbers prove that much of Bullock’s breakout can be attributed to finally getting a chance to play consistently. Obviously Bullock deserves credit for getting himself in shape to play heavy minutes as a starter and being a legit shooter so that his numbers translate to more attempts.
There are not a ton of weaknesses to Bullock’s game that cause too many issues. As mentioned above, he is not much of a ball handler, but the Pistons have players like Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Stanley Johnson who are capable ball handlers. Reggie Bullock knows his limitations and tries to limit his time handling the ball. He camps out in the corners for catch-and-shoot opportunities, makes opportunistic cuts, and moves the ball when he doesn’t have an open shot.
He also is not the quickest player, which causes some issues defensively when guarding quicker players. Bullock uses his 6’7 frame well defensively and is strong enough to guard some of the bigger wings of the league, but can get beat by quicker wings. It is one of the reasons why I like him better at the small forward position, which is likely where his future is if Luke Kennard develops how we all hope.
All signs point to Reggie Bullock’s breakout in 2017-2018 being legit. He isn’t going to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award because that award is all but locked up by Victor Oladipo. However, he at least deserves some consideration for it because he has transformed himself into a player who could be a solid starter on a lot of different teams.
The biggest challenge comes for the Pistons if this breakout is in fact legit and carries over to next season. The Pistons have a team option for next season on Bullock’s contract that will only cost them $2.5 million. It would be absolutely asinine to not accept that option, especially with the Pistons current cap situation. The challenge comes in trying to keep Bullock beyond next season. Bullock might have been able to get more money on the open market last offseason, but opted to stay in Detroit where he was comfortable and take a pretty cheap contract.
Teams will pay very good 3-and-D wings a decent sum of money in free agency. The Pistons do not have a decent sum of money to try and keep Bullock. This breakout season has put Bullock on the maps of other teams and there is no way he goes unnoticed in free agency if he plays like he did last season.
Obviously these are issues for the future and the Pistons can enjoy Bullock’s solid production on one of the best value contracts in the league.