The Pistons have long been a team that lives and dies by their point guards. When Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith were both healthy, which has not been very often the last few seasons, the team has played their best basketball. Whatever your thoughts are on Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith as players, they formed a very solid point guard rotation the last few seasons and replacing Ish Smith’s departure was going to be tough.
Luckily, the Pistons were able to sign Derrick Rose to replace Ish Smith and Tim Frazier to replace Jose Calderon as the third point guard.
Reggie Jackson: The Known Commodity
At this point, most of you know what you are getting from Reggie Jackson. He is a player that thrives with the ball in his hands and is able to attack the defense with his solid handle and is always looking to score. He leaves a lot to be desired in the distribution department and defensively.
However, last season Reggie Jackson added a wrinkle to his game that allows him to fit with Blake Griffin better, that is catch-and-shoot shooting. He shot 39.6 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last season on 3.9 attempts per game. Catch-and-shoot 3s also comprised 30.9 percent of his 3-point field goal attempts last season.
This allows him to play more of a secondary ball handler role with Blake Griffin as the primary ball handler, and allows him to fit the best with Blake Griffin in the starting lineup.
How Derrick Rose fits with Reggie Jackson
Dwane Casey is a coach who loves his point guards, so it is not only important to have multiple point guards who can be relied on, but also point guards that will be able to play together. Although it is not a perfect fit, especially defensively, Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson should be able to play together. They both thrive with the ball in their hands, but Reggie Jackson showed last season that he can take more of an off-the-ball role with his ability to knock down catch-and-shoot 3s. That allows Rose to have the ball in his hands and Reggie Jackson to play a similar role he had while playing with Blake Griffin as the primary initiator. However, the viability of all three players playing together is questionable because there is only one basketball on the court.
Although Rose and Smith are not the same kind of player, he should be an upgrade over Smith. Both players are change of pace point guards who thrive with the ball in their hands. While Ish Smith is more of a distributor, Derrick Rose is more of an offensive threat who should thrive off the bench as the primary scorer. He probably won’t push the pace as much as Ish Smith, but it’ll be close, and Rose still be a change of pace from the more methodical Jackson.
Rose is also bigger Ish Smith, as he is listed at 6-foot-3. This should allow Rose to handle bigger guards better than Smith could and allow Jackson and Rose to play in the same backcourt and still be able to switch defensively. Dwane Casey loved his two point-guard lineups, and now he has the ability to do it in Detroit. The Rose and Jackson duo could even finish a lot of games this season.
If you look at Rose in a vacuum and ignore the potential for injury, you are getting a dynamic scorer who is a far better player than Smith, which improves the point guard rotation overall.
How Tim Frazier fits with the team
Although Reggie Jackson was able to play all 82 games last season, he still has a shaky injury history. As many of you know, Derrick Rose also has a storied career in injury rehab and the trainer’s room. This is where Tim Frazier comes in. The Pistons have had issues in the past when one of Jackson or Smith were injured because they did not have a reliable third point guard.
The rotating gauntlet of bad third point guards includes the likes of Dwight Buycks, Jose Calderon, and Jameer Nelson. Tim Frazier is a player who has been around the league for a while, but has also spent a lot of time as a backup point guard. He should have no issues with stepping in if either of Jackson or Rose get hurt.
Frazier spent time with both Milwaukee and New Orleans last season as a backup point guard, he even started 17 games for New Orleans. His numbers were nothing special, but he shot 35% from 3-point range with New Orleans and 42% with Milwaukee. He can hit a few threes, run the offense (4.2 assists per game last season), and most importantly, not get run off the court while out there.
The Final Verdict
Overall, the Pistons point guard rotation is improved from last season. Simply having Frazier as the third point guard already made the rotation better, but a healthy Rose is also an upgrade over Smith. If the Pistons can get a repeat of last year’s performance out of Reggie Jackson, especially his 2nd half numbers where he looked a lot healther, they should have a very good point guard rotation.
One thing that will be missed is Ish Smith’s speed with the ball. He was not afraid to get out and run and it overcame some of the Pistons deficiencies in shot creating from their bench unit. Even if Derrick Rose is not able to replicate the speed that Ish Smith would play with, his ability to create his own shot should be beneficial off the bench and alleviate some of the issues with playing a bit slower.
The big knock on the Pistons rotation is obviously health. Derrick Rose has a history of random nagging injuries during the season, and outside of last season Reggie Jackson is in the same boat. If the Pistons are able to get a combined 150 games out of Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson, they could have one of the better point guard rotations in the league and have a solid position for the playoffs. If both players struggle with injuries, it could be a long season in the D.