The boogeymen are gone. There are no more monsters under the bed. No more young men fans can berate and belittle on Twitter and Instagram with calls of “lazy,” “out of shape” “idiot” or “diva.”
Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson can’t hurt you anymore, Pistons fans.
Drummond, traded for nothing to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jackson, waived so he could catch on with the Los Angeles Clippers, somehow became a symbol of everything wrong with the Detroit Pistons.
This despite the fact that the two were, on a talent level, two of the only things that have gone right in Detroit since Dre was drafted out of UConn in 2012. When the two were on the court together the team was actually pretty damn good.
Maybe that’s the point.
I mean, I get it. Drummond wasn’t paid the max to be good and Jackson was supposed to signal an ascension to the next level for a dormant franchise hoping to compete.
But let me be straight with you — Dre and Jackson were not perfect players, far from it, in fact, but they were not the reason the Pistons have been irrelevant for the past decade. You know the phrase “a symptom and not the disease?” That’s them. More apt might actually be to say that were medicine when all a fan base would accept is a miracle cure.
They couldn’t solve all the franchise’s problems or myriad missteps, but somehow that translated into receiving the brunt of abuse from an angry fanbase.
It’s not Jackson or Drummond’s fault they gladly accepted life-changing contracts from highly paid basketball executives. Jackson didn’t release Spencer Dinwiddie or throw Khris Middleton into a trade or draft Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker.
Drummond did not force the Pistons to sign Josh Smith to the largest contract in franchise history or trade the franchise’s previous biggest fee agency blunder, Ben Gordon, away with a valuable first-round pick attached as bait. Dre didn’t stretch Smith’s contract (that the franchise is still paying off, by the way) to open up a free agent war chest that amassed Ish Smith, Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic.
Drummond and Jackson were the franchise’s two most talented players but they were usually surrounded by teammates severely lacking in ball handling, defense and perimeter shooting ability.
It’s a miracle that the team played as well as they did under the circumstances. The Pistons were one game below .500 in games Jackson played which doesn’t sound like much until you realize the Pistons are much more familiar with winning percentages in the mid-thirties than the breakeven point.
The problem, of course, is that Jackson rarely played. He has been plagued with injuries throughout his tenure. Drummond has been a workhorse, but he’s plagued with being a traditional big man in a new era of basketball.
He never developed range, which is OK, but he also never developed the kind of lockdown defense you need from big men to compensate for a lack off offensive diversity.
Drummond needed to be surrounded by shooters and playmakers and he never was. Fans complained about his offense endlessly, but it did Dre no favors when he was often the best or second best offensive player on the floor.
Jackson was called a prima donna for wanting a starting role and having an inflated sense of self. But he was the best Detroit had, honestly. Who was the second-best ball handler and palymaker after Jackson? It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s one Detroit fans suffered through often because Jackson would go down and send Detroit’s offensive production down with him.
The blame for all this, of course, lies with owner Tom Gores and the men he hired to guide this franchise. First Joe Dumars then Stan Van Gundy and now Ed Stefanski.
The jury is still out on Stefanski but we have a good sense of just how hopeless his predecessors were in their roles. But for some reason fans hurled one-tenth the invective they sent to players.
Honestly, I’m glad Dre and Jackson are gone. They were not part of the future of the franchise and I was tired of recycling the same arguments for and against both players endlessly in a spin cycle for five-plus years.
They are gone. A win for Stefanski and the franchise and the fans. I just hope the angriest among us can either chill out or start directing their ire where it truly belongs. In the executive suites.