Cleat Geeks

Goin’ to Work: Who Will Fill in for Reggie Jackson

My latest Pistons season preview piece gave a broad overview of what to expect for this upcoming season. But there is one particular storyline that is sticking out like a sore thumb (or knee, to be more technical about it) to all of Pistons nation.

So let’s address the elephant in the room: due to ongoing knee tendinitis issues the Pistons will be without Reggie Jackson, their starting point guard, a potential all-star and franchise cornerstone, until December, most likely. Earlier this week he received platelet rich plasma, or PRP, injections and was spotted on crutches at the Pistons practice facility. Surgery will not be needed. Along with missing Jackson’s leadership, the team is now without a player who can contribute nearly 19 points and six assists per game, as well as logging 30 minutes of court time night in, night out.ishsmith

So, as it stands right now, here is what the Pistons have lined up to hold down the fort.

Stan Van Gundy said the team would explore the market for options. But with the point guard market being as thin as it is, Ish Smith, as expected, will be taking on a bulk of the responsibility. He is no stranger to starting games, serving as the main man in Philadelphia during his 50 game stint last season. He is capable of logging minutes (32.4 per game  w/Philly) and put up favorable stats (14.7 ppg, 7 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.6 TO) in that time. However, his shooting isn’t the most reliable. While a bit over 40% isn’t awful, it certainly isn’t ideal. Luckily for Ish he is surrounded by capable scorers in Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond, and, in a pinch, Marcus Morris. Harris and Morris add high short to mid-range reliability and moderate threat from beyond the arc, while Drummond can handle the post and close game, so long as he is not hacked and put on the free throw line with regularity. Jon Leuer, Aron Baynes, Boban Marjanovic, and Stanley Johnson will add options in the second unit.

However, besides compensating for starting minutes there are still 15 to 18 minutes per game for the Pistons to pick up. And depth is thin after Ish. After two preseason games, Lorenzo Brown, a late addition last season, sits as the backup, followed by Ray McCallum, another preseason roster hopeful (per RealGM).

The question lies with these two and how capable they will be in serving in a backup role for a team looking to contend. Both have experience in logging bigger minutes, with Brown and McCallum logging career highs of 18.9 and 21.1 minutes per game, respectively, in the 2014-15 season, with the latter serving as a starter in 30 of 68 games played. But both predominantly served as backups, roles in which they proved to be relatively efficient. Brown holds an edge over McCallum, as he has experience backing up an injured Ricky Rubio with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2014-15 season. I won’t put a lot of faith in their basic statistics, as both were on teams in the Wolves (Brown, also Sixers and Suns) and Kings (McCallum, also limited play with Spurs and Grizzlies) that have offered little to support them (At least not as much as this Pistons team).

To me, this is the right move. Options were available at the beginning of the off-season in Shane Larkin and Norris Cole, but both have since signed internationally. Two other names, Kendall Marshall and Steve Blake, stick out to the fan’s eye, but there are reasons that each were not and should not be considered.

For Marshall, he served as Ish Smith’s backup in Philadelphia and would not serve as an upgrade to either in-house option that the Pistons currently have. For Blake, see above and remember that he’s fresh to the free agent market this off-season because the Pistons released him. Signing him would be repetition of an already failed experiment: aged, slow point guard good for his three-point shot and nothing else on a team of younger players.

While not an ideal situation for SVG and Co., it’s far from time to panic. Early December is much closer than it seems and Reggie will be back before we know it, but the team is in reliable hands with Ish, Zo, and McCallum at the helm. The team around them will help exponentially and Jackson will only make the team, which should already be playing well, even better.

Any options you think would have been an upgrade over the in house setup? Reasons to panic? Post them below!


Leave a Reply


If you like this site or just simply want to school your friends because you got the information first.  

Join us on the field! Click on any of the links below.

%d bloggers like this: