If Pistons Decide to Add a Point-Guard, Who Should they Target?
On the eve of the Detroit Pistons preseason opener, ESPN reporter Marc Stein sent shock waves through the Pistons fan base when he tweeted Reggie Jackson may miss time to start the season. Later in the day, Pistons Coach/President of Basketball Operations, Stan Van Gundy, confirmed that Reggie Jackson may miss up to 6-8 weeks.
Piston writers and fans have had almost a day to process this devastating news, now, and for most, they’re still in shock. Immediately both groups speculated if Stan Van Gundy will look to free agency or make a trade to find a stopgap for the time that Jackson could miss. At this point, neither is necessary. Ish Smith will be the starting point guard for the Pistons until Jackson returns. However, since Jackson has dealt with knee tendinitis for the last 3 years, it is very possible that he may miss more time throughout the season. Can Stan Van Gundy trust Lorenzo Brown or Ray McCallum Jr. to run his second team offense if Jackson misses substantial time? Time will tell. But, the fact that the Pistons have already reached out to Norris Cole is interesting.
Reports from Auburn Hills state that the Pistons checked in on Cole but they were too late. Cole had already signed a deal to play in China for the Shangdon Golden Stars. Cole, who averaged 10.6 points and 3.7 assists per game in 2015-16, was SVG’s first and best free agent option. That said, here are the top remaining point guards who are still available.
Mario Chalmers: Before tearing his Achilles in March while playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, Super Mario averaged 10.8 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game with a true shooting percentage of 57 percent. If Reggie was to miss several additional weeks/months, the Pistons would need Mario’s scoring and ball handling abilities. Defensively, Chlamers would be more than capable of checking most team’s second string point guard. Chalmers, now 30-years-old, would also serve as a mentor to this young group. As of August 25th, Mario has been cleared by doctors to return to the court. If Reggie misses time later in this season, Mario should be healthy and could fight for a starting spot. The Pistons have considered him to replace Jackson.
Kirk Hinrich: Over the last 13 NBA seasons, Hinrich has shown the ability to effectively run an offense (career 2.63 assists/turnover ratio) and serviceably shoot the three pointer (career 37.5%). Although way past his prime, the 35-year-old Hinrich would serve as good veteran presence while still being an upgrade to Steve Blake’s abysmal defense. Per 100 possessions, Hinrich’s defensive rating is 105, while Blake’s is 110.
Steve Blake: As much as Pistons fans do not want Steve Blake back, he wouldn’t be the worst option. Last year for the Pistons, Blake played in 58 games and averaged 4.4 points and 3.4 assists in 17 minutes. Blake’s small upside is that he already knows the playbook and he is adequate in SVG’s pick-and-roll offense. That will play a major factor in his benifit now that training camp is over. Detroit is reportedly considering him as well.
Andre Miller: Although Andre Miller may have played his last game in the NBA, the 17-year-veteran is not officially retired. Last year on the Spurs, Andre played 13.9 minutes per game and averaged 4.3 points with 2.2 assists. Andre is exactly the type of veteran point guard SVG prefers but his three point shooting is awful (career 21.7%) and similar to Blake, he cannot play defense.
For now, it is best that the Pistons do not make any moves. The free agency pool is too shallow and making a trade is completely unnecessary. For the next 6-8 weeks, Ish will start at point guard and either Brown or MaCallum will serve as back up. However, if Reggie ends up missing more time, Mario Chalmers should be SVG’s first call.
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