The Pistons are 3-7 since Reggie Jackson’s injury. He’s not returning any time soon, and who knows what he will be when he returns. Piston fans already know what a hampered Jackson look like, and it isn’t much better than whats going on now.
The Pistons have been absolutely dreadful since Jackson went down. Using stats tweeted out by The Athletic writer Duncan Smith, the Pistons are 25th in Offensive Rating, 21st in eFG, 24th in True Shooting, and 27th in Rebounding.
It can’t be entirely blamed on the Jackson injury either. Stanley Johnson has been dealing with a hip injury, and it’s speculated that this hip injury has been affecting Johnson since the start of the season.
Avery Bradley has been dealing with a groin injury since the end of December, and even though he played 35 minutes against the Toronto Raptors, he will be going to a specialist on Thursday to get it checked out.
The Detroit Pistons are in trouble.
Stan Van Gundy is in trouble.
There’s only one way to save this sinking ship; and its to take a chance.
This team was 19-14 before Jackson went down, and was fighting for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference. While Jackson was playing very well this season, he’s not the SOLE reason the Pistons had success. Andre Drummond is shooting 63 percent from the strike, a 25 percent boost from last year. Drummond has become a facilitator in this motion offense, averaging 4 assists a game.
Tobias Harris was playing like an All-Star before this recent stretch, and is still hitting career highs. Harris is averaging 18.1 points a game, and is shooting 42 percent from three; both are career highs.
The bench was excelling with Ish Smith running the unit, and before Jackson’s injury, depth was considered a strength of this Pistons team. However, Smith has been forced into the starting lineup and that has caused spacing issues in the starting lineup, and the bench isn’t playing with the same pace it was with Smith.
The Pistons have wins over the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, and the Minnesota Timberwolves twice. The Pistons were very real before this Jackson injury, and it seemed keeping the core together was the right decision.
This is why the people saying to sell, and give up on the season in January are dead wrong.
Jackson was not the only reason this team was succeeding, and it’s extremely disrespectful to make it seem so. Drummond was killed last year for defense, energy, and free throw shooting. Harris needed to become a legit threat from three in order to reach his potential.
Both of these players did exactly that, and have both arguably (Drummond for sure) have played like All-Stars.
The team has pieces all over the roster. Drummond and Harris should be untouchables and looked at as the core. Luke Kennard has been a good draft pick, despite the fanfare for Donovan Mitchell. Smith is an excellent backup Point Guard. Johnson, despite his recent struggles, looked improved before the injury. He appeared to be excelling as the go-to guy on the bench before he started missing games again. Dwight Buycks looks to be a good scorer off the bench, and has made Smith somewhat expendable. Reggie Bullock has either improved, or has finally gotten his chance to show what he has always been capable of doing.
Quite simply, the Pistons are just missing a replacement for Jackson. Putting Smith in the starting lineup cannot work, because Smith can’t throw a rock into an ocean from beyond the arc.
And to throw away this season, when everyone has improved and has shown top 4 in the east potential, would be wrong and very depressing.
My solution to save the season: either trade for a Point Guard, or trade for a wing player who can create off the dribble and score.
To make it more simple: The Pistons have to take a chance.
The Pistons don’t have many trade assets, as many who follow the Pistons have pointed out repeatedly. But, if you noticed, I did not include a certain player above when I was mentioning pieces on this team.
That player is Bradley.
Van Gundy and the Pistons need to move Bradley. They need to do this soon.
I noted very early in the year I was discouraged by Bradley turning the ball over. I was told to chill out, and that it’s not as big of a deal as I thought.
It’s January and it’s as bad as I thought it was going to be. He’s averaging a career high 2.4 turnovers a game, but it feels like 10 a game. There’s a stat I found that I think is very telling. When the Pistons are up 1-5 points in the game, Bradley’s Turnover Ratio jumps to 15.1, his eFG is 39.6, and his True Shooting percentage is 41.7. To give you an idea of how bad this is, his overall eFG on the year is 48.4 and the True Shooting percentage is 50.7.
So, my thinking that Bradley has cost the Pistons quite a few games seems to be backed up by the stats.
Well, if Bradley is struggling Ku, why do you think another team would trade much for him?
Here’s why: Bradley is on an expiring contract which is always valuable. Also, Bradley would most certainly help another team in a lesser role than he has here. Bradley is also respected across the league for his toughness, and hard nosed defense.
Oh. Did I say I want to attach this years 1st rounder too?
I know many disagree with me here, but this is what it means to take a chance. Let me explain why this shouldn’t matter much to Van Gundy.
If the Pistons make a trade, it’ll be to boost the team so we can get back to where we were before the Jackson injury. So, if the trade pays off and the Pistons make the playoffs as the 5th seed, is losing a 18-23 pick really that bad? Obviously a first round pick is a first round pick, but the Pistons shouldn’t need that pick if they get to where they want. Along with this, if the Pistons were to attach a first rounder to any trade, SVG could also try to throw a bad contract in (Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Jackson) and make the pick the sweetener.
Also, Bradley being on that expiring contract means he isn’t even a guarantee to return next year. Would we even want him to return if we’ll have to offer a near max contract to him? I’d say a resounding HELL NO.
The Pistons need to take a chance and bet on themselves if they want to save a once promising season.
I’m not expecting the Pistons to trade for a star either. I’d like to see the Pistons trade for a player who is in a bad situation, or take a chance on a younger player who may be given up on. But honestly, the Pistons just need to trade for someone…anyone to help.
A trade for a point guard who just FITS better in the starting lineup than Smith could save the Pistons. A wing player who can create off the dribble and score can help. The Pistons don’t need a star to steer this ship, just a mate that fits with the crew and fixes any holes on the boat.
Of course if the Pistons can find a way to get a Kemba Walker (who has been on Pistons fans mind lately) without giving up Drummond or Harris, they should do it immediately.
The Pistons aren’t as lost as many are making them out to be. I believe getting either of the above mentioned positions could have the Pistons right back to where they were.
But, it means taking a chance.
It means leaving the possibility of it blowing up in SVG face on the table.
It means possibly having to start over after this season if it does not work.
But, aren’t we heading that direction anyways? If the Pistons stand pat, Jackson returns not 100 percent and we either miss the playoffs or get bounced out Round 1, aren’t we blowing this up in the off-season anyways?
There’s a chance to save this season, and re emerge as a threat for the Eastern Conference Finals.
Stan Van Gundy will have to go down swinging in order to do so.
Stan will have to take a chance.
Featured Image: Aaron Doster USA Today