2018-19 POP Season Preview: Reggie Bullock Due for Another Big Season
While the Detroit Pistons didn’t experience a breakthrough season to solidify themselves firmly in the playoff field last season, Reggie Bullock arguably made the biggest jump of any player on the Pistons’ roster last year. In an incredibly rare feat for the 6’7″ wing, Bullock went from an afterthought reserve to full-fledged starter in just a couple months.
After serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Bullock spent the first two months of the year in-and-out of the rotation, seemingly seeing starters minutes one game and sitting the bench the next – similar to the fate Langston Galloway succumbed to in the second half of the season. However, after being inserted into the starting lineup on December 12 in a contest against the Denver Nuggets, Bullock never watched tip-off from the bench for the rest of the season in games he played in (besides one January game against Oklahoma City, in which he still played 34 minutes.)
This season, there’s no gray area as to what role Bullock will be playing on the playoff-hopeful Pistons this season. Bullock finished second in the entire league in 3-point percentage last season at nearly 45 percent, and that kind of elite shooting is essential for an offense built around two big men who prefer to work inside. One of the biggest question marks this offseason was who would be starting on the wings for Detroit thisyear., Despite having four good options in Bullock, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, and Glenn Robinson III, Bullock seemed to be the one basically having a starting role locked to begin the season. This proved to be true, as head coach Dwane Casey recently confirmed the Pistons opening night starting lineup would consist of Reggie Jackson, Bullock, Stanley Johnson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond.
While Bullock made himself known as a prolific threat from 3-point range last season, not every shot has come on a silver platter for him. He has shown plenty of times that he is one of the best off-ball players in the entire league, working incredibly hard at getting in position for an open look or frequently cutting backdoor for an easy layup. Bullock’s ability to move off the ball will prove to be especially useful with a full campaign next to Blake Griffin, who is a much more effective playmaker than Tobias Harris, who spent over half of last in the Pistons’ starting lineup. Bullock and Griffin showed arguably the best chemistry of the Pistons starters, and that could be due to the All-Star forward spending a few seasons next to JJ Redick, also one of the league’s best off-ball movers, in Los Angeles.
In this contest against the Orlando Magic earlier this year, you can see just how effective Bullock can be with an extra playmaker on the floor this season:
With increased production, however, comes a much more hefty paycheck. After re-signing on a measly two-year, five million dollar deal at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, Bullock should command a big payday following this season. After enjoying the talents of arguably the best value non-rookie in the league, the Detroit Pistons will have to decide whether the 27-year-old is worth what quite possibly could be an eight-digit salary. With fellow wing Stanley Johnson also set to become a restricted free agent following this year, the Pistons will be hard pressed to retain both with such a huge portion of funds allocated to the trio of Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond. However, with some signs pointing to Reggie Jackson being off the team following the 2019-20 season, the Pistons could decide to use resources from what is no longer a gargantuan contract for a mediocre point guard on the two wings.
After being consistently effective when given the chance last season, Bullock will almost undoubtedly duplicate or build upon his success under new head coach Dwane Casey. The real questions for the Pistons arise at the conclusion of this season, as Bullock will earn himself a big check, whether it be in Detroit or somewhere else. In today’s league, you can never have too many top-tier shooters and sneakily effective defenders on your roster, and the case of Reggie Bullock will prove to be no different.
Featured Image – Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images