By Dylan Wittenberg
It is no secret that the Detroit Pistons have been a disappointment up to this point in the NBA season. As we approach the All Star break, the Pistons sit at 27-30 and in the spot of the eight seed in the Eastern Conference. Although Stan Van Gundy’s team has won six of its past nine games, these Pistons are undoubtedly not near as functional, and collaborative, as last year’s playoff team. A few different things can be pointed at as culprits for the Pistons’ flat first half of the season, but one stands above all: Reggie Jackson.
Yes, the point guard the led the 2016 Pistons to their first playoff appearance since 2009 has been the 2017 Pistons’ biggest detriment. Besides averaging three fewer points and one fewer assist this year than last year, Jackson has displayed some very obvious missteps on the court. The veteran point guard dribbles the ball way to much, shoots when he shouldn’t, and is slow to find the open man.
Take the Pistons’ game in Boston against the Celtics on January 30th. It was a pivotal opportunity for the Pistons to get back on the winning track against a very good Celtics team. Down two with about a minute to go, the Pistons got two opportunities to either tie the game up or take the lead. Both times, Jackson drove on double teams and took contested, unwarranted shots. The Celtics held on to win 113-109.
Fans haven’t been the only ones who have taken notice to Jackson’s slacking play. The team held an players only meeting to reiterate the need to spread the ball around the court, seemingly a back hand swat to Jackson’s selfishness. Van Gundy also sat Jackson for a majority of the Pistons road win against the Toronto Raptors on February 12th, playing backup point guard Ish Smith for 31 of 48 minutes.
If the Pistons are going to make the playoffs and win at least one series, which is a plausible goal for a team that got swept in the first round a year ago, they must get rid of Reggie Jackson. The Pistons must use Jackson’s talent to get a beneficial return in the form of a trade. Rumors have surfaced involving a possible trade that combines Jackson with picks and other players for big names such as Jimmy Butler, John Wall, and Jeff Green. Any type of deal that sends Jackson away from the Pistons in return for some type of talent will be successful for Van Gundy.
Reggie Jackson was phenomenal for the Pistons a year ago. A leg injury early this season no doubt set the point guard back, but his inability to return and lead the Pistons the way he is capable of has caused great destruction to the team. He must go.