Just two seasons ago, Pistons fans were hopeful that their long run of obscurity was coming to an end. Despite being on the wrong side of a first round sweep by the eventual NBA champion, Cleveland Cavaliers, the Detroit Pistons played the Cavs tough. Many thought the Pistons would be able to claim a top 5 seed in the East heading into the 2016-17 NBA season. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond had formed an impressive chemistry, Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris brought a certain toughness that had been missing in the motor city, and KCP was establishing himself as one of the better two way shooting guards in the NBA. Things were definitely trending upward.
Fast forward to the 2016-17 NBA season. The season starts off with Pistons’ best player from 2015-16 and only player capable of creating his own shot, injured with knee tendonitis. That player is Reggie Jackson. The Pistons got off to a pretty slow start without Jackson running the point. Ish Smith was tasked with running a team during his first year in Detroit. Eventually things started to click and Ish Smith was taking the Pistons in the right direction. This was it, the Pistons were clicking and their best player wasn’t even in the lineup yet.
December 4th rolled around and Reggie Jackson was ready to make his season debut. What Pistons fans didn’t realize is that this was not the same Reggie Jackson. The Pistons finished December 4-10 and everything went downhill from there. The team had developed a nice chemistry with Ish Smith prior to Jackson’s return. The ball was moving and players were getting the ball in spots where they could succeed. Reggie returned and the ball movement stopped. Jackson was clearly not at full strength, but kept trying to force things like he was. This led to team chemistry issues. Detroit’s downward spiral could not be stopped and they missed the playoffs.
Here we are this offseason and everyone wants change. Van Gundy’s Pistons found themselves with a bunch of underperforming players with big contracts and their most promising player, KCP, due a large contract. Things were not looking good and every fan had a bitter taste in their mouth. Van Gundy realized that the Pistons were looking at a rocky financial situation for a small market team like the Pistons. Van Gundy stepped in and traded Marcus Morris for Avery Bradley on an expiring contract and a 2nd round pick. This allowed the Pistons to let KCP walk and buy one more year of time for players like Reggie and Andre Drummond to boost their trade values.
The key to the Pistons future is patience. The best case scenario is that Reggie Jackson returns for the 2017-18 season at full strength and playing at the same high level that he was in 2015-16. If that Reggie shows up, there is no reason to think he is not an Eastern Conference All-Star, with all of the talent that has moved to the Western Conference. Not only does this make the Pistons a much scarier team, but it also gives Detroit more roster flexibility with an asset that could fetch a decent return on the trade market, if the Pistons decide to move on. Love or hate Reggie Jackson, the Pistons will go as far as Reggie’s play takes them. Here’s to a comeback for DETROIT BASKETBALL!