Detroit needs to be open to a complete roster overhaul. Personally, I’m a fan of the big man tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but if major moves aren’t made, the Pistons don’t have a shot at retaining Blake. Though Drummond has been looked at as the future of the Pistons franchise, Blake is unarguably the most valuable player on that team. I think with some roster re-tooling, the Pistons could actually make some noise next year. However, to do that, Reggie Jackson needs to go. They gave him a shot (and $80 million) to prove himself and he did prove one thing to NBA fans… he is a career backup.
Jackson has been described by fans as a “score first point guard who can’t score,” and I can’t think of a better way to put it. If he could score like Westbrook, Lillard, or to a lesser extent someone like Jamal Murray, he would get a pass but he has routinely proven that he can’t do it. He’s closer to Brandon Jennings territory than someone like Russell Westbrook.
This year he played the full 82 games, but could only average 15.4 points per game on 42 percent shooting. Not only is that nowhere near All-Star level, but that isn’t even NBA starter level. He just doesn’t have what it takes to lead this team to the next level. If you have seen a Pistons game this year, you might have noticed that Blake Griffin runs the offense better than anyone on that team which makes Jackson even more moveable. The only problem is I don’t know a team that would trade for him.
Right now, the Pistons need to make a big move at the point guard position and fill the rest of the roster from there. Obviously, the first priority should be a star like Kemba Walker. Though let’s be honest, with Drummond not showing huge promise and Blake having one foot out the door, a signing like Walker seems unrealistic. However, some realistic options that could actually happen are guys like Ricky Rubio, Terry Rozier or even Isaiah Thomas. Rozier and Thomas both have something to prove to the NBA and the Pistons got a shot at actually getting them. The Celtics aren’t likely to match any deal that comes to restricted free agent Rozier’s way and Thomas already lost his spot with the Nuggets. You throw a fairly big deal towards Rozier and you got a guy that’ll work hard and has a lot of potential. Also, if a deal isn’t made right away for Reggie Jackson, there’s a good chance that signing guys like Rozier and Thomas will make Jackson work harder, and that will help grow his trade value at the right time.
On a side note, Thomas needs to take any deal that comes his way. He’s tiptoeing on the line of being out of the league because people are finally realizing that he’s historically one of the worst defenders in the NBA.
He can still score in bunches though and he’s got the intangibles like “heart”. That may sound cheesy but it was something the Pistons needed to even compete with the Bucks in the first round and no one really showed any sense of urgency other than Griffin. Thomas has more heart than anyone. That can’t be disputed. He has so much heart that he basically lost out on a $100 million dollar pay day because of it.
All Thomas needs now is his confidence back and you might get a return to form from a former MVP candidate (has it only been two years?). Detroit has nothing to lose anyway. If Thomas doesn’t pan out, they can just re-sign Ish Smith or potentially throw a deal at the king of career backups in Darren Collison.
Unfortunately, this might all be a waste of time. There were reports in January that Blake wanted out of Detroit but his contract has been hard to move. It may be a pipe dream to keep a player like Blake’s caliber in Detroit but this offseason is their last chance to do it. If they get some huge pieces this offseason (maybe throw a deal at restricted free agent Kelly Oubre, Jr.) and actually go on a run, there might be a chance we see Blake play out his contract. If not, and this team only marginally improves, hovering around the 7th or 8th seeds, then we might see this entire roster blown up from top to bottom (including Drummond).
It is an unfortunate truth for Pistons fans and a rather bleak outlook on things for a team that just made the playoffs. Let’s be honest, Detroit has never been a free agent destination unless the team is labeled as a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Featured Photo Credit: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press
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