Bullock, shooting 58% from three over his last 7 games, secures spot in rotation

Sometimes players just need a chance. And sometimes, they need a second chance.

Such is the case for Pistons reserve forward Reggie Bullock.

Seizing the opportunity to fill the void left by the injured trio of Anthony Tolliver, Stanley Johnson, and Jodie Meeks, Bullock has been on fire during his team’s 5-2 stretch, averaging 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench while connecting on a Curry-like 58.3 percent of his 3-point attempts (14-24).

According to head coach Stan Van Gundy, Bullock’s recent play has been enough to assure himself of a continued opportunity, even as Detroit’s wings regain their health.

“Yeah, he’ll play,” Van Gundy said of Bullock’s prospects. “I think at that point he’d be our 10th guy. He’s played well. Darrun (Hilliard) has played well, too, but I think Reggie lately has played a little bit better… He’s doing what we saw in the preseason that we didn’t see earlier in the year. So you got to be happy for a guy like that, you really do. I know his teammates are.”

Ah yes, the preseason.

After languishing on the bench for the better part of his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, Bullock wasted little time in finding his niche with the Pistons after being acquired alongside Marcus Morris and Danny Granger last summer.

Having never averaged more than 2.7 points per game over the course of his young career, the 6-foot-7 wing stepped into head coach Stan Van Gundy’s system and thrived… in the preseason. Providing defensive energy while averaging 10.7 points and hitting 52 percent from deep, Bullock’s exhibition run suggested the Pistons may have found themselves a diamond in the rough.

Alas, the regular season jitters quickly caught up to Bullock, yielding disastrous results early. Over the season’s first month, Bullock missed 16 of his first 17 shots, scoring just four points in 10 appearances. Just like that, the dream was in shambles. Bullock would make just nine garbage time appearances over the next three months combined.

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Bullock appeared destined to be heading toward a third consecutive season of disappointing returns. That is, until a rescinded trade and sudden rash of injuries pushed him back into action.

After Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton were both returned to the Rockets following a failed physical, the Pistons’ remaining forward corps took a hit when Anthony Tolliver sprained his right knee one game then Stanley Johnson sprained his right shoulder the next.

Knowing he may get a look at more than just a trial basis, Bullock settled in, scoring 16 points in a 20-point win over the 76ers on Feb. 24 (the first time he’d played more than five minutes since Nov. 23). He followed that performance with a pair of eight-spots, both coming in winning efforts as he began to lock in as a reliable corner specialist.

His contributions, particularly after such a long layoff, haven’t gone unnoticed.

“To sit for 45 or 50 games, not playing and then play pretty well, you have to give guys a lot of credit,” Van Gundy said. “Having guys on your roster who keep themselves ready to play — he’s done it, Darrun did it, Steve (Blake) did it when he was sitting with Brandon (Jennings playing). We’ve got a lot of guys like that and they deserve a lot of credit.”

Sure, it may have taken him 58 games, but Preseason Reggie seems to have finally re-emerged, and the Pistons are cashing in.

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