Reggie Jackson has taken a lot of criticism for being a “ball hog” and for playing “hero ball” and he’s taken a lot of blame for the Pistons struggles this season. However, let’s take a closer look shall we?
Let’s take Marcus Morris for example. Morris was bad in December, averaging just 11.8 points on 39.2% shooting from the field and in five games in January, he’s averaging 12.8 points on 35.8% shooting. To break it down even further, he’s averaging 12.6 points on 33.3% shooting and only 23.1% from deep. Morris is too good a shooter and too talented of an offensive player to be shooting the ball this badly. http://www.espn.com/nba/player/stats/_/id/6462/marcus-morris
It almost looks mental at this point and his defense has even taken a hit. It isn’t nearly as physical as it was last season and he just looks lost. If the Pistons want to turn this thing around and get back to being successful, then Morris is going to be a big part of that turnaround. He gets a lot of wide open looks on the perimeter due to Jackson’s penetration, needs to hit those shots.
The next example is Aron Baynes. Now Baynes was huge for the Pistons last season coming off the bench and providing good physical play behind Andre Drummond. This season? Complete opposite. In the same exact minutes he received last season, Baynes is averaging 2.2 less points and 0.8 less rebounds and he’s foiling more as well. Out of the 38 games he’s played, he’s had one good impactful game and that was the home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in early December. He’s another guy the Pistons will need to shake off his slump and move forward. http://www.espn.com/nba/player/stats/_/id/2968439/aron-baynes
Another example is the play of Ish Smith. Smith was terrific filling in for the injured Jackson in November, but since he’s come off the bench, he hasn’t been the same player. His field goal percentage has dipped below 39% in December and January and he’s been getting destroyed on defense. It seems that Smith is good for one thing and that’s to push the tempo, other than that, he hasn’t been very helpful since coming off the bench. http://www.espn.com/nba/player/stats/_/id/4305/ish-smith
Finally, I look at Stan Van Gundy, he isn’t escaping blame here. Loved the idea of inserting Jon Leuer into the starting lineup and bring Tobias Harris off the bench as a spark plug offensively, but there have been plenty of rotation questions that I have.
In the loss to the Sacramento Kings recently, he answered the Kings twin tower lineup with one of his own with Drummond and Baynes, but instead of Baynes, I would’ve liked to have seen Boban Marjanovic. Drummond did a great job of defending DeMarcus Cousins on the perimeter and he could have defended him out there with Marjanovic defending Kosta Koufos and the rim. Marjanovic just seemed like a no brainer to play over Baynes due to his recent play, especially after his 15 point 19 rebound performance against the Charlotte Hornets on January 5th.
There is a ton of talent on this team, they went 44-38 last season, you don’t do that without legitimate talent. They have what it takes to turn this thing around and get back to the playoffs and make some noise. It’s going to take a lot of soul searching though and a guy like Morris will have to start hitting his open jumpers.