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NBA AM: Is Reggie Jackson Still The Future In Detroit?

Is Reggie Jackson, coming off of an injury plagued campaign, still the point guard of the future in Detroit?

Lang Greene

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The Detroit Pistons acquired point guard Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline during the 2014-156 season. Jackson quickly settled into his role in Detroit, averaging 17.6 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 27 contests with the Pistons.

During the summer of 2015, the Pistons re-signed Jackson to a five-year $80 million deal. The 2015-16 campaign was a career year for Jackson, as the veteran appeared in 79 contests and posted averages of 18.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 43 percent shooting from the floor.

However, last season proved to be a disastrous campaign for Jackson. The guard appeared in only 52 contests, limited by injuries, and averaging 14.5 points and 5.2 assists. With training camp looming, the health of Jackson, battling back from left knee trouble, is one of the primary storylines following the Pistons.

According to Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, Jackson has been given favorable news from doctors and has increased his workouts. Gundy believes Jackson should be available when training camp opens in two weeks.

“All good with the doctors and ramping up [Jackson’s] basketball work,” Van Gundy said according to Detroit Free Press.  “He’ll be ready.”

Jackson may report to training camp at full strength, but is the former Boston College standout still the Pistons’ point guard of the future? Last season the Pistons relied heavily on veterans Ish Smith and Beno Udrih to man the point guard position while Jackson was on the mend. Udrih is no longer with the team and Smith is entering the second season of the three-year $18 million deal he signed last summer.

While Smith held his own and showed durability by appearing in 81 games last season, the Pistons aren’t likely to give him the sole keys to the franchise. But Jackson’s name has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors over the past few months and the veteran is considered far from untouchable.

Don’t forget the Pistons also inked guard Langston Galloway to a three-year $21 million deal this summer. Galloway averaged 7.9 points and 1.3 assists in 74 appearances for New Orleans and Sacramento last season. Galloway and Smith don’t possess the upside of Jackson, who has flashed All-Star caliber talent when healthy. But the duo will be paid a combined $12.6 million this season, while Jackson is owed $16 million and an additional $35 million through the 2019-20 campaign.

Keep in mind: Since Van Gundy joined the Pistons, the franchise hasn’t been afraid to move away from young talent and go in a different direction completely.

In 2015, the team allowed center Greg Monroe to depart to Milwaukee in free agency. Monroe was drafted by the franchise in 2010 and had developed into a consistent 15 points and seven rebound type. But the Pistons were reluctant to max him out.

This summer the team also parted ways with an emerging talent in guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The guard ultimately signed a one-year $18 million deal to play in Los Angeles, but most thought Detroit would open up the wallet in order to keep Caldwell-Pope in the fold.

Van Gundy is entering his fourth season in Detroit and has amassed a 113-133 (.459) record with the Pistons. The team reached the playoffs in 2016, posting a 44-38 record, but was swept in the first round by the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Prior to joining Detroit, Van Gundy had never finished below .500 as a head coach dating back to stints with Miami and Orlando.

The Pistons should be better this season. The acquisition of guard Avery Bradley adds perimeter toughness and softens the blow of Caldwell-Pope’s departure. But the Pistons’ fate will ultimately be decided by the man they once signed to a max contract extension. The question heading into the season, is does Detroit view the guard the same way it did back in July 2015?

 

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics

With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Ben Nadeau

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With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.

Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.

His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.

Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.

Dennis Chambers

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With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.

Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.

A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.

The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.

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