As the Pistons prepare to start training camp next week, the main focus isn’t on Blake Griffin’s offseason or Andre Drummond’s newly acquired jump shot.
It’s on Reggie Jackson’s health — as it should be.
The past two summers, Jackson’s injury outlook has been one of the Pistons’ biggest story lines, as the team’s fortunes seem to go as Jackson goes.
Coming off a grade-3 ankle sprain last season, Jackson was looking to begin training camp this fall at 100 percent, giving a boost to the Pistons, who were 12-25 in the 37 games that Jackson missed last season.
Leading up to the start of training camp, Jackson has been working with Pistons medical consultant Arnie Kander — renowned for his work as the longtime strength and conditioning coach with the Pistons — and the new training staff, led by medical director Bernard Condevaux and head athletic trainer Jim Scholler.
Jackson said Wednesday he has been limited in his offseason work and he hasn’t done a lot of work to ensure that he’s ready for the start of the regular season, on Oct. 17. That work has included rehab this summer, more than typical basketball activities.
“It’s whatever they tell me. I’m day-to-day and I’m doing everything I can to be ready,” Jackson said. “The organization is doing a great job of taking care of my body and my ankle and getting me ready so that I’ll be in the best position to be ready for the season and take care of everything that needs to be taken care of.”
It’s unclear whether Jackson will be cleared for full-contact work when training camp begins on Tuesday, but the organization correctly seems to be taking the long view in his rehab, looking to ramp him up to peak performance before the regular-season opener rather than worrying about getting to that point before the preseason opener on Oct. 3.
The approach in the rehab process is mostly precautionary, but it seems to be a reasonable response, given Jackson’s injury history. On one hand, it’s frustrating for fans, who regularly question Jackson’s five-year deal for $80 million — but on the other hand, his presence in the lineup is a harbinger for the Pistons’ success.
Given that, Jackson’s progress in rehab is notable.
“(The rehab regimen) nothing special. It’s about me getting my mobility back and making sure my body’s good,” Jackson said. “The rehab has been done well with the ankle; it’s just about making sure everything else is prepped and ready to go.”
The fact that Jackson hasn’t been doing full basketball activities is somewhat concerning, but it looks to be more of a conservative approach, especially with a new training staff taking over and guiding Jackson.
Jackson’s injuries have become a bigger concern since he got a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left knee before the 2016-17 season and missed 30 games. Combined with his 37 games because of the severe ankle sprain, the concern is clear heading into training camp.
“They’ve been some rest-heavy offseasons more so about rehab — more so than what I’m accustomed to,” Jackson said. “My first five seasons in league, it was always get on the court and grind, grind, grind and find a way to get better I’ve had to find ways to get better mentally and watch the game rather than being able to go out there and touch the ball and get out there on the court.
“I look forward to being out there once again for my teammates and try to see the progress and steps I’m going to take.”