It’s not the same Reggie Jackson. Not even close.
It’s not the familiar pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond, nor the familiar clutch shot-making in the fourth quarter.
One thing it is: baffling
Early in the season, Jackson looked to be getting back to peak form, but in the past two weeks, it’s come crashing back down. In the first 25 games, he scored in double figures 23 times, but finished with a season-low two points against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 10 — and had a stretch of three single-digit-scoring outings in a span of six games.
In that span, he’s shooting 33 percent from the field, 19 percent on 3-pointers and posting just 9.4 points and 4.6 assists.
That’s not Reggie Jackson at all. Matched with Tobias Harris’ recent struggles, it’s a big reason why the Pistons (18-14) are keeping their heads above water after a big start to the season.
Jackson redeemed himself with aggressiveness in Friday’s win over the New York Knicks, but only went 3-of-12 from the field and split a pair of free throws late.
“Other than his shooting, I thought Reggie played really well and made really good plays,” coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters Sunday. “He had a tough shooting night and Tobias got both going; he got it going but he was moving the ball, he was just playing and taking what was there.
“Both of them were taking the plays that were there. When you watch the film, I wasn’t looking at the film and questioning shot-pass decisions — I thought they were taking good shots, passing when people were open. If they play like that, they’ll both play really well.”
The Pistons have been somewhat Jekyll-and-Hyde this season, losing to the struggling Dallas Mavericks but beating some of the best teams in the league within a few weeks of each other.
In Jackson’s case, it’s finding a way to fit into the new offensive scheme, with fewer pick-and-roll calls and more of him finding ways to fit in a motion offense where Drummond is making many of the decisions.
“He’s not (getting to the basket) as much as I would like. He had four or five chances to turn the corner that he didn’t take advantage of,” Van Gundy said this week. “Reggie is at his best when he’s in attack mode and taking his jump shot as they present himself.
“When he’s thinking jump shot first, I don’t think he’s nearly as hard to guard as when he’s in attack mode.”
As they near the midway point of the season, the Pistons’ schedule features some quirks, such as being done with playing the Warriors and Timberwolves and this week will be done with the Pacers and Spurs — all before they play the division-rival Chicago Bulls even once.
At one point, they had the second-toughest strength of schedule in the league, but things have cooled a bit, and will continue as they move into January.
“It’s crazy — it really is,” Van Gundy said.
“If you look at the playoff teams in the East, we don’t go to Boston any more, we don’t go to Washington any more, we don’t go to Milwaukee any more, we don’t go to Indiana any more and we’re only 32 games into the season.”
Avery Bradley, who has had issues with a groin strain, is expected to miss another week and possibly return early in January. He didn’t participate in practice on Sunday and will isn’t doing any basketball activities until his condition improves and he is re-examined.
... Jon Leuer had a sprained ankle initially but his condition hasn’t improved. He’s moved to doing some light shooting but still isn’t jumping.
“That’s about all he can do right now,” Van Gundy said.