Auburn Hills — Pistons forward Reggie Bullock sustained minor injuries after being hit in a minor two-car accident on Sunday morning, coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Bullock was on his way to the Pistons’ practice facility in Auburn Hills when the incident occurred on Adams Road. The Pistons were having their last practice before leaving Sunday afternoon for Salt Lake City to begin a 12-day, six-game western road trip.
“He got hit and the other driver took off,” Van Gundy said. “He didn’t practice; he’s traveling but what he’ll be able to do, I don’t know.”
Van Gundy said Bullock was taken to a hospital before going to the practice facility to be examined by the team staff.
“He’s OK,” Van Gundy said. “He’s here, but he’s banged up and he has back spasms.”
Bullock, 26, has had a breakthrough season for the Pistons, with 10.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, in 51 games, including 41 starts.
He’s shooting 43 percent on 3-pointers; he had 21 points in Friday’s win over the Chicago Bulls.
It’s a minor setback for Bullock who has had a breakthrough season in his fifth year in the NBA. His 51 games and 41 starts both are career highs and he’s found a consistent role as the starting shooting guard, after the deadline deal that sent Avery Bradley to the Los Angeles Clippers opened a spot in the lineup.
What’s most enticing is that Bullock is on a contract for $2.5 million for this season and there is a team option for next season — a rare contract bargain that the Pistons almost certainly will pick up.
“He’s played really well and to me that’s not even the best part of his game; it’s his movement without the ball and he doesn’t turn the ball over or make a lot of defensive mistakes,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a lot of things with him; he’s just an efficient player, not flashy and won’t go for 35 or 40 (points)P, just pretty consistent and not going to make many mistakes. He’s going to make the right play at both ends of the floor more often than not.”
That type of production and consistency could have Bullock in the consideration to win the league’s Most Improved Player award — if he had a higher profile and a bigger name in league circles.
The Pistons (30-36) are benefitting from Bullock’s increased contributions, as he’s almost tripled his total minutes played from last year, which was a career high. He might not win the league award, but he gets a vote of confidence from Van Gundy.
“I think he should be, but I don’t think he’s a big enough name. You’re talking about a guy who had never played over 500 minutes and now has developed into a solid and efficient starter,” Van Gundy said. “That’s a hell of a big jump in a year and he should definitely be in the mix for that.”
Bullock has been a boon offensively, but he still has more areas where he could improve to make his more of an asset. At 6-foot-7, he has good height for a shooting guard, but could get better in some defensive areas to help at that position.
“He still can get better defensively but he’s not going to make many mistakes like game-plan mistakes,” Van Gundy said. “He’s locked in and he really helps you play well offensively, even when he’s not getting a lot of shots, he’s going to move without the ball and space the floor and not turn it over. He just really knows how to play.”
Because of Bullock’s injury, his availability for the start of the road trip is uncertain, but the Pistons did get some better news on Stanley Johnson, who went through practice on Sunday, after missing the last two games.
Dwight Buycks, who missed Friday’s game because of a sprained left ankle, missed the practice as well but could be back for Tuesday’s game.
Reggie Jackson, who still is recovering from a sprained right ankle, did some non-contact practice work and could still be on track to return to the lineup during the trip.
“He did all non-contact stuff so he actually got in some defensive drill work that wasn’t live and ran some dummy offense with us but he didn’t do any of the 5-on-5,” Van Gundy said. “On the trip, maybe (he’ll be available). I’d be shocked if he were available Tuesday. He hasn’t done any contact yet, half-court or full-court.”