Ann Arbor — Reggie Jackson took a big step in the third day of Pistons training camp.
The big move was just getting back on the court for 5-on-5 workouts during Thursday’s morning session at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center.
It’s the next stage in Jackson’s full return from a severe ankle sprain last season, which caused him to miss 37 games. He was limited in how much work he could do in during the summer and the Pistons’ new medical staff and trainers put him on a program to ensure that he would be ready to return for the first day of the regular season.
Jackson didn’t participate in the full-contact portion of the first two days of training camp, but his progression Thursday is a positive step for Jackson. Senior adviser Ed Stefanski and new coach Dwane Casey maintained that the plan is to have Jackson ready by the end of the preseason.
“Today was the first day Reggie was back full-speed and he did a good job,” Casey told reporters. “He did everything, with the 5-on-5 stuff. We’re going to be smart and slow with him but I love where he is right now.
“He looked good. His timing is off a bit from not being out there. He knew exactly what we were doing because he paid attention. His game conditioning is getting there. I liked what I saw out of Reggie.”
Jackson said this week that the training staff, with the renowned Arnie Kander, is being cautious with his recovery. He’s looking to follow their plan, but not being able to play at full speed or do full basketball activities has slowed his return.
“He’s worked his behind off and did a good job of working but there’s no substitute for 5-on-5 against NBA caliber players,” Casey said. “It’s expected that he’ll have a little rust and some timing issues but really liked where his game and his mind is and he knew what we were doing.
“He was excited today and threw some (bad) passes. He made the right play, but the pass was off time and off target. That’s to be expected from what he’s been through with his health; it’s good to get him out on the floor in 5-on-5.”
The Pistons will have an open scrimmage on Saturday at Crisler Center and begin their five-game preseason slate on Wednesday.
Shooting for efficiency
Part of Casey’s imprint on the offense will be what he’s dubbed a “shot spectrum” and the players’ adherence to it. Casey hasn’t gone into depth about what the details of the spectrum are, but in basic terms, it’s the breakdown of the types of shots that would be beneficial for them according to their preferred analytics.
In the first few days of training camp, the focus has been on establishing the defensive principles and communication, and also figuring out the breakdown of shots from different distances around the rim.
It’s going to be a process as training camp continues, as the chemistry improves between players in various lineup configurations.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day but it’s coming. Guys are making that extra pass. One thing we are doing a good job is with the shot spectrum,” Casey said. “We are taking the efficient shots, which is good to see.”
Casey has said that he likes the versatility of the Pistons’ roster and the various types of lineups he could utilize in different situations. One of those is using an ultra-small lineup, with 6-foot-7 Stanley Johnson at center.
It’s not out of the question, especially for Casey, who used some unconventional lineups in his seven seasons with the Raptors.
“You’re going to see some crazy lineups. Last year, we played Pascal Siakam at center. There’s a lineup where you can match Stanley with him,” Casey said. “You’re going to see a lot of funky lineups with guys 6-7 or 6-8 at the five. We have the tools to match that.”
Some of the versatile pieces such as Jon Leuer playing backup power forward or center or Reggie Bullock or Glenn Robinson III in differing wing roles or Blake Griffin in bigger lineups are other options.
There will be some work this week in camp, but there are more pressing priorities, in installing the offense and defense and establishing some consistency under new systems on both ends of the court.
“It’s hard to weave those lineups in training camp when you’re trying to incorporate a new system,” Casey said. “We have to look at some different small-ball lineups, like if we play two or three point guards at the same time. We have some flexible pieces, but I want to make sure we get the traditional lineups first before we start experimenting.”