Reggie Jackson: Detroit’s $80 million man

Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The ink was still drying on Reggie Jackson’s shiny new five-year, $80 million contract as he answered questions from the local media about the future of the Detroit Pistons.

Those questions are more appropriate now than ever. After all, the deal symbolizes coach Stan Van Gundy’s confidence that Jackson is the right point guard to lead the franchise into the future.

Jackson said all the right things during Monday’s press conference, and Stan Van Gundy said he believes this contract will be a bargain.

What will it take for this to be true?

Will Jackson need to put up gaudy individual statistics, and nothing more? Will consistent playoff appearances be enough? Will it take championships?

High scoring and assist totals are certainly easy on the eyes when analyzing point guard play. And let’s be honest, Jackson needs to produce at least above average numbers for him to be worth $16 million per year.

If Jackson averages around 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds over the next five years, he’ll probably make an All-Star team or two. But if those numbers lead to nothing more than the Pistons hovering around 40 wins and never posing a serious threat to win the Eastern Conference, will he get the benefit of the doubt because of his individual performance? Not likely.

On the other hand, if Jackson’s numbers are good but not eye-popping, and the Pistons re-establish themselves as one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams behind his leadership, would Pistons fans see through the numbers and appreciate his value?

Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Jackson certainly has the potential to fill up the box score, as he exhibited during his 27 games as a Piston last season.

But statistics aside, Jackson needs to show that he is capable of leading a team out of the purgatory that is mediocrity in the NBA. Jackson will find the journey back to contention much more navigable if he can do what all great point guards do: make his teammates better.

An important part of evaluating Jackson’s performance will involve monitoring the improvement of players like Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The continued development of Drummond and KCP is vital to the Pistons’ future, and as the point guard Jackson needs to foster that development, not hinder it.

For Jackson, the money won’t come without high expectations. Among those expectations exists the notion that if you’re paid like the best, you’re supposed to play like the best. Good players compile impressive statistics, but the best players in the NBA make the playoffs and compete for championships. If Jackson can accomplish that with the Pistons, he’ll be worth the money and Stan Van Gundy will look like a smart man.

Let’s hear your thoughts. What does Reggie Jackson need to do to convince you that he deserves to be Detroit’s $80 million man?

Next: Detroit Pistons All-Time list: First-Team

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