Detroit Pistons midseason player grades: Point guards edition

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons
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Reggie Jackson

Stat line: 16.3 points, 5.3 assists, shooting splits of .432/.368/.855, true shooting 52.7 percent.

Grade: C

As with many things about this team, you can’t simply grade Reggie Jackson on what meets the eye. Jackson’s numbers are pedestrian, right around what you might expect a C-to-C+ starting point guard to have. But he’s not being graded on these numbers alone, and the sample I believe to be relevant is actually the last 13 games, rather than the 22 games he’s played since his return.

As I illustrated in this post, both in terms of time and workload, the first nine games of his return were essentially the equivalent of his training camp and preseason, both of which he missed. He also was getting back up to speed and getting his legs under him against players who have been going at full speed for two months. It’s only natural to struggle, which he did.

However, in the past 13 games, his numbers have been significantly improved across the board. He’s averaging 18.3 points and 5.8 assists with shooting splits of .457/.382/.875. If this was a full-season sample, each of these numbers would be near career-highs. If these numbers were all we were grading on, he would rate much higher.

These numbers are not all we’re grading on. The Pistons’ chemistry, fit and defense have all come into question since his return in ways never imagined in the heady days of last season’s playoff appearance and in the first month of this season. Jackson plays a ball-dominant style which clearly grates on his teammates as shown by a players-only meeting called soon after his return in which “touches” were an overriding theme.

The Pistons are 5.7 points per 100 possessions better with Jackson off the floor than they are with him on the floor since his return, and he has a poor 111.8 defensive rating. Even over this 13-game stretch in which his offensive output has been at a high level, the Detroit Pistons have been 2 points per 100 possessions better with Jackson off the floor than on. Certainly Jackson is not the only issue at hand, but not holding him responsible for any part of it would be overly lenient.