Reggie Jackson season in review and grade

Mar 21, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Detroit Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson (1) warms up before a game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Detroit Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson (1) warms up before a game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Reggie Jackson started the season sidelined with knee tendinitis and missed the first 21 games for the Detroit Pistons. Things never got much better.

Reggie Jackson had a disastrous 2016-17 season from the start. He was stricken by knee tendinitis in training camp and missed the preseason and first 21 games of the regular season. Ish Smith guided the Detroit Pistons to a surprising 11-10 record, handing off a team with a winning record to the returning Jackson.

It was expected that Jackson would be healthy upon his return, and it was expected that a healthy Jackson would pick up where he left off in his breakout 2015-16 season. It turns out that while he was pain-free, he was far from 100 percent, and he never regained that previous form.

When Jackson returned, his style of play clashed with what his Piston teammates were accustomed to. Under Ish Smith’s leadership, the Pistons moved the ball quickly and had a flowing offense. That offensive engagement benefited both sides of the ball, as more players getting touches led to players getting keyed in on defense.

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Just nine games after his return, following a 15-point loss to the Indiana Pacers, this reduced ball movement caused some of the team’s leaders (Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes in particular) to call a players-only meeting. This gathering focused primarily on players getting the touches they had become accustomed to. It was a distasteful moment in the season and the Pistons came out completely deflated in their next game against the Chicago Bulls, losing by 31 points in a game that was over before it began.

In that game, Jackson took just five shots, hitting two. He scored seven points and added three assists in 24 minutes of action. As distasteful as the meeting was, this performance by Jackson and his teammates was that much worse.

On a team full of players who regressed year-over-year, Jackson was chief. His own regression was violent and abrupt, and his play was among the worst in the NBA among rotational players. Among all players with usage rates over 26 percent (Jackson’s was 26.4), he had the third-worst true shooting of 51 percent and third-worst effective field goal percentage at 46.8 percent.

It gets worse. Jackson had the fourth-worst on-court defensive rating among high-usage players, checking in at 110.5. He also had the worst offensive rating by almost two points, checking in at a woeful 101.7 points per 100 possessions. For context, only one team, the Los Angeles Lakers, had a worse defensive rating than Jackson’s 110.5. The Lakers had a defensive rating of 110.6. Only two teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic, had worse offensive ratings than Jackson’s 101.7.

Jackson’s net rating of -8.8 is the worst in the NBA among all high-usage players. It was just a touch worse than D’Angelo Russell‘s -8.7 and a mile worse than Carmelo Anthony‘s -5. Of note, Jackson’s -8.8 net rating is 1.6 points worse than the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA’s worst team.

Jackson didn’t just become dreadful overnight a year after being an All Star snub. He never regained his explosiveness and his ball-dominant play style in combination with reduced efficiency and athleticism was a bad mix. When one of your least-efficient players has the ball in his hands more than anybody else, you’re going to have a bad offense. In a predictable result, the Detroit Pistons had a terrible offense when Jackson was on the floor.

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Over the final two months of the season until Jackson was shut down in late March, he was a special level of dreadful. In that 25-game span, he averaged 11.8 points with a 48 percent true shooting rate. He got to the free throw line just twice per game on average, he had a 3.8 percent rebounding rate, he had a 23.9 percent usage rate, had an offensive rating of 99.1 and a net rating of -10.3.

After Jackson got shut down late in March, he protested but by all accounts was a good teammate and an active cheerleader on the bench. While he has a reputation as a problem in the locker room thanks to forcing his way out of Oklahoma City, there are no indicators of Jackson being a malcontent with this team. From multiple sources, Jackson is well-liked by his fellow Pistons.

Reggie Jackson enters the offseason with virtually no trade value, meaning the Pistons are almost certain to be left with no choice but to retain him rather than move him and incentivize a deal simply for salary relief. As a result, the Pistons are likely to bring back the core and see if they can regain some of the magic it looked like they had discovered after acquiring Tobias Harris at the 2016 trade deadline.

Next: Andre Drummond's season in review and grade

Grade: F