Will the Detroit Pistons choose Rodney McGruder over Frank Jackson?

Detroit Pistons guard Rodney McGruder Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Rodney McGruder Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons will have a lot of decisions to make this season, including the fates of Rodney McGruder and Frank Jackson.

Detroit has six team options to consider this offseason, one of which is Jackson’s $3.1 million.

McGruder will be a free agent, so Detroit will also have to decide whether to let him walk or try to bring him back for a bench spot next season. McGruder made $1.9 million this season and will likely be signed to a similar contract next year whether it is with the Pistons or someone else.

With the emergence of Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III on the bench, Detroit won’t likely have a spot for both guards next season, as they will also be adding another draft pick and hopefully a free agent or two.

Midway through the season it was a no-brainer that the Pistons would keep Jackson, as he is much more explosive, more of a threat offensively and is considerably younger than McGruder.

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But now? I’m not sure this choice is so easy and the Pistons might decide to retain McGruder over Jackson or let them both walk.

Detroit Pistons: Rodney McGruder vs. Frank Jackson

Like I said, Jackson has the advantage in just about everything except for one important category: Consistency.

After shooting 40 percent from long range last season, Jackson has regressed back to his career average of 32 percent while taking a career-high 5.5 attempts per game.

His field goal percentage is the lowest of his career and he’s had to miss two significant chunks of the season with injuries. He’s now dealing with a back issue that probably won’t be resolved before the end of the season.

McGruder has played sparingly, but he’s been available for every game and up to the task when called upon, even though the Pistons have already tried (and failed) to trade him twice this season.

McGruder is the consummate professional, a guy who can sit for days and then play well in stretches when they need him. He is a veteran leader and well liked by his teammates.

There’s also the fact that he is shooting nearly 42 percent from long range on 2.5 attempts per game after shooting 45 percent in limited attempts last season.

If the Detroit Pistons wanted to save some money, they can probably retain McGruder for about half of what it would take to keep Jackson. I think Jackson is the better player, but if neither of them are going to play a significant role for the Pistons next season, I’d rather just keep the cheaper veteran and find help elsewhere.

Odds are that Frank Jackson will be back, as he is still on a value contract that he could easily outplay. He has a higher ceiling and has shown that he can explode for big games off the bench.

But if the Pistons think Livers is going to take most of Jackson’s bench minutes anyway, they night just bring back the veteran and cut ties with Frank.

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