Only time will tell whether or not the Detroit Pistons’ current core is good enough to compete for a championship. It almost certainly won’t be, though, if the mental issues that plagued Stan Van Gundy’s team on Thursday night linger for the long-haul.
Following a dispiriting 93-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the coach ripped into Detroit for what he deemed “selfish” play. Even more troubling? That Van Gundy singled-out point guard Reggie Jackson, who has a reported history of putting personal needs before his team’s.
The Pistons connected on 41 percent from the field against Brooklyn and doled out 19 assists against 21 turnovers. Jackson gave the ball away six times alone, miscues that contributed to his team-worst -12 plus-minus. Caveat: It’s the preseason, and Jackson’s debut came after he’s been limited in training camp. Despite Van Gundy’s brutally honest assessment of his team’s performance, there’s absolutely no reason for Detroit fans to panic.
But it would be remiss to act as if this isn’t reason for slight concern, either. Jackson’s final months with the Oklahoma City Thunder were marked by strife between player and team, longtime rumblings eventually confirmed by a report that said the 25-year-old refused to play an early season game despite a clean bill of health. It’s no secret that he wasn’t exactly best of friends with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, too.
Is his performance on Thursday and Van Gundy’s ensuing remarks evidence that Jackson’s hubris has returned? Hopefully not. Early returns of the marriage between he and Detroit after last season’s trade deadline were immensely successful, enough that the Pistons afforded him a five-year, $80 million contract in restricted free agency. And with promising rookie Stanley Johnson alongside he and Andre Drummond, the Motor City might very well have the initial makings of a contender in place.
But selfish play certainly won’t make Detroit a threat to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy going forward, and obviously won’t help the team in its quest for a playoff berth in 2015-16, either.
[Via Detroit Free Press]