Pistons Lead

The Bullock Effect

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While he has only been back for four games, the effect Reggie Bullock has had on the team is startling.  The start to the season had been pretty slow for the sixth-year pro out of North Carolina, but the last week is something Pistons’ fans should remember from last year.  In those four games he has had back to back games where he broke his personal career high in scoring. Heading into Friday’s game against Charlotte, he was averaging 56.5% from the field, 55% from three point range and 24 points overall.  It is unsurprising that he would think that he is the best shooter in the league, as he expressed to the media following Wednesday’s comeback overtime win at Minnesota, where he scored 33 points.

The Current Situation

Blake Griffin mentioned after the game that he would start campaigning for Reggie to make it into the 3-Point Contest at All Star Weekend, and he definitely belongs.  Bullock is currently shooting 39.7% from long range, which is currently good for 34th in the league. He makes the offense flow much better when he is in the lineup.  For a team based around two big men, shooting is important from your role players.  Shooting splits of 44-40-89 compliments any roster and leads the team in 3-point percentage.

Since Luke Kennard and Bullock have returned to the starting lineup, Dwane Casey’s offensive vision is starting to take hold.  While this is a simple analysis and does not take anything else into account, it is still pretty glaring in a small sample size:  The Pistons are 14-8 when Reggie Bullock plays, and 1-7 when he doesn’t.

Killer B’s Prove Effective

Since Reggie Jackson has returned, the Pistons have been middle of the pack in terms of offensive efficiency.  They’re slowly moving up the ranks and will only get better as he continues to share the floor with Blake Griffin.  This could be the key to the rest of the Pistons’ season.

Heading into the game against the Hornets, 13% of Blake’s passes are to Bullock, good for second on the team.  Reggie is shooting 42.3% from three on these passes and was 53% last year on the same passes.  If this could become a bigger part of the Pistons’ offense, the spacing would improve, providing more space down low for Blake and Andre Drummond to go to work. Defenders would also be pulled away from Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard, improving their looks as well.  If Detroit can incorporate this successfully and their health improves, they should be able to get back to the form they were in prior to this tumultuous December.

Future Problems

The most interesting part of this trend in the long term is that Reggie Bullock will be a free agent this upcoming summer, coming off a career year where he is making just $2.5 million.  In the upcoming free agent market with the skillset he presents he could be in line for a deal ranging between $10-14 million per year.  Three point shooting, team defense, hustle and chemistry are truly invaluable skills and Bullock has put in the work to earn his upcoming big pay day.

The Pistons will have a decision to make on him as well as fellow unrestricted free agent Ish Smith and restricted free agent Stanley Johnson.  The cap is not in a place where they can keep all of them and the contract may be too rich for the Pistons to match.  Will the Pistons move the sharpshooter as part of a deal to bring in depth or take a shot on potential, such as a Markelle Fultz deal?  Bullock may be the most valuable of the three players, so he may bring the most return. However, he is arguably the second most impactful Piston, so the return would have to be pretty rich to appease a team who is thirsty to end their postseason drought.

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