Thursday, November 19, 2015

Breaking Down Reggie Jackson's 12 Assists vs. Cleveland

Thanks to the NBA providing video box scores that give a snapshot of every stat recorded, I was able to take a closer look at how Reggie Jackson racked up 12 assists in an important home win over the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.  Now 11 games into the season, it was the first time that Reggie Jackson returned to the role as a premier distributor, one he had truly assumed after Stan Van Gundy acquired him in a trade deadline stunner last year.  Through the first 10 games of this season, Jackson looked indecisive and too focused on scoring.  While that paid off in the 4th quarter against Portland during his 26 point explosion, it has more often than not held the offense down.  Here's a look at how Reggie Jackson turned that around on Tuesday night.

If you want to follow along with each of his assists, check out the videos.  Unfortunately, there's no way to embed them here that I'm aware of.  Here's how Jackson's 12 assists on the night were attained:

  • 4 alley oops to Andre Drummond
  • 4 passes for Ersan Ilyasova jumpers
  • 1 nice halfcourt pass to KCP on a fast break for a layup
  • 1 pass to Marcus Morris for a corner three, and one
  • 1 pass to Marcus Morris on a fast break for a pull up elbow jumper
  • 1 pass to Ersan Ilyasova, who made a nice driving shot; it was generous to give Jackson an assist on this one
The most encouraging part of that is the four assists to Andre Drummond.  That was a big piece of the offense last year after Jackson was acquired, and it had looked like teams were shutting it down early this year.  The reason I think the alley oops to Drummond were open more often against the Cavs were threefold.  First, Reggie Jackson came out and scored out of the pick-and-roll early and often.  He had one assist to Drummond early in the first quarter, and that was sandwiched in between multiple buckets at the rim for Reggie.  That made the defense pay more attention to Reggie going forward, opening up more room for Andre at the rim.  The second thing was Ersan Ilyasova keeping his man honest.  With Ilyasova knocking down jumpers, his man had to make a decision whether to help down on Andre or stay with a guy who's now shooting 45% from three on the year.  Ilyasova's shot the ball well all season, but when there's no thought of Reggie getting him the ball in the corner, his man can help on the pick-and-roll.  The third reason Reggie was more successful getting the ball to Andre was that he waited longer to make a decision between scoring and passing.  Jackson has settled for a lot of floaters so far this year instead of getting all the way to the rim.  When he does get all the way to the rim, the defense has to come off of Andre to prevent a layup.  When that happens, all Reggie has to do is float the ball up and let Andre go get it.

Other than a nice outlet pass to KCP, the rest of Jackson's true assists came on jump shots.  This piece requires Jackson getting some help, because, of course,  you can make as many beautiful passes as you want and not get an assist if your teammates aren't hitting.  The Pistons have been one of the most woeful jump shooting teams in the league this year, and that is almost certainly partially responsible for Jackson's lower assist numbers.  Reggie finding Ersan Ilyasova in the corner out of the pick-and-roll was a big part of this one.  Ilyasova's a reliable shoooter, and with the struggles of KCP and Marcus Morris, the Pistons need to find more ways to get him involved.  

The Pistons need more distribution from Reggie Jackson going forward if their offense is going to get to a respectable level.  If he can keep finding Andre Drummond a few times a night out of the pick-and-roll, the Pistons' other options are going to open up big time and their shooting numbers should pick up.  The keys to that happening will be Reggie keeping the defense honest with his scoring, not rushing his decisions out of the pick-and-roll, and getting some help from the team's spot-up shooters.

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