It’s not the splashiest move of the offseason, but Frank Jackson is back. The Detroit Pistons brought back the spark-plug shooter on a discount deal. Jackson’s impact on the Pistons goes beyond his stylish fits before the game or his baby Big Ben ‘fro. My affection for Jackson’s rise is well-documented, but his value as a shooter is undeniable.
We’ve gotten our first glimpse of Cade Cunningham in Las Vegas this month and, while it is Summer League, the Pistons’ complete lack of shooting on that roster has had a tangible impact on his ability to operate out there.
Luckily, the real Pistons aren’t that bad shooting the ball… and a big part of that is Jackson.
His rise from two-way player to rotation staple last year was one of the great stories in an otherwise rough season. His shooting breakthrough was the catalyst. A career 32% shooter from downtown in two abridged seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, Jackson regained the shooting stroke he showed at Duke in Detroit.
Coming off a season in which he averaged 9.8 points per game and shot 46% from the field and 41% from downtown, Jackson was brought back on a 2-year, $6 million deal.
I would be surprised if Dwane Casey doesn’t give Killian Hayes and Cunningham as much time as possible to figure out how to play together, but it’s likely that their minutes will eventually be staggered. That means open minutes at shooting guard for Jackson.
Cunningham is going to make everybody better. He’s probably leading the summer league in potential assists per game and having a reliable shooter like Jackson in the corner will be a nice release valve when the defense keeps him from getting to the bucket.
Jackson’s off-the-dribble game needs work, but he flashed it at times this season. I’m not sure how the minutes will break down if/when Hamidou Diallo is re-signed, but I know Jackson’s shooting ability is something this team desperately needs.
I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that a Cunningham-Jackson-Bey-Grant-Olynyk lineup is the most potent offensive group for the Pistons this season. When was the last time the Pistons could legitimately throw a lineup of five good volume three-point shooters on the floor?
Detroit is in for another long season, which might not be a bad thing for rebuilding purposes, but setting up guys like Cunningham, Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart for success is critical in a year like that. Jackson’s primary skill helps all of them.
And, honestly, I think we should be talking about him as a part of that core – not just as a piece that helps them out. Frank Jackson is back, and the Pistons are better for it.