Auburn Hills — During Tuesday night’s “Meet the Team” event, Pistons guard Reggie Jackson did a little dance to help entertain the fans. On Wednesday and Friday, he sat out the first two preseason games because of groin soreness.
But his time is coming — and it could be this week.
After being limited this summer, Jackson is trending toward a return to the court, possibly Monday against the Indiana Pacers in the third preseason game. The training staff has kept a close eye on Jackson to ensure that he doesn’t try to do too much too fast.
“I’ve said so many times that he would be (ready to play). Let’s wait until (Monday) and I’ll let you know,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He went through the whole practice and we went a lot of 5-on-5.”
There’s a fine line between being overcautious and just being smart. With what the Pistons went through last season with bringing Jackson back so quickly after his platelet-rich plasma injection in the preseason, seeing the conservative approach this year is a welcome change.
In the preseason, there’s not much to be gained, but it will matter more as the regular season approaches. Whether it was the plan all along to keep Jackson sidelined until the last couple of exhibition games isn’t the point, but having Jackson closer to 100 percent is the aim.
In Sunday’s practice, Avery Bradley had a minor ankle issue but Reggie Bullock (knee) returned to practice.
The Monday Drive kicks back into gear for the last week of the regular season. Here are some observations from the second week of training camp:
¦ Having Andre Drummond (conjunctivitis) out for Friday’s preseason game provided the opportunity to see a smaller lineup, with Jon Leuer at center. It’s a wrinkle that the Pistons could show with their reserve group, as well as with Eric Moreland getting some minutes over Boban Marjanovic. One of their strengths is versatility — and with those options at backup center, they can show a lot. Drummond is expected to miss Monday’s game, so there might be another look
¦ Along with the versatility is depth, which could have the Pistons showing a variety of looks, with different personnel. While Van Gundy has been confident in his power forwards, the backcourt also is gaining some steam, with Ish Smith, Avery Bradley, Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway able to play multiple roles and contribute in three-guard sets, if needed.
¦ Henry Ellenson isn’t just trending toward getting some playing time in his second season — he’s trending toward being a major part of the rotation. Henry: He’s a pretty skilled guy. “I would say — and we’ve had a lot of guys play well throughout camp — but he’s probably been the most consistent of anybody. Every time we play or practice, I don’t remember a bad day since the start of camp,” Van Gundy said. That’s high praise for Ellenson, who only played 19 games last season.
¦ With all the consternation about Van Gundy’s free-agent signings, why isn’t there more credit given for getting Ish Smith? Last season, the Pistons would have been completely lost if Smith hadn’t been there for 30 starts and some solid play during the rest of the games as a backup. He’s one of the fastest players with the ball in the league and seems more like a bargain at $6 million per season.
¦ Stanley Johnson looks pretty good as the starting small forward. His poise and approach are very good and the game looks to be slower for him. The scoring will come, it seems, but just fitting into that role is a good first step.
¦ Van Gundy feels perfectly comfortable with Anthony Tolliver, who is a role player but had an excellent game on Friday.
He won’t be called upon to have a big role, but Tolliver can help mentor young guys like Ellenson and show them how to be good professionals. If Tolliver continues to excel, it’ll make the battle at that position tough to call.
¦ Teammates are lauding Bradley’s quiet leadership. He’s not an extremely vocal leader, but his work ethic and example have other players raving about the impact he’s having on the practice court and in the locker room. [/restrict]