A lot went wrong with the Detroit Pistons this season.
Reggie Jackson dealt with knee issues and didn’t play up to snuff when he was on the floor. Andre Drummond looks like he has peaked. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was sensational for most of the year, but he trailed off near the end. Stanley Johnson didn’t find a jump shot. The rotation was forever in flux, as the team tried to stagger the minutes of its most prominent ball-dominant talents, namely Tobias Harris, only to find out they had too many to make that sustainable.
Whatever went wrong, whatever it entailed, head coach and president Stan Van Gundy wants us to know he’s the one to blame, per the Detroit News‘ Rod Beard:
There’s guys you look at and say he had a really tough year. Reggie Jackson had a really difficult year and it really affected our team,” Van Gundy said. “I think Reggie will come back and be as good as or better than he was two years ago. I honestly do. There were a lot of things that were physically and mentally very difficult for him to handle.
“That kind of evaluation has to go on with everybody, so it’s not just ‘He had a bad year, get rid of him.’ I’m not at that point,” Van Gundy said. “Hopefully, our evaluation process is a little more sophisticated than that and nothing is done out of blaming anybody or pointing the finger. If you’re going to blame anybody or point the finger, blame me and point the finger at me.
“When you’re the person in charge, it’s Harry Truman: The buck stops here.”
There’s a chance the Pistons run it back with this same core next season. They have no cap space and no key free agents. Any wholesale changes must be made via trade. They could simply see this season as an anomaly—as one that would have unfolded differently had Jackson been playing at full strength.
Still, the Pistons need more off-ball shooting, and as Van Gundy alluded to, they also need a stronger veteran voice in the locker room. He and the rest of the team were left to lament a lack of spirit and excess of confusion far too frequently this season. It’s on him to steady the ship, in whatever way he deems fit, while taking into account the big picture and Detroit’s complete lack of flexibility.
Which, loosely translated, means we don’t quite know what the Pistons will look like next season.