2018-19 Pistons Profile: Reggie Bullock
Brian Sevald (NBAE/Getty)
After failing to make the playoffs last season, Pistons owner Tom Gores made the call to change course. Ed Stefanski was hired to run the front office and his first big move was to hire Dwane Casey, reigning NBA Coach of the Year. The roster is set, a new coaching staff and front office is in place and training camp is around the corner. In the days leading up to its opening we’ll look at each player on the roster and assess how he fits into the puzzle for the 2018-19 season. Today: Reggie Bullock. Monday: Luke Kennard.
ID card: 27 years old, entering his 6th season, 6-foot-7, shooting guard
Last year in review: Bullock moved into the starting lineup for good on Dec. 12 after serving a five-game suspension to start the season and going from sporadic starter to outside the rotation over the first 26 games. From that point until the end of the season among players with at least 10 games played who averaged a minimum of 3.0 3-point attempts per contest, Bullock was No. 1 in 3-point percentage at .466, ahead of then-teammate Anthony Tolliver (.461) and the NBA’s premier sniper, Steph Curry (.456). Bullock more than doubled his previous career scoring high, finishing at 11.3 points a game, and his 1,732 minutes played nearly quadrupled his previous career high (467) despite the fact Bullock only played in 62 games between the suspension, not being in the rotation or being inactive for the season’s final four games due to a minor injury. More than half (51 percent) of Bullock’s field-goal attempts came from the 3-point line. Bullock averaged less than one (0.8) turnover per game and only 1.1 fouls per game.
Career at a glance: Bullock was a five-star recruit out of Kinston, N.C., who stayed home to play for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels over a long line of suitors. He became a part-time starter as a sophomore and a full-time starter as a junior when he averaged 13.9 points and shot 44 percent from the 3-point line. Bullock left North Carolina after his junior season and was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers, 25th overall, in 2013. Bullock was buried behind several accomplished veteran wings on a team with NBA title aspirations and played sparingly before being dealt to Phoenix midway through the 2014-15 season. That summer, he came to the Pistons as the spare part in a deal that netted Marcus Morris from the Suns, intent on dumping salary ahead of free agency. Bullock had an outstanding 2015 training camp, then struggled out of the gate and fell out of the rotation before re-emerging late in the season as the Pistons clinched a playoff berth. His 2016-17 season was marred by injury, including one to his knee that required arthroscopic surgery and knocked him out of the lineup for 25 games.
Anticipated role: Between Dwane Casey’s aggressive push to get more 3-point attempts and Bullock’s synergy with Blake Griffin, it would be an upset if Bullock didn’t remain in the starting lineup despite the new coaching staff’s exuberance over Luke Kennard’s future. Movement without the ball is a distinct strength of Bullock’s and that trait figures to become more pronounced with Casey’s emphasis on spacing giving Bullock even more opportunity to exploit angles and openings. Bullock improved as a defender last season, as well, using his length and positioning techniques to compensate in matchups where he’s at a disadvantage in quickness or strength, and that makes him an even more viable starting candidate.
It will be a good season if...: Bullock, who focused on increasing his flexibility in the 2016-17 off-season and enjoyed relative good health last season, again manages to avoid the nagging injuries that impeded his development prior to last season. The rest should fall into place because of Bullock’s shooting – which will be a vital complement to an offense built around Blake Griffin’s scoring and playmaking and Reggie Jackson’s pick-and-roll compatibility with Griffin and Andre Drummond – and his instincts and cutting ability. Bullock signed a two-year deal in July 2017 and is set to hit free agency in July 2019. He figures to be highly motivated to continue his ascendant career arc in anticipation of cashing in next summer. If Bullock again puts up shooting numbers over the course of a season that rivals the NBA’s elite 3-point shooters, the Pistons figure to field a potent offense.