Bullock’s return complicates already crowded wing spots for Pistons

Reggie Bullock comes off his five-game suspension and Stan Van Gundy says he might play against the Clippers.
Chris Schwegler/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

LOS ANGELES – Reggie Bullock wasn’t available for the first five Pistons games, but he wasn’t injured. He went through training camp, the preseason and every practice since the season started.

“He’s in pretty good shape. He’s been doing everything,” Stan Van Gundy said after Friday’s practice at Southern Cal’s Galen Center. “He could very easily play tomorrow. Reggie’s done a good job for us throughout camp; he just hasn’t been able to play.”

So there’s no easing him back like you might a returning injured player.

But where does Bullock fit?

Avery Bradley is entrenched as the starter at shooting guard and Van Gundy is going to give Stanley Johnson every opportunity to lock down small forward. They’re his two best perimeter defenders and Johnson’s size, strength and quickness make him the most versatile of the Pistons wing players.

Behind them, Bullock slots in shoulder to shoulder with Langston Galloway and rookie Luke Kennard in what is pretty much a zero-sum game for playing time. The more minutes one of those three gets, the less available for the other two.

“Langston, Reggie Bullock, Luke – it’s tough,” Van Gundy said. “You’ll see one of those guys every night and maybe two. But you’re certainly not going to see all three and a lot of times only see one. It’s hard. It’s not an easy thing.”

Bullock is the rangiest of the three at 6-foot-7 and perhaps the best shooter, though all three provide above-average 3-point potency. Bullock was strong defensively in the preseason, furthering his cause.

But Galloway has hit 8 of 14 from the 3-point arc over his four games – Van Gundy sat him at New York last week on the second night of a back to back after thinking he’d looked tired at Washington the previous night – and can do more off the dribble than Bullock.

Kennard is something of a cross between them – good off the dribble, 3 inches taller than Galloway but not as long as Bullock. Kennard has the greatest offensive upside, but he’ll have a learning curve Van Gundy doesn’t need to oblige with solid options in Bullock and Galloway available.

While the situation is much the same in the frontcourt – Henry Ellenson and Anthony Tolliver vying for backup minutes at power forward, Eric Moreland and Boban Marjanovic for a limited role at center – Van Gundy says the situation on the wings is more complicated.

“There’s going to be a role for all of those wing guys and those guys are the toughest,” he said. “It’s a little tougher to determine the exact situation (of when to use which player). I know when I would use Boban. I know when I would use Moreland. It’s a little tougher with those guys.”