Bullock’s shot got him to the NBA, but he expects his D to help him stick with Pistons
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Reggie Bullock’s calling card coming out of North Carolina was his shot. It was his potential as a 3-point shooter that elevated him to first-round prospect status and enticed the Los Angeles Clippers to make Bullock the No. 25 pick in 2013.
And in a crowded wing field that will require paring by Stan Van Gundy to fit the 15-man roster limit for the start of the regular season, Bullock might indeed be the best shooter of those on the bubble for the last spot or two.
But it’s his defense, Bullock believes, that will sway Van Gundy in the end.
“I can guard stretch fours,” he said. “I can guard threes. I can guard twos. Get my feet quicker, now I’ll be able to guard ones. I like defense, so I should be able to guard pretty much one through four.”
At 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-9 wing span, Bullock might also be the rangiest among Adonis Thomas and Cartier Martin, the players who appear to be squarely in competition with him to crack the roster.
Van Gundy loves shooting, players with plus size for their position and those who do more than just talk a good game on the defensive end. If his performance matches the bullet points on his resume, Bullock will prove tough to beat out. He’s among the dozen or so players already in Auburn Hills with training camp set to start at the end of the month, but says he’s not fixated on his individual battles with Thomas or second-round pick Darrun Hilliard – another contender at the two wing positions – during five-on-five scrimmages that punctuate their morning workouts.
“I’ve never been one of those guys to go out and just compete against my teammates,” he said. “Obviously, you’re going to compete for the same job, but at the same time they’re on your team. We know each other very well. We know the talent we have. I just try to separate myself from the others by defending and trying to do the little things coaches love. It’s not about getting into matchups with players and trying to outplay this guy for a certain position. I’m going to play basketball, regardless, so that’s just my mindset.”
The Pistons are intrigued by Bullock, fully aware of his pedigree. He was caught in a numbers game with the Clippers, who loaded up on veterans with the postseason in mind, and wasn’t in Phoenix long enough to make an impression after being included in a trade-deadline deal last February. At the same time, he wasn’t targeted by the Pistons when they dealt with the Suns in July to fill their need at small forward, but came along with Marcus Morris as Phoenix scrambled to create cap space for its failed pursuit of free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.
Bullock knows all of that and understands the precariousness of his position. But beyond believing in his case to win the job, he thinks he’s a natural fit with the youngish Pistons, with whom he became a little more familiar last week as part of the bonding experience the players put together – a week of training in Las Vegas with MMA professionals.
“I like how we (utilize) high pick and rolls, spacing the floor, stretch fours, everybody just playing off one another,” Bullock said. “It’s pretty much like four guards out there and one athletic big. I like the role I’m in.
“I think this is a great organization. I think we have a core of young guys with a lot of talent. We have a great coach. Coach is still finding the pieces that he wants to complete the roster, but we have some great players here. We have a great point guard, a great big, some shooters, some defenders – a great core of guys. It’s just all about us jelling together and making a run.”