Van Gundy Adds Defense, Scoring, and Leadership with Offseason Moves

 The prize pickup for the Detroit Pistons during the off-season is seven year veteran guard Avery Bradley. Bradley was the focal point in Pistons’ Head Coach Stan Van Gundy’s off-season reformation, but he expects all six of the new editions to add defense, scoring and leadership.

Losing KCP was quite bitter sweet as he was a reliable player for the Pistons since he was drafted with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft. However, when you compare last year’s numbers between KCP and Bradley, it’s obvious why the decision was made. During the 2016-2017 season KCP averaged 13.8 ppg, 2.5 ast, and 3.3 rpg compared to Bradley’s 2016-2017 numbers of 16.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 2.2 ast.

Bradley brings tenacity to a Detroit back-court that has lacked a true defensive presence for years. Along with being a prolific defender, Bradley has also improved his scoring average each year since he’s been in the league.

Van Gundy thinks highly of Bradley’s ability to play efficiently on both ends of the court, and he’s clearly happy with the acquisition.

From Ansar Khan

“It’s hard to check all of those boxes with one player, but we did with Avery,” Stan Van Gundy, Pistons coach and president of basketball operations, said. “Avery’s been one of the best two-way guards in this league. … He’s gotten better every single year. So there really weren’t any negatives.”

Without a doubt the Pistons could use a boost in scoring from the back-court, but defense is the ultimate reason the Pistons swapped Marcus Morris for Bradley. Bradley takes pride in being an elite defender, and that has shown throughout the course of his career.

From Ansar Khan

“I’ve always had that mentality and once I reached this level I understood defense wins games,” Bradley said. “Whenever you’re able to give all your effort on the defensive end, it inspires people and that’s what I look to do all the time.

“Everybody doesn’t like the charges and stuff, but those are good. I want to bring that every single game. I want us to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA because we have the personnel to do that, it’s just a mindset and willingness to follow the coach, make sure we’re all buying into what he needs us to do.”

The Pistons also acquired Langston Galloway, a three year veteran undrafted veteran guard out of St. Joseph’s. Galloway made a name for his self in 2014 as a rookie with the Knicks where he averaged 11.8 ppg. After spending two seasons in New York, Galloway averaged 8.6 ppg in his lone season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Galloway isn’t a guy that’s going to full up the box score night-in and night-out, but he is an upgrade from 16 year veteran Beno Udrih who is currently a free agent. With Reggie Jackson, Ish Smith, Avery Bradley, Reggie Bullock, and Luke Kennard in the helms Galloway will most likely be relied on as a guy that does a lot of the dirty work.

Galloway was a free agent that Van Gundy coveted for a number of reasons.

From Carlos Monarrez Detriot Free Press:

“It’s been a long process for us to try to bring Langston here,” Van Gundy said. “When we started in the summer and sat down with our scouts and our front-office staff, we talked about really trying to add three things, particularly on the perimeter. We wanted great competitiveness and toughness, we wanted to improve our three-point shooting, and we wanted more guys on the team that were capable of handling the ball and making plays. And Langston checked all three boxes, plus the ability to play both guard positions.”

Another pickup that Pistons fans might not be familiar with is third year PF Eric Mooreland. Mooreland spent two seasons in Sacramento where he played in 11 games total. Van Gundy fell in love with Mooreland this off season when he played for the Detroit Pistons summer league team. Mooreland will have the chance to compete for minutes in the frontcourt with the departure of Aaron Baynes.

Van Gundy at first may have considered Mooreland as a two-way contract signee, but after his summer league performances that changed.

From Carlos Monarrez Detriot Free Press:

“We brought him down to summer league with us and he played himself way past that (two-way contract),” Van Gundy said. “Went down and very consistently through four practices in a free-agent camp, seven practices and five games down in Orlando, played at a high level all the way through. Brings tremendous energy and athleticism to the table, defends and rebounds.”

Along with Aaron Baynes, Udrih, Morris, and Caldwell-Pope; Michael Gbinije and Darrun Hilliard complete the group of six that have moved on from Detroit. Gbinije and Hilliard were two second round selections that never panned out with Van Gundy. Both only appeared in 86 games in three combined years with the Pistons.

In replacement, Detroit selected Luke Kennard out of Duke with the 12th overall pick in the past draft. Kennard is known as a scorer at all three levels of the court on offense, as he averaged 19.5 ppg as a sophomore for the Blue Devils. However, Van Gundy will push Kennard to be a better defender, and having a veteran like Bradley to model is a luxury.

From Ansar Khan

“He’s got a lot of work to do in that area, a lot of work to do,” Van Gundy said. “So, we’ll have that talk tomorrow. Because offensively, he’s really good. But he’s got to do a lot more at the defensive end of the floor if he wants to get on the floor.”

Don’t get things twisted, Kennard might be slightly defensivly challenged, but with his offensive skill set and a need for scoring he will compete for minutes in the Pistons rotation.

From Ansar Khan

“He can play offensively, I mean really play offensively,” Van Gundy said. “He is a skilled guy with a polished offensive game. He can shoot the ball, he’s got great, great footwork. Everybody looked at him as a shooter, but the thing I like is he can make plays off the dribble, he can pass the ball.

“We said from an offensive standpoint, going into the summer, in terms of what we wanted to work on to develop our players, and what we wanted to add to the roster, was two things: 3-point shooting and guys who could makes plays, create shots for themselves and other people. He can do both of that.”

When it comes to leadership, Anthony Tolliver is the person to speak of when it comes to off season additions. Tolliver was a member of the Pistons from 2014-2016 and after a one year stint with Sacramento, he’s back Detroit. During his previous time with the Pistons, Tolliver was a crowd favorite and a leader in the locker room.

Van Gundy spoke of what type of guy Tolliver is in a press conference on July 14.

From Carlos Monarrez Detriot Free Press:

“He’s one of highest-character guys in the NBA,” Van Gundy said of Tolliver, “and what he will do in terms of leadership I think is important to our team, but it’s important that he’s a guy that can go out and play. It’s tough to be a leader who’s not playing and A.T. still plays at a high level. He models what a pro should be every single day in practice and games and then he’ll speak up when appropriate.”

With all of the acquisitions made in the off season, the Pistons still return a solid core. Returning starters Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris, Jon Luer, and Andre Drummond are in tact as of now. Also the Pistons will look for more from two of their former lottery picks Stanley Johnson, and Henry Ellenson.

Van Gundy and the Pistons had an idea of what they wanted to do heading into the off season, and now that the moves have been made only time will tell if everything pays off.

From Keith Langlois

“There has to be some changes,” he said before the season finale at Orlando not quite three weeks ago. “We have to make, as a staff, some good evaluations on the guys who can and are willing to make some of those changes.

“Which means, who are the guys we’re going to bet on to make improvements in their game and who are the guys we can bet on their professionalism and commitment out here on a night-to-night basis? Because we had too many some-of-the-time guys that we couldn’t count on and if those guys – if we don’t think those guys can change, well, then they’ve got to be changed.”

Featured Image: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images


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