The Detroit Pistons are 8-3 through their first 11 games of the season. With signature wins against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, and Golden State Warriors, the Pistons are playing competitive and entertaining basketball. They are quickly silencing the many doubters and nonbelievers that claimed it would be another waste of a year for Stan Van Gundy, Andre Drummond, and company.
A New Offense
Stan Van Gundy has implemented a new offense, being convinced to do so by his coaching staff and brother, Jeff Van Gundy.
“(His brother) watched a lot of games this summer, he’s watched every minute of every game this year from the preseason on. He came into training camp and I think he’s really pushed me, (saying) at times it won’t look good when the energy isn’t there and it’s not as easy, but you got to stay committed to movement-type stuff and spreading the floor out,” Van Gundy said. “He and Bob (associate head coach Beyer) have made a big push on making ball pressure really an emphasis on what we do at the defensive end of the floor.
The Pistons are still running the pick-and-roll, but with more off-ball movement and action from the high post, the Pistons offense is no longer a boringsimulationn of the same few variations of the pick-and-roll.
Andre Drummond has come into the season with a refined game, no longer focusing on posting up, but rather being a monstrous rim runner, glass cleaner, and screen setter. He also has made significant improvement as a free throw shooter. He is shooting 63.8 percent from the charity stripe after his worst performance from the free throw line of the season yesterday when he shot 0-7 from the line. Drummond has been locked in all season, and the Pistons have reaped the benefits of a fully engaged Drummond.
For example, last night Drummond picked up two early fouls and sat on the bench for the majority of the first quarter. He then struggled from the line but was still able to put together an effective and efficient game. He finished the game with 14 points, a game-high 21 rebounds, four assists, and a steal. He shot 7-9 from the field.
But, maybe the most significant difference this season is the newly asserted dominance of Tobias Harris. Through the first 11 games of the season, Harris is averaging 20 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 47.1 percent shooting from the 3-point line. He has the highest usage of his career, 23.6 percent, and in correspondence has posted his best PER(Player Efficiency Rating) of 19.5.
Harris came into the season claiming he wanted to be a leader for Detroit and has done so. He is their leading them in scoring while being extremely efficient and is playing with a certain swagger that top players do. He has shown he has no problem taking and making big-time shots either, just ask Kevin Durant.
Harris has scored 30+ points twice this season, something no other Piston has done this year even once. It makes sense that Harris has been Detroit’s best scorer and maybe even their best player. He has good size for the power forward spot in Stan Van Gundy’s system. He can space the floor, attack the basket, and is much more athletic than he is given credit for. Harris has also made a strong jump in his defensive capabilities since he first was traded to Detroit.
It seems fairly clear that Detroit is a different looking and better team compared to last year. A new look offense and improvements in house between Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris have the Pistons rising upwards in the Eastern Conference.
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