Which Pistons will Improve Most Under Dwane Casey

Image: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Dwane Casey is coming to Detroit. What does that mean for this current Pistons roster? It’s hard to say exactly what he plans to do. After all, he hasn’t even been the coach for a week yet. However, if his past has taught us anything it will likely mean relying on his guards to do a lot. Whether is it was his high percentage of isolation offense or last year’s ball movement, three-point heavy offense, Casey trusts his guards to make things happen, and be the key cogs of his offense.

While many will look to Reggie Jackson to blossom under Casey, much like Kyle Lowry did in Toronto, I believe it will be the other Pistons’ guard that will benefit the most from his new coach. That, of course, is Luke Kennard, who will be entering his second year with the team. While he couldn’t be more different than Raptors shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan, I believe Casey will get the best out of the former 12th overall pick.

Under Casey’s guidance, shooters seem to find a lot of success. Kyle Lowry has posted four of his five best three-point shooting seasons with Toronto and Casey’s offense. Serge Ibaka is taking four times as many threes as he did in his seven years in Oklahoma City and is making them at a higher percentage. Rookie OG Anunoby shot 31 percent in his final season in college and shot 37 percent as a rookie with essentially the same amount of attempts per game.

What does this mean overall? Shooters typically take more threes and make them at a higher percentage in Casey’s offense. While isolation is certainly a part of his part of his past, Casey’s latest offensive design seems to be even more effective. This still relies on a lot of strong guard play, but it is less dependent on one person to make big plays. In short, it seems like a great fit for a guy with Kennard’s skill set.

Image: Benny Sieu USA TODAY Sports

As a rookie, Kennard shot 41 percent from three which was tied for 19th best in the NBA just behind Finals MVP, Kevin Durant. I expect that percentage to increase moving forward, as most players have seen such improvement under Casey. The Pistons rookie proved to be a sharp shooter coming off screens and in catch-and-shoot situations. Kennard will be the best pure shooter Casey has ever had the chance to coach. Kennard should see an increase in opportunities, under an offense that emphasizes on moving the ball and making the extra pass.

Another player I expect to improve under this new coaching staff is small forward, Stanley Johnson. However, this is for a very different reason. I don’t expect a massive improvement from Johnson’s 3-point shooting which has gotten worse every year (although I certainly do expect some improvement). I actually expect him to do more of what DeRozan, a guy with an even worse career 3-point shooting percentage than Johnson, did under Casey with the Raptors. Another offseason of working on said jump shot will also give Johnson a greater chance to become a more efficient shooter.

This will include a lot of driving to the basket and acting more as a facilitator. In Casey’s new offensive system, DeRozen set a new career high in assists in 2018. His size and ability to get to act as a point forward is actually very similar to the skill set Johnson brings to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Stanley Johnson to suddenly become DeMar DeRozan. However, it seems like Johnson has spent his entire professional career without an identity or even a plan on offense. It seems Casey would have a clear strategy on how to best use Johnson’s skill set.

Casey has already spoken about the big season ahead for Johnson.

Casey is widely known as a player development coach, and his past season in Toronto is the greatest testament to that.

The Raptors youth movement last season was a major factor in their rise to the top seed in the East. Casey trusted his young players, often something Stan Van Gundy was criticized for not doing in Detroit, and it paid off.

Hope should be high for Casey and his ability to maximize talent out of his players. The Pistons will need that as they look to return to the playoffs after missing the postseason two seasons in a row.

Featured Image: Rob Carr/Getty Images


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