The Summer League in Las Vegas is over for the Pistons, while if we are being honest it is good to remember that Summer League means literally nothing and we should all take nothing from it, here are the things that we can maybe take away.
Henry Ellenson is still just as big a question mark as he was before:
This is probably the biggest one. Everyone in the organization from Tom Gores to new head coach Dwane Casey, to new basketball God-King Ed Stefanski, has talked up Ellenson this offseason. When the Pistons decided to allow Anthony Tolliver (and to a lesser extent James Ennis too) walk in free agency without adding another true power forward, they put their money where their mouth is. The Pistons have paths to exclude Ellenson from the rotation if he isn’t ready (Leuer can slot back as a 4, both Stanley Johnson and Glenn Robinson can theoretically play some time there) but there is pretty clearly hope within the organization that Ellenson is going to soak up minutes this season.
If Henry Ellenson has a future in the league, he’s going to have to be able to make shots at a high-efficiency rating. This is a tough fadeaway that he hasn’t been hitting much in Summer League but has shown before he can knock down. pic.twitter.com/tD2mK4J6FD
— Aaron Johnson (@AJohnsonNBA) July 14, 2018
The problem is that Ellenson has basically no sample size to suggest if he is capable of playing or not. He’d put up good numbers in the past two Summers and in the G-League, his overall NBA numbers were mediocre and in all situations, his defense has been terrible. However, at the end of last season, we got the largest consistent sample size of Ellenson ever, and he did pretty well. Over the last eight games of the season, he played 18.5 minutes, scored 9.8 points, grabbed 4.1 boards, and dished 1 assist per game while shooting 42.4% from the field and 40% from deep.
Even that is a tiny sample size though. While he shot poorly this Summer, it mostly looked as though he was simply someone struggling with his shot. Had he come out and totally dominated offensively, or looked more competent defensively, there would be some extra comfort about him likely getting a shot in the rotation this season. After more bad defense and a lot of missed shots, there are no answers, only more questions.
Khyri Thomas is probably going to be everything he was advertised as:
Thomas was billed as being one of the more NBA ready 3 and D types in the draft and he looked that part. He only played in 4 of the 6 games as a precautionary measure, but he was good off the ball, shot pretty well, and looked excellent on defense. The Pistons did not ask him to do a lot of ball-handling, and when they did it was mixed results, but he will likely push for minutes from the get-go. Even if he doesn’t win them right away, time will open up at some point in all likely hood and the Pistons should feel good about the possibility of him filling in for any of their wing players, which isn’t often something you can say about a rookie second-round pick.
Have to love seeing this from Khyri Thomas. Creating a shot off the bounce and making it. He’s a guy that could probably compete for minutes in Detroit’s rotation next year. pic.twitter.com/vWNwqjA4Ml
— Aaron Johnson (@AJohnsonNBA) July 9, 2018
Bruce Brown is probably further away than Thomas, but he is suddenly very intriguing:
Brown shot very poorly from the field, from all over the floor, which is why he likely has a lot of work to do. However, there was a much clearer blueprint for a useful NBA player than most expected so early. Brown handled the ball extensively, often outright playing point guard, and looked confident and comfortable in doing so. He struggled to finish looks and occasionally was a little out of control, but even if not as a full-time point guard, these six games gave indications that Brown could have a real future ahead of him as a ball handler. He showed good poise and great vision on his passes.
Bruce Brown was the best player on the court tonight, posting 15 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, five steals, and one block in the #Pistons win over Minnesota. A showcase to what he can bring to Detroit right away. pic.twitter.com/Ohg5LzfrOK
— Aaron Johnson (@AJohnsonNBA) July 12, 2018
The worry about the Pistons front office this Summer was totally off-base:
A lot was made about the lack of GM for the Pistons. A lot was made about them not hiring a coach fast enough. After seeing Thomas and Brown in action it is clear that the worries about the front office and organization being in disarray were likely totally baseless. Both Thomas and Brown looked very good and both players fit a clear vision which suggests that Stefanski and the entire front office was/is on the same page. Toss in that they are exactly the types that new coach Dwane Casey loves, and it is a good indicator that even if they took a little while to get the pieces together they took very little time to figure out what they wanted. Both Thomas and Brown are strong, competitive, and have a certain mean-streak in them. The Pistons knew what they were doing all along.
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