A relaxed Dwane Casey greeted the media Wednesday afternoon.
He spoke easily, cracking one-liners, as it was apparent the coach’s batteries were recharged during his first full offseason with the Detroit Pistons.
But he didn’t spend the time idly.
In a 25-minute session less than a week before the start of training camp, Casey touched upon many topics.
Blake Griffin’s surgically repaired left knee is fine.
First-round pick Sekou Doumbouya, the youngest player in the NBA, could be headed to a redshirt year.
He is pondering if third-year shooting guard Luke Kennard is better served coming off the bench.
He is aware of the doomsayers saying the Pistons will struggle when the regular season begins Oct. 23 at the Indiana Pacers.
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But there was a dominant theme.
If the Pistons are to improve on last season’s 41-41 record and first-round exit, they must get better offensively.
“Our identity has to be a 3-point shooting team,” Casey said. “We have to be with the new NBA, the style of play we want to establish. I felt like we established that style last year and we were shooting analytical shots, but we weren’t making them, but all the statistics will show we were taking the right shots, now we got to make those shots.”
The modern NBA is about 3-point attempts and shots at the rim.
The Pistons finished 23rd (34.8%) in 3-point shooting percentage – despite finishing sixth (34.8 per game) in attempts.
The Pistons had one of the worst shooting percentages (26th) in the league on shots from 5 feet or less.
It led the Pistons to scoring 108.4 points per 100 possessions, which was 21st in the NBA.
The Pistons were getting the right kind of shots; they just shot blanks until proficient shooting in the second half boosted the playoff push.
Although the roster features seven new faces, the team’s top three scorers — Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson —return.
Seven rotation regulars also return so the hope is continuity from Casey’s first season to his second will offer growth.
Toss in an improved bench featuring free agents Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris, and the hope is it leads to more wins.
The offense should be more diverse. Griffin carried the Pistons before the All-Star break.
Drummond, Jackson and Kennard grabbed the baton when Griffin wore down as the season progressed and the team grew more familiar with how Casey wants to play.
“With a year under our belt together, a year understanding the shot spectrum, we’ll be able to make more of those shots,” Casey said.
And the addition of Rose gives the Pistons one of the best offensive players off the bench in the league.
There are other areas of improvement.
Casey thinks a quicker pace would help —the Pistons finished 28th.
“We got to get our pace up, getting the ball across half-court quicker and not walk it up,” Casey said. “We can get so many more easy buckets if we get our pace up and catch a team before they’re set or catch them when they fall asleep.”
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Will Kennard start?
Reporters tried to pin down Casey on Kennard’s role this season.
Will he start or come off the bench?
Casey didn’t bite. Or did he?
“No decision’s been made,” Casey said. “I’m not going to put anything on concrete. I like him with the second unit. We utilize his skillset more with the second unit.”
Everyone is aware of the issue.
Kennard is one of the most talented offensive players on the team, but he tends to get lost when starting alongside Griffin, Drummond and Jackson.
Kennard is a solid playmaker, but he becomes just a floor spacer with the starting group.
When he excelled in the second half, it was coming off the bench.
Still, with Tony Snell likely getting first crack at small forward, the shooting guard spot will be one of training camp’s most interesting battles.
Kennard will be going against incumbent Bruce Brown, Svi Mykhailiuk, Langston Galloway and Khyri Thomas.
Pistons in good health
Casey reported the roster is relatively healthy — although there are things to monitor.
Griffin had left knee surgery shortly after the season. He’s not as healthy as he was at this time last year before he performed the best statistical season of his career, but he is cleared to practice.
Kennard was bothered by a sore foot toward the end of last season and Casey said the organization managed his workload in the offseason.
Jackson had a toenail removed recently, but Casey called it minor.
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Published at Wed, 25 Sep 2019 23:59:50 +0000