Opponent Scouting: Milwaukee Bucks. (Preseason)

Tonight the Pistons will be in Milwaukee to play the Bucks in their final preseason game of the season. I have not seen anything saying who both teams will play/won't play. My guess is that if Avery Bradley is able to play, the Pistons will try and get the starting lineup at least a little time (since they haven't been able to yet) but other than that it is entirely likely that both teams hold out a bunch of dudes.

 

The Them:

Once again, teams often hold out lots of guys in the last preseason game but whatever. The Bucks are lead by Giannis Antetokoumpo and he is the real deal on both ends of the floor. Khris Middleton should be healthy this year and is a sharpshooter from deep who can defend and is generally awesome. Jabari Parker is out for a while after tearing his ACL last year. Greg Monroe is still very good an hugely important as he remains the best bucket getter on the team, and the only hope for them to maintain some offense when Giannis sits. Beyond that though, it does get a bit thin for the Bucks. Mirza Teletovic can shoot but is terrible on offense, Thon Maker is a baby and we don't know if he is actually any good yet, Matthew Dellavedova was very bad last year, Malcolm Brogdon can play but isn't all that remarkable, Tony Snell can shoot and play a little defense, they have a few dudes off the deep bench who maybe can do some stuff like Gerald Green, but it is a bit ugly.

This team is going to be hugely reliant on their top 3 of Giannis, Middleton, and Monroe (add in Jabari Parker when he comes back) and their success this season will largely depend on a combination of those guys staying healthy and hoping that the guys around them can manage to do just enough to not hold them back. If they can stay mostly healthy and get decent years from a few of their backend guys this team could be very good, if their role players struggle or especially if any of their top 3 guys miss major time they could find themselves in real trouble.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • People vs Playing: Once again, a lot of teams rest most of their guys for the last preseason game. I haven't seen anything about who will and won't play tonight.

  • Starters cohesion? If the Pistons actually play their starters it will be the first time they all get on the floor together, so watch to see how they end up looking.

  • Jackson vs Drives: He has been attacking the paint consistently so far, which is the best sign possible for the Pistons. If he plays tonight hope that it continues.

  • Drummond vs Free Throws: KEEP HITTING THEM BIG FELLA

  • Galloway/Jackson vs Hitting some shots: Both guys have mostly played well this preseason, but have missed a lot of shots. Its preseason so it isn't a worry, but I'd feel better if they shot really well to get some confidence going into the regular season.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • The Pistons starters play, and they look real good.

  • Reggie keeps attacking the paint.

  • Andre keeps hitting free throws.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Anyone gets hurt.

  • The starters play and are visibly uncoordinated.

  • NO ONE GET HURT PLZ JESUS

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Jackson keeps missing too many shots but keeps getting into the paint.

  • Stanley Johnson misses every 3 he takes.

  • Andre keeps nailing free throws.

 

What do you think? What are you looking for tonight?

Game Recap/Notes: Preseason game #4. Pistons 94 - Raptors 116. (2-2)

A bit of a rough game, but it is preseason and these things happen. In the end most guys looked bad, with a few exceptions in between, it is a good sign that they let Reggie play a little bit on the back to back.

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

Only played 20 minutes on the back to back, but that is a good sign overall. Initially they were not sure he was going to play more than like 10 minutes in the previous game, and he ended up playing over 20, and they let him play on the second night too, so that is a good sign that he is feeling good. As far as his actual play goes, he didn't have a very good game statistically but I actually am still very encouraged by his play. Some people made a big deal of the -29 in just 20 minutes, which is pretty remarkably bad, but I really wouldn't take too much of that. He played with some goofy lineups (in the 4th quarter he took the floor with Galloway/Bullock/Ellenson/Leuer and they got beat to crap pretty bad) and he generally actually looked ok. I thought Drummond was, by far, the worst Piston (more on him later of course) and he ended up with just a -3.

Regardless, Jackson finished with just 6 points on 8 shots, with 2 assists against 2 turnovers, 1 rebound, and 1 steal which is a bad stat line when combined with the -29. HOWEVA, if you were to swap him exactly with Ish tonight, in terms of how they played, it would've been worse for him. Despite missing some shots, Jackson once again was in the paint consistently and only puled up for 1 jumper, and he even made a few nice defensive plays and looked visibly less fatigued in this game. Especially in the preseason, I would rather see Reggie getting into the paint and just missing some shots due to rust than pulling up for lots of jumpers and happening to hit them. It should also be noted that he should've had at least a couple more assists if other guys had finished some plays. (Especially Drummond)

 

Luke Kennard:

Kennard remains utterly unremarkable in preseason. He had a rougher night in this one with just 2 points on 6 shots with 2 assists, and he also looked a bit out of place on defense for the first time as he racked up 4 fouls in just 19 minutes. That unremarkable still isn't all bad as he isn't making terrible mistakes with regularity like Ellenson is, but I would like to see a little bit more. The biggest complaint I have with him is that he hasn't been trigger happy enough from 3, being too willing to pump fake closing out defenders and take a dribble in for a long 2. TAKE THE 3.

 

Stanley Johnson:

For the first time this preseason, Johnson didn't look awesome but he still did fine. 6 points on 7 shots (2-4 from deep) with 5 rebounds and a really nice assist to Andre Drummond with 2 turnovers in 24 minutes. He just didn't seem to have the same defensive impact he has had in the other games, and he didn't touch the ball as much on offense I felt. Regardless, he wasn't bad, and it is super encouraging to see him hitting some 3s (especially from the corners) but not much to take away from this game.

 

Tobias Harris:

Harris remains the guy I am worried the least about this preseason, but he had a rough go of it tonight. Just 9 points on 10 equivalents in 25 minutes, with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. He struggled to get going offensively against Serge Ibaka, and Ibaka got open for several 3s against Tobias. Much like Stanley, I'm not worried about it at all, but it wasn't a good night for Tobias.

 

ANDRE-MUTHA-FUCKIN-DRUMMOND:

These are the rules. Drummond went 6 of 6 at the free throw line, and all season if he shots over 50% he is getting the honors, and the reality is that right now I don't care much about the other problems because it is preseason. He almost certainly won't shoot 80% from the line, but he is almost certainly going to be significantly improved.

HOWEVA, other than the free throws, this was one of the most bizarrely terrible games I've seen Andre play. He finished with 14 points on 13 equivalents, with 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 38(!!!) minutes. Which is a fine line, if a bit low on points and rebounds for his high minutes total, but he really was terrible defensively. And the thing is that it was in a really weird way, like it wasn't just that he was slow on some rotations or made some mental mistakes or bit on too many pump fakes. (tho that did happen.) He just made some totally dumbfounding decisions about doubling guys at stupid times and just not boxing dudes out occasionally. For now I'm going to assume that he is out of it after being sick the last few days and we can forget this happened, but he was TERRIBLE on defense. Even on offense, he just seemed totally off. Not just in a energy way, but he failed to hold onto some passes that were not hard catches and didn't really even stick around for any of his screens. Reggie missed like 2 or 3 assists because Andre just couldn't come down with alley oop passes. As long as that all proves to be an anomaly though, ANDRE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO HIT FREE THROWS AND THAT'S ALL I REALLY CARE ABOUT RIGHT NOW.

 

Langston Galloway:

Galloway had a decent game, and played a lot of minutes, 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 29 minutes of play. He got his 16 points on 17 equivalents, and generally tried to go inside more than I would like to see him do, but he was still very willing to fire away from deep which is still nice to see from someone on this roster. He looked fine, and he should be a solid piece on the team this year.

 

Ish Smith:

His jumper was falling on his way to 22 points on 15 equivalents with 8 assists against 1 turnover and the only guy on the team to go positive with a +7. But in the end, the scoring really was just a result of him happening to hit his jump shots, which does occasionally happen with him. Don't read too much into it beyond that, he also got the benefit of the Raptors playing their end of bench guys to close out the game.

Regardless though, he joins Tobias as someone who I am utterly unworried or interested in this preseason, we know what he is and what he is capable of, and I have absolute confidence in him to play up to the level the Pistons expect/need of him and this game only further cemented that.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Bit of a rough go for Bullock who missed both his 3 point shots on his way to 4 points on 6 shots with 3 rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes. He didn't have the ball find him as much as it often does when he is on the floor, but he looked fine other than that. He is somewhat like Tolly where on a game to game basis his contributions will fluctuate quite a bit with whether he hits his 3s or not.

 

Henry Ellenson:

I think it is official, Ellenson is not ready for any significant playing time when the season starts. He still shows a great offensive skill set that can be used in certain situations, but his defense is miserable to the point that it basically breaks the entire team on that end. He finished this one with 9 points on 5 shots with 2 rebounds and an assist.

 

Jon Leuer:

I don't think it was really his fault, but he joined Jackson in a horrible plus minus finish with -22 in just 14 minutes. In the end though, 6 points on 5 shots, and 3 rebounds while playing all his minutes at center is fine. I like him getting some minutes there.

 

General:

The Pistons only took 17 3 pointers which is a problem, the Raptors shot really well. It should also be noted that the Raptors didn't really go on any huge run, they just sort of continually built a lead and kept it going. In the end I'm not worried about the final score. Jackson continues to be encouraging with how much time he is spending in the paint, Andre is hitting his free throws, and Stanley is hitting enough shots to survive on offense. Those were the 3 biggest question marks heading into preseason and they are all looking good so far, so I'm coming away with a good vibe still.

Game Recap/Notes: Preseason Game #3. Pistons 107 - Pacers 97. (2-1)

Tough to take too much from this given the fact that both teams sat a bunch of guys, but its nice to get a win even if it doesn't count. And there was some stuff learned here other than just Reggie Jackson's return. As an FYI, I'm going to talk about Jackson more than anyone else in this recap.

 

Box score.

 

Disclaimer:

It is preseason, take every observation with a grain of salt. Take it with an extra grain of salt for this game given all the guys that sat. Just assume that every observation comes with the asterisk of being preseason.

 

 

Reggie Jackson:

The thing we've been waiting for. I said before hand to not worry much about what kind of numbers he ended up with (good or bad) and look more so with the eye test as to how he plays. And the eye test comes away with being mostly positive I would say. He regularly got into the paint, and I believe that his first jump shot didn't come until his 5th or 6th shot and other than his 3s he only took one jumper. Other than that he was attacking the paint, throwing those goofy floaters, getting some layups, and throwing some nice passes to shooters. Offensively the only worry was that he failed to finish a few plays that he really should've. I wouldn't worry about it yet, but given that he was mostly finishing over the ground-bound Al Jefferson I'd feel a little better if he hit a couple more of his shots.

The first half was a bit of a struggle, he missed his first 3 shots and the Pistons tried to feed Boban a little bit too much and they were an abject disaster on defense which wasn't surprising given that the starting lineup was Jackson/Kennard/Johnson/Ellenson/Boban. In the second half though it really started to click, the Pistons tossed out a lot of crap and just had Jackson run pick and rolls almost every time down the court, and he settled in quickly and he lead the comeback to open the 3rd quarter. He even managed a few possessoins of good defensive play which included a steal. He finished the night with 14 points on 16 equivalents with 6 assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes of play. Once again, I'd feel a little bit better if he'd hit a couple more shots, but this was a very good look on offense for him, especially given that with all the guys who sat he was mostly playing with at least 3 other guys who he has very few reps with, and even Stanley Johnson is not a guy he has spent a ton of time on the floor with.

Defensively he looked largely like his old self too, which is to say that his effort came and went. He had some plays where he was very bad, and some others where he made nice plays. Probably a net negative on that end, but not a huge one overall. And yes he did look a bit gassed at times, but even when he has been doing full conditioning he looks gassed most of the time.

Lastly it should be noted that point guard is the one spot where the Pacers actually used their regular guys at, and Jackson spent most of the game going against Darren Collison and Corey Joseph who are the Pacers actual point guards.

So yeah, a good start. Not totally triumphant, but a good look regardless.

 

Luke Kennard:

Kennard got the start with Bradley getting the night off, and he looked fine. He had 6 points and 2 rebounds in 26 minutes, and was largely not much of a factor. It is nice to see that teams seem to already have some respect for his jumper so he provides some spacing even when he isn't scoring so he has that going for him.

I do have to say that I have mostly been impressed with Kennard defensively this preseason. Off the top of my head I cannot think of any specific time where he really blew a play on defense, and there are a few legitimately good plays I can think of. He hasn't made a huge impact this preseason, and I want less long 2s and more 3s, but he certainly looks like he belongs on an NBA floor, on both ends.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Unless Jackson has a huge breakout game and/or Andre hits a bunch more free throws, Stanley Johnson is ver likely to be the best thing the Pistons have had happen in the preseason. Entering the season he is a big X factor for the Pistons, given his obvious potential and the fact that he hadn't really put it together yet. This preseason he has looked GREAT. I cannot overstate how good he has looked. And that isn't because he is shooting pretty well from deep (particularly the corners it seems) but his general offensive confidence looks great. He is handling the ball, making good passes, and hitting some shots in the paint. Even if he was missing more shots, he has looked a lot more sound on offense than last year. In this game he scored 11 points on 10 equivalents (1 of 4 from the free throw line hurt him) with 6 rebounds and a steal, and even though this game is one you can kind of throw out the +/- given the weird rotations of who was playing, he once again had a monster +18.

The real goodness is on defense though, where he has looked almost comically good in preseason. He has totally dominated whoever he has come into contact with on that end, and clearly has put in all the work. He looks like he may arrive in full force as the defensive menace he was projected to be in the draft, and that is going to yield some great stuff. I am making an official prediction here with Stanley, he is going to be the Pistons minutes leader by the end of the year.

 

Henry Ellenson:

He somehow finished the game with a game high +25 which I almost think may be a mistake. He continued to show off his wonderful offensive arsenal with 11 points in 12 shots with 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes. He hit some jumpers, a tough floater, and showed off his great handles and good passing on a few different possessions.

HOWEVA, it is undeniable that he has been pretty terrible on defense in the preseason. Given his offensive skillset I really want him to see the floor this year, but if he can't clean up a bit on that end it will be hard to argue much if SVG nails him to the bench again. His defensive issues were made worse by the fact that he spent quite a bit of time with Boban, who has pretty similar defensive issues as Ellenson and made for a very slow footed front court, but even beyond his own physical limitations he just makes mental mistakes. His pathway to being serviceable on defense involves great discipline and heady play, and he is miles from that right now.

 

BOBAN:

A little uneven but ended up mostly good in the start for Boban. He finished the night with 14 points on 9 equivalents with 5 rebounds in 21 minutes. He left the game early but didn't appear seriously hurt, no word yet (that I've seen) on what happened though.

The main downer for him was on the defensive end tonight where the Pacers jumped out to a big lead early in the game largely by exploiting him (and Ellenson) on their way to lots of open floaters. Admittedly, most nights teams will miss a few more of those (and they did eventually tonight even) but it is something the Pistons will largely have to give up with Boban on the floor. They will have him hang way back in pretty much every situation, which means that any time the perimeter defenders get beaten even a little bit there will be windows in the short range. Once again, I don't see this as being a huge issue, but there will be stretches this year where opponents are nailing those floaters and it is just a reality of playing Boban. Mostly a good night still for Boban though, as he got back several of those points on the other end, and mostly did a nice job of holding Al Jefferson in place.

 

ERIC-MOTHER-FUCKIN-MORELAND:

Getting extra minutes with other guys sitting, Eric Moreland, who the Pistons pulled off the scrap heap this summer, put up this line: 4 points, 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 steal, 1 block, and 5 assists(!!!!) in 27 minutes. I liked him in Summer league and was pleased to see him get a contract, but it is becoming totally stupefying that he hasn't been able to stick on a roster until now. He is a little bit undersized as a center, but he is a good athlete with good instincts for blocks and steals, he plays hard, and HE CAN FREAKING PASS. I noted this as a pleasant development after the last game, but it is now a full blown great advantage that I had no idea would be there for him. In the second half, having him share the front court with Henry Ellenson provided a ton of passing from the bigs that the Pacer scrubs had a ton of trouble with and proved to be pretty deadly. This was not a fluky 5 assists, this dude has good vision and is a very willing passer. I love Eric Moreland, and if it was still Baynes instead of Boban in front of him I would be passionately yelling about playing him in the rotation. He has really impressed in 2 preseason games.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

The Tolliverse continued to show why he is here, and why he should be so valuable to the Pistons. On a team that coughed up more long 2s than any other last year, Tolly is here to gun from deep and has little interest in anything else. (other than the occasional cut for some sexy big to big passing from Eric Moreland) He finished the night with 13 points on 6 equivalents, going 3 of 4 from deep, with 2 rebounds, an assists and a pair of steals. I'm not totally sure how he will hold up defensively given that he relies a lot on quickness and he is a year older, but he is going to be huge this year for the Pistons.

 

Reggie Bullock:

My biggest man crush in the NBA got his first look of the preseason and did not dissapoint. Bullock scored 13 points on 10 shots, including 3 of 5 from deep, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. Like Tolly, he is out there looking for 3 pointers and cuts to the hoop, with not much interest in anything else. He also continued his regular excellent passing and ball movement. Throw him in with Moreland and Ellenson as a trio of great non-ball-handler passing that gave the Pacers fits in the second half. He also really looked nice and locked in on defense which was nice. Reggie Bullock is good at basketball and I love to watch him, he better get some freaking playing time this year.

 

Ish Smith:

Same old, same old, mostly. His jumper got going a bit in this game on his way to 14 points on 12 equivalents with 9 assists and 2 turnovers. He also played mostly good defense. It was nice to see that he has some good vibes with his fellow bench players, but other than that not much to take from this game. Ish is Ish, which is good.

 

Langston Galloway:

Ended up playing just 16 minutes for some reason while getting his first minutes at the 2 guard spot. He did score 7 points on 7 equivalents with some good defensive play which was good. He also is out there gunning for 3s, although at some point all the missed layups will break me I think.

 

General:

Jackson looked good, Stanley continues to be great. Other than that there isn't much to take from this game, and those two things come with sizable grains of salt. Still, it was nice to see the Pistons make some shots and show some nice coherence.

 

What do you think? What did you see?

 

Opponent Scouting: Indiana Pacers (preseason)

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Indiana Pacers at the LCA. This will be the last preseason game at home for the Pistons before going on the road for 2 more and then the regular season opens.

 

The Them:

The Pacers probably have a few too many NBA caliber players on the roster to be downright terrible, but they do not figure to be much good. Darren Collison will probably start at point for them and he is mostly capable, he has a killer midrange jumper. The expensive Victor Oladipo is the off guard and this is realistically the last season for him to prove that he is able to be anything remarkable as an NBA player, as of now he is still a inefficient scorer who needs the ball in his hands who also isn't a good passer. Bojan Bogdanovic can shoot the lights out and is able to create some buckets for himself and Thad Young will continue to click away as a efficient and effective scorer in the paint. Myles Turner now has the team pretty much put into his lap, and he is bursting with potential but is probably still too young and raw to really be fully ready for it. Cory Joseph is a really good backup point guard and Glenn Robinson III is a rock solid and versatile wing off the bench. Al Jefferson is alive, Lance Stephenson is a maniac, Damantas Sabonis is looking to bounce back after a rough rookie year where he was tossed into the fire of a win-now team in OKC. T.J. Leaf may end up being good but I don't know enough about him to say much there with confidence till I see him more.

In the end, the Pacers have got like 8 dudes who are definitely NBA caliber players even if none of them are very remarkable. If any of their question marks come together they will have a certain amount of competence, particularly given that this franchise is unlikely to tank, but they just don't have enough talent to really do anything beyond that basic competence.

 

 

Matchups To Watch:

  • REGGIE IS PLAYING: This is THE question mark for the team this season, and Jackson is slotted to play in limited minutes tonight. Unfortunately he will be without Drummond (who I think is still dealing with the pink eye I guess?) so it will be a little bit tough to say too much, but even so there are some specifics to watch for. Don't worry about if he is hitting shots, but worry about what kind of shots he is taking. If he goes 5 for 5 but they are all pull up jumpers it would be worse than him going 0 for 5 but all 5 shots coming at the hoop where he just blows the layup. There is almost certainly going to be some rust, but he is the guy to watch tonight.

  • Galloway vs Shooting guard: After spending the first two games getting minutes at backup point guard, Galloway is likely to be the starting shooting guard tonight with Avery Bradley getting the night off. Galloway has some serious limitations as a point guard and figures to get most of him minutes this year as the 2 guard. It will just be interesting to see how he does in the role he will be in most of the year.

  • Big man rotation: SVG has a lot of options up front and has already done some experimenting with who to play at what times. With Andre out again he will get to do some more and it will be interesting to see how it goes.

 

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Jackson is getting into the paint at will and looks super comfortable

  • Galloway is thriving as an off ball gunner from deep

  • The Pistons continue to get some extra cohesion

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Jackson looks miserable

  • The Pistons start to turn it over a bunch again

  • The Pistons are taking a ton of long 2s again

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Jackson tries to do too much and has some bad misses and turnovers, but looks healthy and ready to go

  • Galloway hits like five 3 pointers

  • Anthony Tolliver plays significant minutes

 

What do you think? What will you be looking for from Jackson?

Game Recap/Notes: Preseason Game #2. Pistons 109 - Hawks 87. (1-1)

Well that game was kind of a crap show given the guys who sat out, but still in was a kind of nice crap show. Reggie Jackson was held out again for the groin issue (he was on the sideline tonight though and energetic so that was nice I suppose) and Andre has pink eye so he didn't play either.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

Ish had a nice bounce back from a bit of an uneven opening preseason game with a great performance. He finished the night with 8 assists and just 1 turnover after 5 turnovers in the last game, and he found his jump shot in the second half on his way to 15 points on 10 shots. (all points coming in the second half) He also had 5 rebounds on the night and was active on defense on his way to compiling a game high +26 on the night. Very good night for Ish, nights like this where he actually hits some jumpers are always fun with him.

 

Avery Bradley:

Bradley joined his backcourt mate in having a nice bounce back tonight. Finishing the night with 18 points on 15 equivalents with a pair of rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals. In addition to his steals he made several nice defensive plays and I am pretty sure that he is going to be an absolute joy to watch on that end of the floor all year long. The thing that was particularly impressive in this game was that Bradley had quite a few nice drives to the hoop which has never really been an overly strong point for him. Hopefully he can start finding some more 3s though.

 

Stanley Johnson:

His stat line didn't end up being all that incredible, but by the eye test this game was as good as Stanley has played in the NBA. He finished the night with 10 points on 9 shots, 4 rebounds, a pair of assists, and a steal and he went 2 of 3 from deep. He was confident and effective on offense with a couple very nice passes and had a good drive to the hoop as well. Stanley looks to be pretty well poised on the offensive end and it really does continue to look like all he has to do is manage to get the ball to fall into the hoop because he is doing everything else right. Defensively he was excellent as well, and even though he was not exactly guarding a murderers row I don't think there was hardly a possession where he seemed to be even slightly challenged. Time will tell if he can keep his defensive focus all the time and get the ball in the hoop, but through two games he has been great and sported a second best +22 on the night after a game high in the previous game.

 

Tobias Harris:

Once again Tobias was pretty good, and once again I am not really interested in him. I am totally confident in him come season time. He scored 17 points on 14 shots and went 3 of 5 from deep with 6 rebounds on the night. Solid night for Tobias. Once again it would be nice to see him have a big night scoring before the games start to count but other than that, there isn't much I am looking for from him.

 

Jon Leuer:

Starting at center with Andre sidelined, and Leuer played very solidly. He only played 25 minutes, but scored 6 points on 7 shots with 11 boards, 3 assists, a steal, and a block (I think he actually had 2 blocks FWIW) and one big thing that a positive result of him playing center for (I think) all of his time on the floor is that he didn't even attempt a 3, and it wasn't because he passed up on a bunch of open ones. I hope that SVG continues to try Leuer as a center when the season starts because I think Leuer is a better fit there quite frankly, and I also loved the combination of having him along with Ellenson as the front court. That is just a great combination of size and skill coming off the bench together. It should also be noted that he went +18 in his 25 minutes.

 

Luke Kennard:

Kennard continues to look like he belongs on an NBA floor, scoring 9 points on 10 shots with 4 boards and a pair of assists to get a bench high +11 in 26 minutes. Curtesy of some better camera angles from tonight, I can confirm that Kennard is more than just a shooter more confidently than after game one. He has some legit handles and quicks with the ball in his hands, on one possession he straight up ghosted a guy (though he missed the shot) and the Hawks also threw traps at him to keep him from letting fly off the dribble.

On the defensive end in particular though, I was able to get a better look, and I came away mostly impressed. He got his hands on a few passes, largely stuck with his guys, and was unremarkable for his goodness or badness. Once again, this wasn't great competition but I will take it. If he keeps this up in preseason I will be rooting for him to get playing time more than I was heading into the year.

 

Eric Moreland:

Moreland got his first playing time for 21 minutes tonight and he picked up right where he left off in summer league. In his 21 minutes he had 2 points on 1 shot, 13 rebounds, and 2 fouls. That is his entire stat line. He is a bit undersized but a good athlete and energy big which I think is perfect for a 3rd big. He did surprise me with a few very nice passes as well. Regardless, I would say that it should be fair to expect him to be capable of filling a similar role of Joel Anthony previously.

 

Langston Galloway:

Not the best night for Langston, but he's just getting his misses out of the way while they don't count I'm sure. He scored no points on 0 for 9 shooting, but I will still give him credit for not being afraid to fire from deep which was still a problem for a lot of the team. He missed a few bunny layups which was frustrating, but that isn't his game. I will be interested to see how they use him as a 2 guard, since his lack of slashing/finishing really hinders his ability to be overly effective as a point guard. He does look like he is kind of a menace on defense still though which I very much like.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

TOLLY HAS RETURNED. He scored 13 points on 8 equivalents, going 1 of 3 from deep and doing some work off of cuts and even a post up. He showed more comfort last year with doing some stuff closer to the hoop and it showed tonight. Tolly just makes winning plays and that was evidenced tonight. Get the dude on the floor somehow please.

 

Henry Ellenson:

Let's start with the bad. He still looks comical on defense, and not just in the “He can't guard that guy” but in the “Does he even know there is a game going on around him right now?” kind of way. And the bad news is that SVG is going to be (rightfully) very reluctant to play him when it counts while making those kind of defense breaking mistakes. HOWEVA, Henry Ellenson can freaking ball on the other end. He finished the game with 16 points on 11 equivalents and a pair of assists in just 17 minutes. He can spot up, he can kill people putting it on the floor, he can pass, he can finish. Dude is THE complete package on offense, and I am almost ready to officially dub him as being a real asset going forwards. I just hope he can figure out some defensive stuff so SVG can play him.

 

Scrubs:

Some scrubs played. I don't care.

 

General:

I'm glad that SVG is getting a little bit funky with lineups in preseason and trying some stuff out but the Pistons have too many power forwards who should be on the floor. In the end, I still need to see Reggie play before my mind is put at ease, but so far so good.

 

 

What do you think? What did you see worth noting?

Opponent Scouting: Atlanta Hawks. (Preseason)

Tonight at 7:00 pm EST the Pistons will host the Atlanta Hawks for their second preseason game after a loss to the Hornets on Wednesday.

 

The Them:

The Hawks are among the number of teams who are figuring to be real bad this year. I'm not sure how many of their guys they are going to play or how much they will play as this is their 3rd preseason game.

The team that led to the moniker of “Spurs East” is dead and gone now with the trading of Kyle Korver and the departure of Paul Millsap and they are more or less in rebuilding mode. Dennis Schroder is probably their best player at point guard, and while he isn't great he has shown some real ability. Kent Bazemore is a very good defender who is looking to bounce back after a pretty miserable offensive year last year. Our old friend Ersan Ilyasova is in Atlanta this year as well and there is no reason to think he will do anything other than the good job of spacing the floor he has done his whole career. Taurean Prince is a wrecking ball who could end up being good, DeWayne Dedmon is a decent athlete, Marco Belinelli can still shoot. They have one of the bad plumlee's on their team as well. This team could end up being better than people think with the right combination of young guys getting better and good coaching, but their best case scenario is probably a nice story about chasing the last spot in the playoffs late into the season and they probably won't actually sniff that.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Reggie vs. Playing: As of the writing of this, they have not decided if he will play or not. Seeing if he looks healthy or not remains the biggest thing I want to see from this preseason and until we start to get some actual evidence that he is going to be healthy this year, there will remain an uneasy energy around the team.

  • Andre vs Pink Eye: Andre apparently was isolated from the team in practice yesterday with a case of pink eye. As such there is a chance that he will not play tonight. As of now no decision has been made.

  • Pistons vs Shooting 3s: I brought this up in the recap of the last game, but I really don't want any more plays were a long two is the designed outcome. Avery Bradley and Luke Kennard should come off of screens beyond the long line, not a foot inside it.

  • Tobias vs Rage: I kind dig trash-talking Tobias getting a tech in a preseason game. I'm all behind Dark Tobias.

  • Pistons vs General cohesion: It is to be expected to an extent in preseason, but there was some definite cohesion issues on both sides of the court in the last game with dumb turnovers and bad communication. Look for it to hopefully improve.

  • NO ONE GET HURT: The Hornets lost their second best player for 8-12 weeks on Wednesday. Please don't let something like that happen to the Pistons.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Reggie Jackson plays, and he looks real good.

  • The Pistons decide that taking, and hitting 3s is actually a good thing.

  • No one gets hurt.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Someone gets hurt.

  • Reggie plays but doesn't look good.

  • LONG TWOS FOREVER BABY.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Its preseason who cares about these predictions anyways?

 

What do you think? What are you looking for tonight?