Game Recap/Notes: Preseason Game #3. Pistons 99 - Hawks 94. 1-2.

Well, the Pistons finally let Ish Smith run some pick and rolls, and in a battle of teams not playing several key guys the Pistons came out on top.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

It is not a coincidence that Ish's best game in a Pistons uniform came in the game where SVG decided to let him run some pick and rolls. Ish was probably the Pistons best player tonight and looked largely comfortable and in control of the offense whenever he was handed the reigns, finishing the game with 18 points on 13 equivalents, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists with 0 turnovers. He still was a little too trigger happy with his jumper at times for me, he can shoot them when he's open, but if there is still time on the clock I would rather him try and get another look because he is not that good a shooter. He also continued his somewhat surprising solid defensive play, staying with his guy more often than not, and pulling out the second really impressive block of the preseason. He will never be a lock down guy, but his speed and hustle can bother people. Overall a really good game for Ish and nice to see him settle in more, I expected that he only needed some pick and rolls to get going, but it is nice to get some confirmation.

 

KCP:

Man, its preseason so you can't read too much into it, because KCP could suddenly hit a lot more of his shots in the next game and suddenly look alright again, HOWEVA, he is off to a miserable start holy crap. He is now 1-11 (although really 1-10 because one was a half court heave) from 3 after going 0-4 tonight, and he is shooting an impressive 24% from the field through 3 games overall, which is an impressive 24% better than a dead shooter. The percentages are not really what the worry is though, it is preseason so I'm not going to get too worried or excited about someones shooting, what is worrying is that he clearly has not gained any comfort in putting the ball on the floor and creating, or even handling the ball at all, but he seems to believe that he has gained this ability. The end result has been lots of bad shots after dribbling himself into a hole while an open teammate watches helplessly on. If he was taking good shots and just missing them I'd be a bit discouraged because you always want to see the ball go through the hoop, but that would be alright, its that he has truthfully been playing poor offense no matter how you slice it. This is compounded by the fact that he still has not been able to be the destroyer of worlds on defense that he was last year, and if SVG doesn't get comfortable putting Ish onto wings and letting KCP take opposing point guards then it is going to be a rough go for KCP. By far his best attribute is his on ball defense, it is actually the only part of his game that is at a high level, and so far he has not been allowed to do it hardly at all. So pray that SVG is just not bothering to switch KCP because its preseason.

 

Tobias Harris:

Not a great game for Harris, but considering that he was essentially option 1a (or b) in the offense, finishing with 18 points on 21 equivalents is not terrible, especially with 7 boards and 4 assists added on. He got 2 or 3 shots swatted by Dwight Howard at the hoop early in the game and it made Harris a bit hesitant to drive all the way to the hoop, which is a bit worrisome, but fortunately he was nailing his jumper more often than not and ended the night with a bunch of high difficulty shots that he hit. And there is some reason to believe that Harris' improved jump shooting is a real thing because SVG has singled him out by name as a guy who has really improved his jumper, so hopefully he has fully added a deadly midrange game to fall back on. Defensively he continues to look like he has made some good strides as well, also in line with what SVG has said of him from practice. A nice game for Tobias, and he finished the game very strong as well.

 

Jon Leuer:

Came back to earth a bit after his first two games were brilliant, but still not a bad night for Leuer, finishing with 6 points on 10 equivalents, 9 boards and 3 assists. He missed a couple of bunnies that he hit in the first two games, and that will be a big question as to how good Leuer is, one play in particular stands out where he made a nice pump fake and drove into the lane and pulled up for a floater. He missed it tonight, but it was a really nice move, and if he can hit those sorts of shots with consistency he will be lethal on the offensive end, but if he can't then teams will run him off the line all they can. He did continue to show impressive ball skills with his handling and passing, running yet another fast break to perfection. Also of note, on one possession where he found Bazemore guarding him, he backed him down and hit a fadeaway jumper over him, which is something Leuer must prove he can do. A fine game for Leuer, he still is looking very good, the question will be what he will be more often in the season. The guy from Atlanta or from the first two games?

 

Aron Baynes:

Baynes did all of the Aron Baynes things that you expect from him now. The defense played off of him in various forms, and Baynes finished plays well enough to make them pay with goofy jump hooks, layups at the rim, a couple of midrange jumpers, and getting fouled. He finished the game with 16 points on 10 equivalents, and 7 boards. He also did Aron Baynes things on defense, playing his tail off and generally getting roasted while fouling everything in sight, I think at this point it should just be a given that if Baynes has to play more than 25 minutes he will foul out. But, there are worse defensive attitudes than “foul everything and they won't call all of them.” A fine game for Baynes, he is still a rock solid backup center, nothing more, nothing less.

 

Stanley Johnson:

With Morris out, Stanley finally got his first extended minutes of the preseason. It is kind of interesting that Leuer started over him, but I'm not sure if we can read anything into that or not. Offensively he was pretty solid scoring 12 points on 12 equivalents, although it included 8 free throws and a couple of those trips to the line where not really earned if you catch my drift. His 0 assists and 4 turnovers was far from ideal as well, but they were not all horrible turnovers. The real good news though, is that he continues to look more comfortable on defense, using his insane defensive talent to good use, he was very disruptive to the Hawks offense whenever he was on the floor. A fine game for Stanley, although the fact that he has yet to hit a 3 in the preseason is certainly not encouraging.

 

Ray McCallum:

Not a ton to say, I said in the preview that he needed to try and stand out, and he didn't do that. 4 points on 7 shots, 2 assists with 3 turnovers. Just nothing here to really hang your hat on if that makes sense. He certainly didn't do too poorly, other than 1 really bad pass he was not a hinderance to the offense at any point, but he certainly seems less willing to push the envelope to create offense than Brown did. On the plus side, he has proven that he can get down and play a little bit of defense, which I don't think Brown is really capable of doing with much success. Right now I would still put Brown slightly ahead of McCallum, with Brown getting a chance to put some real separation next game. But as long as the games are fairly in line with what is happening in practice, this could easily go either way still.

 

Boban Marjanovic:

Saw the good Boban with some nice passes and finishes deep in the paint, to go along with some commanding rebounds. He also got beat a couple times on defense and screwed up a couple of offensive sets. Still though, he looks a lot more comfortable on both sides of the ball than I was planning on him being. And SVG already has used his immense size to good results in creative ways. Based on the preseason so far I would guess Boban will not be taking many minutes from Baynes any time soon, but I do think he will be getting some minutes occasionally outside of garbage time.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Only played 13 minutes, scored 5 points on 3 shots. He had a couple of bad passes when he drove to the hoop, and I'm not sure that I much like him actually handling the ball as much as he did in this game. He can run the occasional pick and roll to try and get him an open midrange shot (ala KCP) but he is not very comfortable driving to the rim (also ala KCP) and defenders know that and key in on the pass. Still a fine game for Bullock, and based on the way Hilliard played against the Spurs I would say Bullock has a fair distance between himself and Hilliard right now.

 

General:

Disappointing that Ellenson and Gbinije didn't play after SVG had said Gbinije was going to make his debut. Still, it was nice to see the offense look better with some pick and rolls thrown in, hopefully SVG lets Ish and Andre run some next game so we can see what the offense will actually look like when it counts. Also, pray that KCP figures out his game by the time the regular season starts because he has been flat out bad so far. I'm also not sure what to think of SVG using a 9 man rotation IN A FREAKING PRESEASON GAME. He can coach, but I don't know why he is so afraid of playing guys sometimes.