After starting off a bit slow, the Pistons ended up catching fire at the end of the 1st half, and pulling away in the 2nd. And the good news is that the Bucks actually played most of their guys for a lot of the game so they were not just beating up on scrubs (like they did against Atlanta).
The first of my 3 predictions for the game was that Ish Smith would turn in another turnover free game, he helped me out and did just that. Ish is totally settled in and has reinforced my thoughts that the starting lineup will barely miss a beat without Jackson. Here is a fun fact, over the last 3 games Ish has 21 assists and no turnovers, and is 26 assists to 2 turnovers on the preseason as a whole. It may be preseason, but that is not an accident, this dude can pass. He did not score the ball much tonight, with just 5 points on 5 shots, but the 5 shots is a good indicator of that he didn't really have to score much. His final line of 5/7/3 is nothing special, but when you consider that it was done in just 20 minutes it is a solid line. Also, he continues to impress me with his defense as he got yet another block tonight. I figured he would be serviceable but not much good on defense, and through the preseason he actually looks to be quite good as long as he isn't totally undersized. Obviously he is not as good as Jackson, but I now feel totally comfortable with Ish as the starter for the first month of the season, and once he moves back with the bench mob the Pistons will be terrifying.
Score another one for Joe in the “Predictions that went well” category. He was not going to shoot 20% from 3 all year lol. KCP finished the game with 23 points on just 16 equivalents, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. It was very nice to see the ball go in the hoop, HOWEVA, this game actually didn't make me any less worried about KCP this year. I have repeatedly said all preseason that I'm not worried about his shooting % because it is preseason. The problem I have is that he has looked like he can't create any offense for himself or others still, has taken a lot of bad shots, and generally made poor decisions with the ball in his hands. Those 5 assists came with 4 turnovers, and he hit a single shot that wasn't a 3, and he jacked up some 3s that were totally irresponsible. Congratulations on the ball finally going in the hoop, but until he learns to play smarter offense he will continue to be in a perpetual shooting slump where he occasionally breaks out like this. Also, on a side note, I've thought this for a while but never dared to bring up my real thought as to KCP's upside as a player, but at this point I'm going all in on it. KCP's upside is the Cavs version of JR Smith. Shameless chucker from 3 who plays his tail off. If KCP could manage to get his shot in order that is what he will be, because he clearly is not going to become a threat putting the ball on the floor.
Once again Harris was a fairly steadying presence in the offense, getting really hard buckets on route to 16 points on 14 equivalents. I would like him to be a little bit more featured though, especially on a night were both Morris and Johnson are sitting on the bench the whole night, and Andre sits most of the first half with foul trouble. He also made a couple not nice passes to end up with 2 assists and 3 turnovers, throw in his 7 rebounds and it is a decent night for Harris on the offensive end. And until Reggie gets back in particular, it will be important to keep Harris' numbers in perspective, he is taking, by far, the hardest shots for the Pistons right now. Some of them are essentially bail out plays where the offense has failed and they toss him the ball and hope he manages to steal a bucket. His efficiency may not be awesome, but they will need him to keep getting those hard buckets especially until Reggie comes back. Also on the good side, Harris continues to show marked improvement as a defender.
Strange game for Leuer, I was surprised to see he played 24 minutes. He had very little impact on the game, scoring just 4 points on 3 equivalents to go with 3 rebounds and 0 assists. The only notable thing he did was hit a fadeaway jumper over Delly, which makes him like 6/6 on post ups of little dudes, which once again, is very important for him. Overall he just didn't do much, good or bad.
Frustrating start to the game getting into major foul trouble very quickly. But he gave a prime example of why he is the Pistons most important player, putting up a team high +25 in just 18 minutes, and it is not a coincidence that the Pistons made their run when he finally re-entered the game. Andre finished the game with 12 points on 6 equivalents (thats a perfect 5-5 from the field and 2-2 from the line) and 13 boards. Also, it is a crime he did not get any assists because he had (by my unofficial count) 4 awesome passes in this game. BOLD PREDICTION: Andre will average 3 assists per game this year.
His defense was important in this game as well, Giannis had his way early in the game in large part because Baynes was totally unable to deter him at the hoop, but once Andre came back in Giannis suddenly found it much more difficult to get easy looks at the hoop.
6 points on 9 equivalents, 5 boards, and 6 assists with 1 turnover. That's a pretty decent line for 27 minutes of play, but I will throw out there that his assists were a bit inflated due to KCP's hot hand. That said, he pretty much kept up what he has largely done so far this preseason, he generally made the right play but struggled to make plays that were not generated by the general offense. Brown will get one more chance to separate himself in a major way in the last preseason game, but with McCallum playing his last minutes of the preseason I would say Brown is likely to make the roster.
Another nice game for the rookie, scoring 14 points on 9 equivalents, to go along with 5 boards in 23 minutes. His ability to put the ball on the floor at his size is truly unique and will give a lot of guys trouble. I don't know that he will get many minutes this year, but he has certainly shown that if he is pressed into duty there shouldn't be need for panic. The one big question is how well he will shoot when the games count, because he was not supposed to be a good 3 point shooter right away since he wasn't a good one in college. But he has shot it really well the last 2 games (3/3 tonight) and if he were to actually be a reliable 3 point shooter it makes him much more viable as a guy who could play right now. Either way, nice game for Ellenson and its great to see him look good.
Not a great game for Bullock, he had a couple of miscues when handling the ball, and also just didn't look as crisp with his passing as he usually does. That said, 8 points on 7 shots and 2-6 from 3 is a fine night for him. I do think that he should probably not be running pick and rolls anymore, but other than that it was a fine game.
Only player to go negative on the night with a -11. A big part of that is because he was incapable of deterring Giannis at the hoop, and part of it is because he is totally outclassed by Greg Monroe. Either way, shooting 1-6 from the field doesn't help anything. Baynes is a good backup, but this game is a good reminder of why he is a backup. It wasn't really his fault, but he didn't do much to help the team.
Joe went 3/3 on his predictions for probably the first time ever, with the last prediction of “Gbinije keeps looking like he is going to be playing this year” came true. Here is a radical but true statement: (barring major swing in the last game) if the starting lineups were based solely on this preseason, Gbinije is the Pistons opening day starter at SG. I'm not kidding. First off, holy crap can this guy play defense. He stays in front of his guy, and is very hard to pick off with a screen, he is long and strong enough to keep with guys who have a bit of size on him as well, and he fared much better against Giannis than KCP did. I really enjoy the way he navigates screens though, that is not something rookies (even 24 year old ones) should be able to do so well, and he has looked unscreenable. (totally a word) On the other end, his combination of shooting, ball handling, and decision making is a combination that the Pistons simply do not have on the wing elsewhere. This combines for him to be looking like the most complete wing on the roster, as KCP is still not worth trusting on offense, Bullock can't handle the ball much and is nothing special on defense, and Hilliard might not actually be good at anything.
HOWEVA, he will not be starting, and likely will start the season with very few (if any) minutes and that is ok. KCP is a much more proven defender and Bullock is a more proven shooter. You don't want to throw a guy into a big role based on a couple of good performances in the preseason. That said, I want Gbinije to get some minutes, he has played to well at the Pistons weakest spot to leave him rotting on the bench.
8 points on just 4 equivalents, 4 boards (2 offensive), and several nice passes even if they didn't result in assists. Boban's size also was a nice counter to Giannis in the paint. I don't know that Boban should be playing over Baynes, but I wouldn't be angry if he did. His touch around the rim is great and he gets fouled a ton. He also swallows up rebounds on the offensive end, and his size alone makes him a capable defensive player. The only thing I see that Baynes has on Boban is that Baynes is a bit more mobile, and also is a bit better at being in the right spot more often due to being more experienced. Of course Baynes is fine, but I hope that SVG continues to give Boban some real minutes this season, because he brings some really good stuff to the table.
Ish finally got to run some pick and rolls with Andre, and it looked really good. Andre hit a pair of free throws, KCP finally hit a few shots, both the Pistons rookies look like viable NBA players. Today was a good day, even if it is just preseason, it was a fun game to watch.
What do you think? How much do you trust Gbinije? How about Boban?