Pistons were facing an inferior team who was on the 2nd nigh of a back to back, a game the Pistons should be able to handle pretty easily, and they did just that. No complaints after this one, the only slight worry being KCP's leg, although he seemed fine in the end.
Played 28 minutes, which is pretty close to normal minutes for him (based on last year at least) and he ended up with a very solid stat line. Early in the game he missed a couple of shots and I was thinking that I was going to have to worriedly mention it in this section that he just seemed really off. But later in the game he found his groove, and started doing his thing by getting into the paint, hitting floaters, and drawing extra defenders for easy 3s for his teammates as well as putbacks for Andre. He finished up with 16 points on 17 equivalents, with 4 assists against 0 turnovers. Which is obviously not a monster night, but not bad. As he continues to shake off the rust he should only get better.
I made a point to single this out after the last game, but holy crap KCP has learned to pass and it is great for the Pistons. I probably sound like a broken record now, but even though his shot did continue to slide a bit from a peak a little over a week ago with 10 points on 13 equivalents, those 7 assists against 2 turnovers will continue to happen. Passing doesn't ebb and flow or regress. Throw in his new found floater and other nice in between moves (which he almost certainly learned from watching Reggie because he looks just like Reggie when he tries it) combined with chemistry with Andre and he has got himself a nice counter to his jump shot. He will almost certainly never even really qualify as a legit secondary ball handler but he has a nice bit of inside game now. The main question for him at this point is how he will fare once defenses adjust to this. If you recall, when Reggie first arrived in Detroit he was racking up absurd amounts of assists to Andre Drummond until defenses adjust last year. Now that KCP has shown that he can make those passes to Andre (and others) they will start to play towards it more, forcing KCP to hit more tough floaters and/or make harder passes to the outside. It is the second step for any player when he adds something significant to his game, but regardless, the simple fact that he will be forcing defenses to bend in ways they don't want to in order to account for his passing is great, and something that there was no sign of him being able to do. IF his shot does not fall off too far (which is still a worry) he will be a fully formed and pretty much ideal role player at the SG spot who can be the 4th or 5th best guy on the team. Which is great for him. Defensively he had (at times) a bit of a rough go against Lavine, but mostly did ok. He left the game late after hurting his leg, but he appeared ok while celebrating on the bench, so unless told otherwise I would assume he is ok. Good game for KCP.
Morris played pretty much the perfect game tonight. An efficient 15 points on 12 shots, including 3/6 from 3. Every shot he took was a good one that was within the design of the offense, and defensively he pretty well held Wiggins in check, largely thanks to him avoiding fouls. He did leave the game at the end with something wrong with his nose following a hit from Adrian Payne, hopefully it doesn't end up being anything too serious. Either way, it was a wonderful night for Morris, just what the Pistons want from him most nights.
Just Tobias things. 15 points on just 9 equivalents in just 24 minutes, largely do to some foul trouble. 1 assist and 1 steal round out his stat line, and he had a bit of a short but solid night once again. He really is one of the more consistently reliable guys I've had the pleasure of watching as far as scoring the ball goes. Tonight was another night where I didn't think he had really done anything of note but it was just because he was so stinking efficient. Defensively he did have some trouble with KAT but he still played pretty well.
Andre “is he elite tho?” Drummond:
Andre was dominant, and his final stat line does as good a job of showing it as anything. 22 points on 15 equivalents, (10 of 13 from the field and 2 of 4 at the line) to go along with 22 rebounds, 8 of which were offensive. To top it off he had a big stuff of KAT at the rim. Andre swallowed up rebounds like crazy and almost totally shut off one of the best offensive rebounding teams in basketball, while being too big for either Dieng or KAT to keep him off their own glass. I'm not hating on KAT because he is probably going to be awesome, but Andre was so much better than any of the Timberwolves bigs tonight, and given all the hype that surrounds the Wolves that is not given to the Pistons, despite the Pistons being almost as young, is pretty satisfying. Andre has back to back 20/20 games, and he was, by far, the best player on the floor tonight. Great game for Andre.
Leuer played a really great game tonight and had some extra duty after Tobias got into some early foul trouble. 17 points on 14 equivalents, including 7 of 8 from the line, which is a good indicator of how aggressive he was in attacking the rim. I don't know exactly how far Leuer can stretch his game and still be effective, but I kind of want to find out. Mark Dantoni has said that when you put limits on guys, they tend to hit them. SVG has said he wants Leuer to be more aggressive, and I want to see more of it and find out if he can do it effectively. Leuer also played very solid defense of KAT, in which SVG's desire for extra size on defense was finally validated for at least one night.
Another game of solid minutes for Hilliard, and I continue to be just as perplexed as to whether or not he is any good, or how much potential he actually has to be any good. At this point it is totally fair to say he is totally overmatched on defense if he has to guard anyone with any sort of scoring ability, as this is like the 3rd straight game where the opponent clearly decided “Yeah attack Hilliard” and SVG ended up pulling Hilliard a bit early to counter it. Offensively he is kind of slow in both his decisions and his shot release (the opposite of Reggie Bullock) and statistically has not been very good offensively. But despite all of that, when he does get the ball in his hands and has a green light, he hits some shots and makes some plays that are not plays just anyone can make. He finished the night with 5 points on 3 shots and an assist in 16 minutes. I kind of want to see Hilliard be given the full reigns of the offense in meaningful game time and see if he can replicate some of his garbage time/D-league scoring punch. Because using him as just a 3 and D guy is not enough, since he is so bad defensively and doesn't do anything quick enough to be a very good complimentary offensive player. Either way, it ended up being a decent offensive game and a bad defensive one. Hilliard intrigues me enough that I'm not upset he is playing, but I still do think I'd rather just stick Stanley back in, or give Gbinije a try if SVG is determined to bench Stanley.
Playing in what will likely be close to his normal minutes total with 15 minutes, Ish put up 8 points on just 5 shots, including 2 for 2 from deep, to go along with 6 assists against no turnovers with 2 steals. He pretty much just did his thing, he dribbled a bunch and found guys for open looks, and only took his own shots when the defense basically forced him to by leaving him so open. And it was the bench mob that really pulled away in this one, thanks in large part, to Ish's wonderful play. It is going to be so nice watching him come off the bench for the next few years.
Played 15 minutes, had 2 points on 2 shots, 2 rebounds, an assist, and 3 fouls. I don't know man. I keep telling myself (and all of you in these posts) that he is not that bad, but the last couple of games he has looked straight up bad. I don't know what exactly the deal is, maybe it is just me. But I'm starting to legitimately question whether he should be getting playing time at this point. On the plus side, he at the very least did not get in the way too much, as he posted a wonderful +23 in his 15 minutes.
Beno, Stanley, BOBAN, Ellenson:
Beno hit a couple free throws, Ellenson hit a 3, Stanley made a nice move and finished it, Boban didn't do anything. Pretty run of the mill for the end of the bench.
Very good win. Pistons did exactly what you would hope they do, and with a few more games coming up against teams the Pistons should beat, they could possibly be in for a good run. Andre is a freaking monster, and hope big time that KCP's shot doesn't fall too far because if he can keep it up then he has made the important step to being 100% worthy of being a starter on a good team.
About the fouls:
Its been brought up a few times, but the Pistons don't draw a lot of fouls mostly because of themselves. Other than Andre they just don't have anyone who draws many. The most often brought up guy is Reggie since he spends so much time in the paint, but if you look at his per 36 from his time in OKC they increased since coming to the Pistons, and were never high. I could go further into explaining it, but no, the refs are not out to get the Pistons. Having a lack of reputation does not help them, but mostly they just don't have anyone who is good enough to be fouled with much regularity other than Drummond when he is really going.
What do you think? Can KCP adjust his game to defenses planning for him? Does he have another trick to pull out at that point? (like maybe actually finishing in traffic) What do you think of Hilliard? Do you see potential or not?