As before, assume every observation comes with the asterisk of is preseason
Reggie Jackson: Played a really brilliant game tonight. Had too many turnovers, (although it should be noted one of those was him falling out of bounds and attempting to throw it off the pacers out of bounds so he really had 4 not 5) but even with the turnovers he looked really impressive all night. 7/11 from the field for 17 points and 8 assists. He also had the best +/- on the team. And his re-entry into the game late after most of the other starters nights had finished was big in getting the team back in the game. He looked fluid, let the offense come to him for the most part, and facilitated. This is what I am looking for from Jackson. Once again he needs to cut down on the turnovers still, but a really good night overall.
KCP: Quiet night on offense from KCP but was efficient. He also turned in a really good night on defense. (I thought at least) He made several nice hustle plays and was all up in the grills of various Pacers. Tonight was a good example of some growth for KCP on offense, the type of night that last year he might have had one of those shitty nights shooting from the field, but instead he passed up on looks that were not good, stayed efficient, and affected the game in other ways. The more he can learn that it is ok to score just 8 points and remain efficient when the D is geared up on him means the more consistent his shooting is this season. Good night for KCP.
Stanley Johnson: Got his first start (more on that later) and he looked very good playing with the starters, providing some secondary ball handling and creation beyond Jackson. He did not always finish the looks he created but he did well in creating them. And his overall stat line of 5/15 from the field is a little skewed from the end of the game where he clearly tried to force things because he was pretty easily the best offensive option at the end of the game. Although he should look to pass a little bit more, even if at the end of the game SVG told Johnson to really look to score, there were a couple of those shots where it simply was not going to happen. But that is water under the bridge quite frankly, Yet another performance that gives a little more hope that he is the real deal.
Marcus Morris: Fresh off making me feel smart in a great performance against the Bucks, he lays a bit of an egg tonight. These nights happen to everyone, and in particular for a guy who takes as many hard shots as Morris will, but in the end his ability to avoid nights like tonight where he just can't get it in the bucket will determine how good he will be for the team. I still believe that it will not be that often, but just as against the Bucks you could see the potential upside for how he can help the team, tonight you saw the downside for how he could be just kinda ok. However that is not all bad, he only ended up with 1 assist but he made several nice passes in the game. He also played some pretty solid defense. Overall it was nice to see him find ways to help the team when he was shooting poorly, however make no mistake, he needs to shoot well. His D and passing was pretty good tonight, but neither is good enough for him to be much of a positive when his shot is so off. So hope that this isn't a regular occurrence. (and FWIW I don't think it will be.)
Andre Drummond: Pretty much sums it up.
Ersan Ilyasova: Best game as a Piston, coming off the bench he was more aggressive in looking for his shot. While there were a couple times this ended poorly, it went well more often than not. I am not sure which alignment of forwards will be best this year, (once again, more on this at the end) but I liked Ersan letting it fly from deep and generally playing a little more loose. He is not awesome at creating shots, but he is tall enough that he can just shoot over a lot of people. And he did hit one nasty step back shot. Like Marcus Morris against the Bucks, he will not shoot this well every night, but he is capable of it. I (along with many of you) have thought he should be a little more willing to pull the trigger, and hey, we looked smart tonight. So for now we will all pretend that he will shoot that well every night. (Also his overall activity was just really good and provided nice jolts for the bench several times.)
Jodie Meeks: He had a pretty good game, his ability to get to the line is really valuable since he is such a good free throw shooter. I would not mind seeing him be even more aggressive in driving since he seems to draw so many fouls when he does, particularly when playing with a bench mob like he was at the end of the game, the team was really struggling to create anything. But overall he did exactly what he is here to do. Space the floor, hit some threes, hit some free throws. His defence also was ok tonight, which is not true every night.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Early on I was thinking that this was his best game of the preseason, then the 4th quarter happened. Once it was all the bench mobs, he basically vanished from the game. FWIW I do think he got nipped on 2 straight possessions by no calls. But it was still a bad finish to the game. HOWEVA. When he was simply playing normal backup PG earlier in the game he looked pretty good, he was aggressive in getting into the lane, and created some good looks for himself and others. So I will latch onto that and chalk up the 4th quarter to the fact that it was a bench mob game and just became really weird at that point. Also on a bad note, it can be said with some confidence at this point, that he is aware you do not score points for how creatively you can bounce the ball off the rim on jump shots.
Joel Anthony: Kept doing his thing, I don't think he blocked any poor sap tonight which was disappointing, but it will happen. He is a very limited player, but he brings energy. Thats pretty much what he did tonight. (just like every other night.)
Adonis Thomas: First playing time! He did not get a lot of time and when he was in he hit one shot and also got absolutely stuffed once. Essentially, there is not a lot to be gleaned from this game. Was good to see him play, and I for one am a big fan of his (I live in Grand Rapids and ergo saw him in person with the Drive several times) so I am rooting for him. However, he will have to try and show what he can do in another game.
Anthony Tolliver: Only played 5 mins, and did literally nothing. I only knew he played because I saw his socks in a replay at one point.
General notes: I don't think it really means a ton that Johnson started tonight. He has played well enough that he definitely deserves significant playing time, which means that the team has got 3 forwards who all deserve pleanty of time. Most likely, whichever one of the three (Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Stanley Johnson fyi) is on the bench will act as the teams 6th man. And tonight was likely just SVG toying with it to see which setup will work best. I would not be surprised to see Morris come off the bench next game, and it continue to rotate some the last few games of preseason. I did like Ersan coming off the bench, but I also think that Stanley is a much better creator/facilitator for bench mobs. Also letting Stanley play with bench units give him more time to spread his wings and learn through his mistakes a little bit more than he does with the starters. However, I will hold off on any real judgement on the situation. SVG will likely experiment a bit with it, and once I have seen how the different setups go, I will have a real opinion. Either way, I have some confidence that SVG will make the right call.
Overall it was actually a good game, all the starters but Stanley Johnson had positive +/- and I would wager a guess that before the end of the game Johnson too was positive. I was surprised there was no Aaron Baynes tonight since SVG said in a pre game interview that they would probably get him on the floor some tonight.
What did you think of the team's play tonight? Which of the 3 forwards should come off the bench? Have an opinion! We all get smarter!