First-round pick Henry Ellenson has impressed coach/executive Stan Van Gundy enough to earn significant preseason playing time, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. It’s an unusual accomplishment for a rookie, but the 19-year-old power forward has gotten the attention of coaches and teammates with how quickly he has adapted to the NBA game. “He is the perfect stretch four,” said Ish Smith. “Henry can shoot it, he can drive it, he can make plays and he’s a sponge. He does so many things out there. When Coach asks him to do things one time, he does it the next time and he doesn’t make the same mistakes. Henry has a fan in me and he’s going to give me a lot of assists. Henry can shoot the ball.” Despite the glowing reviews, Van Gundy noted that the Pistons already have Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer in place, so it may be hard for Ellenson to get minutes once the season starts.
There’s more today out of Detroit:
- The Pistons targeted Smith in free agency because of his experience as a starter, and that wound up paying off sooner than they expected, Langlois writes in a separate story. Smith will be counted on to hold down the starting role while Reggie Jackson tries to work through the tendinitis in his left knee. The Pistons said Jackson will miss “extended time,” which Van Gundy later clarified as six to eight weeks. “We need Reggie back, a speedy recovery,” Smith said. “But we have to do our job. Everybody’s getting paid, so we have to do our job and do what it takes to win those games while he’s out. Somebody has to step up. It is a different kind of feel, but I don’t want to overthink it. I just want to play and let the chips fall where they may.”
- Statistics suggest that replacing Jackson will be a difficult task, notes John Schuhmann of NBA.com. Jackson ran the pick-and-roll more than anyone else in the league last season, and his unique skills helped to make it successful.
- Morris needed a season of adjustment after being traded from the Suns to the Pistons, but he has become one of the team’s vocal leaders, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. That role came partially through his play, as Morris averaged 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game during his first season in Detroit. But it was also a matter of getting accustomed to his new surroundings. “It’s certainly noticeable that he’s talking more,” Van Gundy said. “We were just getting to know him last year, so we weren’t prodding him toward leadership and now he’s one of, if not the most respected guys in that locker room. Now he knows we want that from him.”