The Pistons are finding early success by doing some things that are out of character, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Andre Drummond is perfect from the foul line, Reggie Jackson isn’t dribbling through the shot clock, Stanley Johnson is under control and coach Stan Van Gundy is giving minutes to his young players.
Another key to the successful start has been shooting guard Avery Bradley, who has bolstered the team’s defense and inspired Jackson to improve in that area. The opportunistic Pistons traded for Bradley in July when the Celtics were trying to clear cap room to sign Gordon Hayward.
“Anybody watching us can see a difference from what they had seen a year ago, in terms of the spirit and energy and fight — I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Van Gundy said. “To me, it’s some of the guys coming back, taking greater pride and understanding. We’ve seen Reggie, Andre and Stanley step up a lot more in terms of that. Avery has had a lot to do with it. They watch him every day in practice and it raises everybody’s level.”
There’s more out of Detroit:
- Van Gundy has been mixing and matching combinations through the first week of the season, notes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Eric Moreland, Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson, Anthony Tolliver, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway and Boban Marjanovic have all been used in different roles during the first three games. The only substitution pattern that has remained constant is Ish Smith filling in for Jackson at point guard. “It’s taking me time to figure it out,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll just keep going at it every night and trying to learn guys and learn our unit as we go. Hopefully, I’ll make better decisions as time goes on.”
- Tolliver, who signed with the Pistons in July, played a key role in erasing a 21-point deficit Saturday against the Knicks, Langlois writes in a separate story. After sitting out the first two games, Tolliver sparked the comeback with his defense on Kristaps Porzingis. “Here he was inactive the first game, didn’t play last night, gets his first opportunity and is a huge contributor,” Van Gundy said. “That’s just a great, professional effort and that’s why you put somebody like Anthony Tolliver on your roster.”
- Swingman Reggie Bullock will provide even more depth when he returns from a suspension this weekend, according to a piece on MLive. Bullock was sidelined five games for a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He is expected to compete for a rotation spot at small forward.