Central Notes: Ellington, Cavs, Middleton, Pistons

Wayne Ellington has seen significant minutes since joining the Pistons, a stark contrast from his previous situation with the Heat. Miami traded him to Phoenix on February 7, with both sides then reaching a buyout to allow him to enter free agency and sign with Detroit.

Ellington has averaged 28.5 minutes in his first four games with his new team, including a 33-minute contest against Boston before All-Star Weekend.

“Wayne showed in his minutes against Boston that he’s picked up things pretty quickly,” head coach Dwane Casey said, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Ellington has started in the last two games for the Pistons — including the team’s 119-96 victory over the Heat on Saturday — proving his worth as a valuable shooting guard capable of spreading the floor around Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and others.

Ellington spent much of the All-Star break studying plays and prepping for his ascension to the starting five, according to Beard. It’s possible that he remains in this role for an extended time, with the Pistons currently fighting for a playoff berth alongside Brooklyn, Charlotte, Orlando, Miami and Washington.

There’s more out of the Central Division today:

  • The Cavaliers are not interested in tanking and plan to play at a playoff pace the rest of the season, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes“With everybody coming back and guys really coming into their own — myself, Cedi (Osman), Collin (Sexton) has been playing great — I would like to see us, if you start the season today, I would like to see us in the playoffs,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “Look, I know we’re not going to make the playoffs. I know that. I’m talking about finishing top eight in the conference just over the final 23 games.” Despite his honesty, Nance Jr. recognized the importance of continuing to play with a competitive fire until the season ends.
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN.com details the game of Bucks guard Khris Middleton, a rare kind of second star who’s expected to reach free agency this July. Middleton, an NBA All-Star, has averaged 17.3 points on 38% shooting from 3-point range with the team this season. “It’s amazing how Khris has grown,” teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “As a team, we have clicked. It is something special.”
  • Pistons center Andre Drummond still has plenty of room to improve, Rod Beard writes in his mailbag for The Detroit News. Drummond, 25, makes up a talented Detroit frontcourt alongside Blake Griffin. Beard also discussed the role of Svi Mykhailiuk, whether the team can build a successful roster around Griffin, and more.
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