Pistons Notes: Fontecchio, Fournier, Draft, Thompson

Simone Fontecchio has made an immediate impact since the Pistons acquired him from Utah at the trade deadline, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The second-year small forward is averaging 15.0 PPG in his first 10 games with Detroit while connecting at 41.5% from three-point range. He has quickly earned the trust of coach Monty Williams, playing the entire fourth quarter Tuesday at Miami while contributing 22 points off the bench.

“I love the way he plays the game,” Williams said. “You talk about the offense, I thought his defense was rock-solid tonight. He doesn’t back away from a matchup. He’s not a guy that we have to worry about keeping in coverage, so he doesn’t have to guard a prime-time guy. He guards everybody. His ability to knock down shots, attack the paint, he’s an efficient passer. He’s been a great asset to our program and somebody we believe in going forward.”

Fontecchio will be a restricted free agent this summer, and Sankofa expects re-signing him to be a priority for a Detroit team that has lacked both shooting and defense. He had 20 points and nine rebounds in his first game with the Pistons, even though he hadn’t been through a practice or shootaround with the team. Williams inserted him into the starting lineup for a while, but moved him back to the bench when Isaiah Stewart returned from an injury and suspension.

“Honestly the more I play, the more I’m happy,” Fontecchio said. “As I said, I’m ready to do whatever to help the team, to help the second unit too. We’ve got a lot of young guys coming in from the second unit. Want to be a leader for them and help them play the right way.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Acquired from New York at the trade deadline, Evan Fournier brings an outsider’s perspective to the Pistons, Sankofa notes in a separate story. The veteran shooting guard said the collection of young talent reminds him of when he started his career in Orlando. “I was in this position my first year with the Magic,” he said. “We were a very young team, very inexperienced. Unfortunately you have to go through that to learn, because winning in this league is extremely hard. And I’m not talking about winning it all. I’m talking about winning one game. It’s extremely hard. Nowadays the level of skill and shooting on the floor is higher than ever, so there’s less room for mistakes.”
  • With no clear No. 1 pick in this year’s class, Sankofa breaks down Detroit’s draft options in an appearance on The Pistons Pulse podcast.
  • Ausar Thompson hasn’t been able to erase the doubts about his outside shooting in his rookie season, observes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. While Thompson’s mid-range offense has become reliable, he’s only shooting 18.3% from long distance. “When it comes to the mid-range shot, it’s my ability to repeat the same shot every time. I get surprised when I miss mid-range shots,” Thompson said. “With threes, I’m getting there. I just have to remain disciplined to shoot the same shot every time. That’s my biggest problem.”
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