The Pistons have been focused on returning to the playoffs after bringing in Dwane Casey as head coach and banking on a clean bill of health for players such as Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin. With Casey, the Pistons are getting a head coach that is focused on ball movement and off-ball actions in hopes of revitalizing the team’s offense, which ranked just 19th in the league last season.
As Keith Langlois writes for the Pistons’ website, such a focus on diversifying the offense may lead to someone other than Jackson leading the team in assists, which Casey is comfortable with. Casey even went further to express his desire for a player such as Griffin to lead the team in assists: “That’ll free Reggie up to get off of the ball, to move without the ball a little bit more. That means other players are cutting, moving, and we’ll be harder to figure out and predict and scout.”
Griffin is one of the better passers in the frontcourt, as he averaged 6.2 APG in his 25 games with the Pistons last season. Jackson has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, as he has played in a combined 97 games in the past two seasons.
Casey is also focused on implementing a more modern offense in Detroit, with an emphasis on playing at a faster pace and eliminating shots from the mid-range. So far, the result have been promising — 159 of the 173 total Pistons’ shots have either come from beyond the 3-point arc or inside the paint in their first two preseason games. A more modern offense that is heavy on ball movement and diverse playmaking could be the key ingredient for the club to return to the playoffs this season.
There’s more from the Central division:
- Speaking of Casey, another difference that Pistons players have been getting used to is his calm demeanor on the sidelines. As Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press, the players have enjoyed Casey’s positive approach and the fact that he doesn’t direct outrage or disappointment on one player. For a team that is returning a large portion of the same roster, the change at coach may prove to make the largest difference this season.
- Early returns for Brook Lopez‘s fit with the Bucks have been promising, as Jim Hoehn points out for The Associated Press. Lopez will provide a vast majority of his value on the perimeter as a floor-spacer to draw defenders away from the paint as Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to attack the rim. With the Bucks also adding Ersan Ilyasova and coach Mike Budenholzer, they are also looking to modernize their offense and become a true contender in the conference.
- As he continues to build on a much-improved sophomore campaign in the league, Kris Dunn has impressed the Bulls (and specifically coach Fred Hoiberg) with his leadership. As Joe Cowley writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, Dunn’s solid play on the floor and control of the offense in preseason has been a bright spot for a Bulls team that is dealing with injuries and inconsistent defensive play.