After being sidelined all preseason with foot and hamstring injuries, Gigi Datome will attempt to practice Monday. From Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
"If everything is OK, I practice a whole practice," he said. "If not, I’ll step out when my body will tell me. There is no rush. I want to come back at the right moment, for sure as fast as possible, but if you rush this stuff maybe you’re going to become a bigger problem later. So better to listen to my body and wait for the right moment."
In time, Datome's shooting prowess should help him climb the depth chart -- but for the moment, he trails Kyle Singler, Charlie Villanueva and perhaps even Tony Mitchell. All three of those players are capable of hitting the 3-point shot, but not as efficiently as Datome was able to in European play.
If he's healthy and proves capable of getting his shot off, it should be just a matter of time before he becomes a critical cog in Detroit's rotation. That said, Datome has seen enough of NBA-caliber competition to realize he shouldn't rush back:
"In the NBA, I cannot be able to play like 50 percent, 60 percent," he said. "I need all my body 100 percent, so that’s what we’re looking for. Watching from the bench, I can see a lot of athleticism, a lot of very quick players. So you have to be ready to make a quick decision on the court, quick execution. They are the best players in the world."
Even though Datome, 25, has played professionally in Italy since 2003 and earned a Serie A MVP trophy last year, he's still a rookie in the NBA -- and Mo Cheeks sounds like he's going to treat him as such, forcing him to earn his minutes:
"We’ll figure out how to get him minutes in practice," Cheeks said. "We’ll just figure it out and see how he does, how he runs, how he shoots. … You have different guys out there who’ve played, so it would only be right for those guys to continue to play and then, depending on the game and what other guys are doing, he gets a chance. But you’ve got to get out on the court first and see him making shots and doing certain things and go from there."
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