Somewhat lost in the aftermath of the Pistons' frustrating 99-91 loss to the Pacers on Tuesday night was Gigi Datome's arrival in the rotation. But instead of playing his natural position of small forward, he spent much of his 12 minutes of action at power forward, guarding Indiana's Luis Scola. Despite being undersized, Datome is up for the challenge. From Vinnie Goodwill of the Detroit News:
"Last practice I tried a bit of it," Datome said. "If Coach asks me, I don’t have any problem playing power forward. I’ll help the team in any way he asks me to. I like to play physical, to fight."
"Coach Mo knows me and put me on Scola," Datome said. "I will try to do everything the coach will ask me. I like to play physical, to fight. Scola is bigger than me, but for sure I have the advantage on the other side of the basketball. I would say I’m sure that I will suffer (in) something, but I can also take advantage of something at that position."
The decision to put Datome on Scola was stategic -- as Goodwill notes, the Pistons noticed on tape that Scola was slow to rotate defensively, helping give Datome some open shots. Granted, Datome missed all four of his 3-pointers (and shot 1-for-3 from 2-point land), but they were good looks, and exactly the type of shots he hopes to see in the future. From MLive.com's Brendan Savage:
"There were open shots," Datome said. "I've got to make it. I would pay to every night have those kinds of shots. I'm not worried. I'm a shooter. That's why I'm here. Just have to keep on playing basketball and take what the game will give to me and not be looking for a shot or looking for points.
"My teammates looked for me from the beginning and I have to say think you to them. I try to do what the team and the particular moment will leave for me. I have to understand very quickly how I can contribute for the team.
"There were open shots so I've got to take it. I hope for sure they're going to go in the next time."
Datome isn't just dealing with a bit of rust (remember, Tuesday was his first game since EuroBasket in September), he's also seeing the game played at NBA speed for the very first time. That's a steep leaning curve to navigate in 12 minutes, especially for a guy who missed the entire preseason. From MLive.com:
"I was so excited to be here. For sure I prefer to do all the preseason. That could help me a lot to take comfort ... with the speed and athleticism that I found yesterday. But it's something that happens. Injuries are part of the game.
"I tried to work to be on the court as soon as possible. Now I'm healthy. I'm fine."
But even though Datome missed six of seven shots, it's worth pointing out he was on the floor when the Pistons made their charge against Indiana, finishing the game with a +18 in the plus/minus column to go along with three rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Datome may not have the frame of a traditional power forward -- he's officially listed at 6-8, 215 pounds -- but he should be able to make an impact in select situations, especially when he's playing with Andre Drummond behind him, who can help cover a lot of defensive mistakes.
Do you think Datome deserves to see spot duty at the four? Now your thoughts.