Austin Daye has a crowded depth chart to fight through to earn significant playing time in 2010-11. Like the Pistons other young wings, Daye's on-court development hinges mostly on trades or injuries, especially thanks to the recent acquisition of Tracy McGrady. When burn becomes available, expect Daye to seize it-- his busy off-season, high ceiling and long contract should make him a priority asset in Detroit.
Stick around after the jump, as Kevin, Packey and myself take a look at what fans can expect from Austin Daye in 2010-11.
Brian Packey: As it has been noted by all the astute DBB'ers before, Austin Daye is the epitome of a player that is long, smooth, and can stroke it. He's 6-foot-11,
-has the smoothest baby face and has one of the smoothest looking strokes I've seen in a Pistons uniform since, uh, Rip Hamilton (Daye had the highest TS% on the team last year). But for the third preview in a row, I find myself only wanting to talk about the arrival of Tracy McGrady as a potential hindrance on Daye seeing the consistent minutes he may or may not deserve.
If you want to know what Daye has been doing this offseason to get better, you better read this. It's a first-person account, but supposedly he's been in Vegas all summer double-downing on his work outs and film sessions with his former-NBA playing father. The proof is in the Cosby pudding pops (and let's hope he ate a lot of those this summer because his fragile frame was obviously one of the bigger concerns), but if you're to believe Daye's summer diary, it seems like he'll be ready to come into camp and compete for a heavy dosage of minutes this season.
As I mentioned before, though, Daye is competing with yet another wing this season and one that has already established a name for himself in the League. We still don't know what kind of minutes McGrady will get, but it doesn't seem like he'll be a practice All-Star getting everybody else ready for game minutes. Yes, McGrady will steal minutes from Daye and that's a concern, but if Daye is ready to step his game up a level, then he'll earn some of those minutes back. If we see the Daye who averaged 5 ppg and 2 rpg in 13-plus minutes last year, he won't really deserve any more minutes. He showed flashes of competency, but for the most part he seemed to be doing more sleep walking than Daye Walking when he was on the floor, couldn't stick with his man and wasn't nearly good enough from downtown. That's to be expected for most rookies, though.
Do I think the Daye-man will cometh? I think he has a lot of potential, and we'll certainly see improvements, but I don't think we'll see too much more out of him this season. And I think that's okay -- this isn't as much of a make-or-break season for him in a Pistons uniform as it is for, say, DaJuan Summers or, hey, Rodney Stuckey.
Kevin Sawyer: When the Pistons selected Austin Daye in the 2009 draft, I was optimistic. I remain so. More than any other player, Daye has the potential to turn this team around.
Daye's game is unique in that he has the height of a power forward, the offensive game of a wing, and the body of, well, Tayshaun Prince. The latter is crucial to his value. As a three, he creates matchup problems, as a four, he becomes one. He's not a big who cannot guard bigs; he is a wing who happens to be big.
Daye's overall numbers from last season weren't terribly impressive, but they did improve throughout the season, and he certainly looked good on the court. He demonstrated the ability to use his size to get the shot he wanted, and he wasn't lost on defense as you might expect from a rookie learning a couple of new positions.
His college numbers indicate that he will eventually become a deep threat, which should allow him to work the baseline with ease. If he can become a legitimate threat from the corner and create his own shots, he'll really open the floor for the second unit, especially Ben Gordon.
Daye looked great during the first half of summer league, but that should be taken with a grain of salt. Suffices to say he won't be seeing any 6'2" defenders in the NBA. More troubling, he became hobbled, raising questions as to whether his body can accommodate the extra weight he needs to put on.
Still there are good reasons to be optimistic about his career. With Prince's contract to set to expire, his arrival couldn't come at a better time.
Mike Payne: There's a lot of room for optimism about Austin Daye. He's got the height and the stroke to be deadly on the offensive end and the length to be a pest on the opposite. But he's too frail, he's afraid of contact, he's immature and exhibits poor decision making. Fortunately for Pistons fans, Daye has spent a long summer focusing on each and every one of those criticisms, and he's entering training camp as a new man.
The 190 pound kid who was drafted last year is now 208 and showing tone. The kid who shied away from contact at Gonzaga spent Summer League taking the ball straight at his defenders. The kid who made poor decisions and didn't use his size effectively has been watching tape and studying precisely that. When you spend your entire summer tirelessly ironing out these weaknesses, that shows a serious growth in maturity. In short, our little boy is all growns up.
He's grown up, but he'll need another year to show that he can bring his talents to the starting lineup. Fortunately for him, he'll be spending much of that year learning from one of the greatest small forwards of the last decade. The most exciting season for Daye fans isn't likely to be 2010-11, but the season following-- as Daye is currently the only one of our five small forwards not expiring next summer.
For now, what can Pistons fans expect out of young Austin in the year ahead? Even with the glut of 2-guards and small forwards, Daye has the skill set to carve out some playing time by sheer necessity. You can expect his 3-point shooting numbers to improve this season, and he may find time as a spot up three point shooter. Should a trade or injury happen, Austin should see greater playing time and a chance to improve on his decent rookie numbers. If Daye can make strides this year despite the cluttered roster, he may become the most exciting Piston to talk about by this time next year.