The Detroit Pistons are 4-7, which isn't very good but also isn't very far from where many of us expected they'd be. And to be fair, the Pistons have faced the seventh-most difficult schedule in the NBA thus far, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
That said, this team has problems. And while some of them are complex, difficult problems with a lot of moving parts (looking at you, team defense), some of the problems might go away with an increased sample size combined with a select few players making better decisions. I'd categorize the team's awful 3-point shooting as the latter.
How bad have the Pistons been from 3-point land? The worst in the league. And before you start pointing fingers at Josh Smith (29.5 percent) and Brandon Jennings (33.3 percent), understand that they're (marginally) doing better than the team's combined mark of 28.8 percent.
Here's the team as a whole (click the column headers to sort):
Almost all of the guys fans should want taking the most 3-pointers have been absolutely horrible: Singler, Datome and KCP have combined to hit just 15 of 70 attempts, or 21 percent. For context, Singler hit 35 percent as a rookie, Datome hit 42 percent his final year in Europe and KCP hit 37 percent his last year in college. Theoretically, those three will come around.
(By the same token, Stuckey and Bynum will theoretically cool to their career marks, but let's focus on the positives, OK? Plus, those two shouldn't be taking many 3-pointers in the first place.)
But is it simply a matter of waiting for shots to drop? Or can Detroit's shooters do more to speed the process? A couple of quotes from Josh Smith following Detroit's collapse in Los Angeles last weekend stuck in my head. From MLive.com's David Mayo:
"When I prepare for a game, it starts during shootaround," Smith said after the Pistons let a six-point halftime lead get away. "And I think everybody needs to have that same mentality."
[...] "Body language kind of got discombobulated a little bit when the team (Lakers) started making shots," Smith said.
SHOTS FIRED! Or not. I don't know. It's impossible to read into what he was saying, whether he was trying to call out his teammates, whether he was trying to defend his own preparation, or whether it was just a throwaway line that didn't mean anything.
But that quote combined with this article earlier this month from SB Nation's James Herbert about how Ray Allen, James Jones and Roger Mason, Jr. prepare for games with the Heat got me thinking:
Allen used to take taxis to the arena on the road. When he joined the Heat last season, he found Jones and Mike Miller doing the same thing.
"When we first got together we asked ourselves, ‘So, who is going to get the floor first?'" Allen said. "I told them I'd welcome guys shooting with me.
"For 10 years in my career I hadn't had anybody that really wanted to come out early and shoot. I welcomed it, I looked forward to it."
It soon became clear cabs wouldn't cut it.
"When Ray came, we needed more coaches, we needed more support, the trainers started coming over early," Jones said. "So they got us a bus."
They call it the shooters' bus. With Miller now in Memphis, Mason stepped right in this season. [...] "Even before I decided to sign here, Ray thought I'd be a great fit," Mason said. "There is a little bit of a shooting clique."
Man, I want a shooter's bus! I want a shooter's clique!
If the Pistons' shooters aren't making shots, why aren't they doing this? The front office and coaching staff are obviously all-in with this weird, jumbo-sized frontcourt -- and those big dudes are carrying their load on the offensive end: the Pistons lead the league in points in the paint and rank seventh in two-point field-goal percentage.
But in order for the offense to truly hum, the outside shooters need to start making their shots. And while we'll always be prisoners to sample size and luck and the basketball gods putting a lid on the basket for long stretches, one thing those shooters can always do is prepare like champions.
Now, time for one big caveat: maybe they already are. It's been a few years now since I last made the trek to the Palace to cover a home game, and I don't know any of the pregame habits or routines for any of the current players. But if they aren't ... it's time for someone to get in their ear about doing so.
Now your thoughts.