When the Pistons signed Italian-league MVP Luigi "Gigi" Datome to a two-year deal last summer, the "best outside shooter in Europe" was supposed to help address the Pistons' outside shooting woes. Instead, he was part of the problem, shooting an appalling 18 percent from long distance and not exactly warranting more than the little playing time he received.
2014-15 is a new season, though, and Datome probably didn't completely forget how to shoot a round ball into a red iron cylinder. He was a 42-percent shooter from three in Italy and better than 90 percent from the charity stripe.
He can shoot.
The question is whether or not he'll be able to find his rhythm in the NBA under the Van Gundy regime.
2013-14 Year in Review
After averaging 16.3 points on 52 percent shooting from two and 42 percent from three in an MVP season in Italy, Datome was underused and played more like a least valuable player in his first year in the NBA. In 34 games, he averaged 7 minutes and, as I mentioned above, he shot 18 percent from beyond the arc.
To be fair, though, he was on a terrible team and he was never really given an opportunity to succeed. Sure, he received some minutes, but shooters typically shoot themselves out of slumps with, you know, shots. Datome was given just over one shot from three, his butter spot, per game for a total of 39 on the season. Compare that to Josh Smith who had 40 three-point attempts by the seventh game of the season and, yeah, that doesn't seem right at all.
Coincidentally, the seventh game of the season was Datome's coming out party. Or maybe it should have been. After a DNP, Datome scored 10 in 17 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting (2-of-4 from three) to counter the Golden State Splash Brothers and he was subsequently rewarded with a parched 20 minutes over the next four games. Datome didn't play at least 17 minutes until a month and a half later and never saw more than 15 in a game after that.
In a season in which the Pistons changed coaches, Josh Smith chucked countless undisciplined threes and the team lost 53 games, it might be more accurate to grade Datome's first season in the States as an incomplete. Ignore the results, say a couple Italian Hail Marys, and move along.
2014-15 Projected Production
Datome was one of the few players at Van Gundy's introductory press conference in May, presumably because he was excited and eager to speak to him about Xs and Os for next season, hoping to be a key piece in his system, which is known to value shooters like Datome.
Over the summer, Datome turned down an opportunity to return overseas to play out his contract with the Pistons, acknowledging that rookies tend to struggle in their first season and implicitly showing the aforementioned excitement for the opportunity to play under Van Gundy.
With a year of experience in the NBA under his belt, there's plenty of reason to think that Datome can be the team's biggest X factor many were expecting when he signed last summer. After all, Adidas doesn't sign him to an endorsement deal after last year's performance if they didn't believe it, right? Seriously, though, Datome's previous numbers project him to be a solid NBA player and thus, within a system that values his skills, there's certainly hope he can blossom into a productive player a la Danilo Gallinari or even ex-Van Gundy stud Hedo Turkoglu.
As Shinons* mentioned in his preview of Datome last year, Datome can shoot in a variety of ways -- catch and shoot, pick and roll, and isolation.
See for yourself in the GIFs prepared by Shinons*
Catch and Shoot:
Pick and pop:
You can see more here.
Datome has experience playing the power forward position and it's possible he sees time playing that role if Van Gundy decides to go with a 1-in, 4-out system. Think Ryan Anderson.
I wouldn't necessarily go and put anything in ink on Datome, but I'm genuinely excited to see what he can do under a real coach in a real system with a real purpose. If you weren't excited last summer after he signed, I think it's okay to get those expectations jacked up this year.
16 minutes per game, 7 points, 46 percent from two, 38 percent from three.