Seven years. Eight teams. When Anthony Tolliver was traded to Detroit on Dec. 24, it mustn’t have surprised the career journeyman. What he probably wouldn’t have expected was the situation he would find himself; since his arrival in the Pistons’ gym, Detroit has won 11 of their past 14 and are looking to achieve their first playoff appearance in six years. Playfully attributed to the "Tolliver Effect" within the Pistons’ locker-room, Detroit has surged in the East, and Tolliver has been a large part of their success.
After signing with the Phoenix Suns during the offseason, Tolliver was on the roster bubble from the onset, and ended up being the odd man out in Jeff Hornacek’s rotation – which he is still at a loss to understand. The former Creighton Bluejay felt as though he was never given a fair shake with the Suns. He played in 24 games for them, shooting 38.7% from three, but, with the emergence of PJ Tucker, the Morris twins, and the Suns’ tendency to rely on players creating their own shots, they traded the 6’8" Forward to Detroit for an underachieving and soon to be waived Tony Mitchell. Tolliver noticed the teams’ different dynamics almost immediately, per AZ Central's Paul Coro:
"There is one big difference between the two teams," Tolliver said. "The Suns' system is more geared to playing one-on-one, and that's really not the type of player I am. Here, it is geared more toward ball movement and sharing the ball. I can automatically feel the difference. For a player like me, that's where I have to be to be successful."
Brought in not only for his shooting prowess, but his veteran presence, Tolliver bolsters the front-line as well as Van Gundy’s group of team mentors. Since his arrival in Detroit, Tolliver has averaged 6.3 points and 2.8 rebounds on a shooting line of .448/.349/.667 – whilst his numbers don’t pop off the page, his contribution to the up and coming squad have been real.
Van Gundy has been using Tolliver to complement Joel Anthony, with both players being used in situations where their specific skillsets and energy help the Pistons get back on track. The former Sun is counted on when the Pistons are in need of a three-point threat, whilst the former Celtic is used to infuse some defensive intensity. Both have been more successful with their new team than previous ones, and have lauded Van Gundy’s coaching and the team’s young hungry core, for the Pistons’ successes.
Anthony Tolliver’s trade has helped the Suns land two players who fit better with Hornacek’s offensive structure – Brandan Wright and Reggie Bullock; and although the 29 year-old could easily find grounds to be frustrated with his former team, he holds no ill-will towards them.
"I guess time will tell what happens with them in the future. I'll always thank them for signing me over the summer. I'm also very thankful that they traded me."
We’re also very thankful you were traded to us Anthony, as your arrival in Detroit has overlapped with our recent successes – which you have been a big part of. Hopefully, you end up finding a home in Detroit, and we get to enjoy the "Tolliver Effect" for many more seasons to come.