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Pistons have players for high-powered offense but are settling for mid-range looks

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The Pistons are shooting better than they did last year, but still have some work to do.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Van Gundy wants shooters. The more shooters the Detroit Pistons have, the more likely the Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond pick-and-roll will be successful. Well, through six preseason games, the Pistons are shooting better. At least compared to last year. There is still room for improvement though.

Here are some quick and dirty stats, which do not include Wednesday's game.

Year FGA/G FG% 3PA/G 3P% FTA/G FT%
2014-15 Preseason 81.4 43.7 24.4 34.5 29.9 67.5
2014-15 Regular Season 85.8 43.2 24.9 34.4 22.4 70.3
2015-16 Preseason 82.0 45.1 24.3 39.0 24.2 78.6

Percentages are up across the board. That is a great thing. Here's the accompanying shot charts as provided by

2014-15 Preseason

2014-15 Regular Season

2015-16 Preseason

That is a lot of green this preseason as compared to the other two pictures. In the 2014-15 preseason, the Pistons distribution of shots was 44.6 percent around the rim, 29.5 percent from three-point land, and 25.9 percent from everywhere else. In the regular season, the distribution stayed pretty much the same. Detroit shot 48.5 percent around the rim, 28.7 percent from three, and 22.8 percent from everywhere else. Well so far this preseason, those numbers have changed a bit, but not drastically.

The Pistons have added a lot of capable three-point shooters, and they are shooting better from distance, but only 29.1 percent of their shots come from long range. More concerning, however, is that their shots around the rim are down to 43.4 percent. As a result, the Pistons are shooting a whopping 27.6 percent from the loosely defined "mid-range" area. From these areas, they are shooting 40.3 percent. So let's play with the math.

With the Pistons averaging 82 shots per game, that comes out to 35 around the rim, 24 three-pointers, and 23 from everywhere else. Taking their shooting averages for each area, they would get 83 points per game not including free throws. Now, if they were to change their distribution to where it was last season, it would be only about 85 points per game. That is the difference between 1.01 points per shot and 1.04 points per shot. Doesn't seem like a lot, does it? Well it is.

The Golden State Warriors were the best scoring team in the league last year scoring 1.08 points per shot. Bringing up the rear were the Charlotte Hornets at 0.91 points per shot. The Pistons were not much better than the Hornets at 0.97. If you look at the top five teams in the category, you have Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs in that order. The Spurs scored 1.03 points per shot. Those five teams were in the top six last year in shooting percentage from deep, and all of them except the Spurs were in the top seven of how often they shot the three pointer.

For comparison's sake, the Portland Trail Blazers were ninth in the league at 1.01 points per shot and the Cavaliers were fourth at 1.04 points per shot. So changing the shot distribution is highly important to their offense.

The Pistons have a chance to be a powerful offense, but they need to work on their shot distribution. If they could limit their mid-range game (though Marcus Morris is not bad at it) and concentrate on threes and dunks, they could worry less about their defensive issues (though they need to be worked on). They are shooting the free throw better and that will help, but a better shot selection will help more.