Detroiters know all too well about undeserving labels. Ask someone outside of Detroit their opinion of the city and the answer isn't going to be pretty. As Detroiters, though, we know the truth and maybe that's the reason we form opinions by what we see instead of what we hear. Marcus Morris came to Detroit via Phoenix over the summer and his reputation followed him every step of the way.
Pistons fans decided, just as they did with Rasheed Wallace before him, and others before Sheed, not to rush to judgment.
Well, seeing is believing....
Morris is one of us.
Fifteen of his 26 points in Friday's overtime win against the Bulls came in the pivotal third quarter as the Pistons eeked back after an ugly first half. Morris' offense came in a variety of ways including fast break, post-ups, midrange and the 3-ball. His versatility on defense helped keep Jimmy Butler in check as the Chicago star shot a very inefficient 5-19 from the field. Morris has "future fan favorite" written all over him. He's rough around the edges but it's the right kind of rough, Detroit rough.
Reggie Jackson scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out seven assists. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter and in overtime, Jackson put his stamp on the game getting to the basket as he pleased. Heading into the season, NBA observers were lukewarm at best toward Jackson. In this young season though, he's learning to lead and win. It hasn't always been pretty, but he's getting the job done.
That's a scary combination and if kept up, and should turn heads....including, perhaps, even John Wall's.
As a whole, the bench continues to yo-yo in production. Steve Blake struggled with his shot and keeping the opposing defense in front of him. Blake finished the night 0-7 shooting but dished out five assists. Stanley Johnson played only 11 minutes and is slowly learning the nuances of the pro game. On several different occasions, the rookie bulled his way to the basket only to see his defender recover and either block his shot or severely disrupt it. The bench hero was Anthony Tolliver as the new dad scored 11 including three triples, one in particular capping off a 7-0 run to start overtime.
Andre Drummond overpowered one of the deepest and most talented front courts in the league. Detroit's big man finished with 20 points, 20 rebounds and a pair of blocks. His maturing process continues as he's still prone to silly and unnecessary fouls. Early in the second, Drummond was hit with his second foul 40 feet away from the basket that sent him to the bench. It's that type of play that will keep Stan Van Gundy up at night. Conversely, Drummond made, arguably, the play of the game in overtime with a dunk that took the wind out of Chicago's sails.
The results of force feeding Andre Drummond in the post continues to land somewhere between mixed and negative as he still looks robotic in movement. Against (mostly) Gasol, he got to the spot he wanted but couldn't connect. Those are good, perfectly acceptable misses. He simply hasn't had enough live game reps to feel comfortable and confident in the post. At times, it can be cringeworthy, but it's extremely important to continue to let Drummond learn the hard way as experience is the best teacher.
Next summer, Drummond is set to be the owner of the largest contract in Pistons history and to stick him with a "put back and dunk only" ceiling would be doing a major disservice to our franchise player. As is, he's often compared to Tyson Chandler or DeAndre Jordan, and if he ends up following their footsteps that's fine as long as we gave him a legit opportunity to prove otherwise. In a league of giants, he's one of the few who could physically impose his will as needed, he's just got to learn how. We know Drummond can dunk but as our franchise player, we (and he) should demand more.
This was an early season test that the Pistons aced. The Bulls came into Auburn Hills 2-0 and are seen as a viable challenger to Cleveland for the East's crown. Not only did the Pistons win but they did it in a way that hasn't been seen around these parts in a long time: they closed the game. They did it too against Utah on Wednesday and just as losing is contagious, so is winning. It's a process that's sure as hell fun to watch. The next part is playing with expectations. They have our attention, now what?
But for now....
Guys, we're 3-0.