The Detroit Pistons bench unit is in shambles, best exemplified by the 43-2 point disparity between the Indiana Pacers reserves and Detroit's. It has been a problem the whole year, despite the Pistons starting 3-1, with Detroit's bench last in the NBA in scoring (14.8) and more than six points worse than the next closest team on the list.
After Tuesday's loss to the Pacers, Stan Van Gundy vowed to rethink the entire bench lineup, and clarified Thursday that he would focus on juggling the rotation so that there is always one or two starters on the floor with some reserves.
SVG says he'll juggle rotation so there aren't stretches without at least 1-2 starters on the floor. #Pistons— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) November 5, 2015
While it might be tempting to think that Reggie Jackson or Andre Drummond could play 48 minutes per game, the clearest path toward fixing these bench issues might be in starting small forward Marcus Morris.
Morris has been lauded so far this season for his ability in the mid-range, and his knack for creating quality looks for himself.
It's not hard to see how that might be useful among the reserves, which features a point guard who can't shoot (Steve Blake), a rookie whose best suited at this stage to be a surprising source of offense and not a focal point of it (Stanley Johnson), a giant question mark at shooting guard (Reggie Bullock) and a new father whose perimeter shot isn't yet stretching the floor (Anthony Tolliver).
While he shouldn't lose his starting spot, Morris should be the first starter to hit the bench, with rookie Johnson taking his place. This would allow Johnson to be the fifth-best offensive player on the floor. With so many other scorers on the floor, the rookie would be able to take advantage of opportunities and not force the action on the offensive end. Van Gundy has also talked to Johnson about focusing less on offense and more on defense and rebounding, and giving him more minutes with the starters would help in this regard.
Once other starters are ready to come out you can stagger the minutes, bringing Morris back out as a focal point of the offense. With Blake and fellow backup Spencer Dinwiddie struggling as facilitators (Dinwiddie's barely been given a shot, granted), running things through Morris makes sense.
Morris is good enough to establish position on the block and either work his way into a quality shot. While he's not LeBron James or anything, if there is no shot available Morris also is a skilled enough passer to find an open cutter or spot-up shooter.
What do you think, DBB? How would you re-design the rotation to get the bench out of its funk and make sure Detroit doesn't punt away too many winnable games while it waits for Brandon Jennings to return?