Stanley Johnson developing well within Stan Van Gundy's system\
Since his arrival in Detroit, one of Stanley Johnson's self-set goals was to claim the starting SF position ahead of Marcus Morris. The rookie forward expressed his desire to be part of the starting lineup, as MLive's David Mayo relays, but he was quick to also explain that he'll play whatever role Stan Van Gundy will give him.
"I'm always competing for a starting position," Johnson said. "Since I got here, I've always said that I'm always competing for a starting position. But I'm not going to be the player who comes off the bench and says, 'Aw, I should start.' Thirty minutes is 30 minutes; 35 minutes ... it doesn't matter what minutes you're playing as long as you're still getting your minutes. If I can have starter's production in my bench minutes, I think I'm doing the same thing as starting."
So far this season, the Arizona product is averaging 21.4 minutes per game through 20 contests, effectively making him the team's sixth man, putting up 8.6 points and 3.8 rebounds during that time. He notched his first career double-double against the Houston Rockets and has so far thrived in Stan Van Gundy's offensive and defensive system, as The Oakland Press' Dave Pemberton points out:
"I think playing the staggering minutes that (coach Stan Van Gundy) is, everybody has a good feel for the game. I know especially for me, coming just defense, rebounding and run with the first unit. They're already going so it really helps me out. I get on the positive side of things by doing simple things then once the second quarter hits is usually when I start getting more aggressive because I've been in the game long enough and the second unit is in so I have to be more aggressive. It's really helping us out."
Stanley has been developing very well over the course of the season, and has drawn much praise from the Pistons' front office, with Van Gundy lauding the rookie's defensive ability on more than one occasion. Detroit certainly has a very bright future ahead once Johnson, Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit their prime.
Jennings wants to make a run at Sixth Man of the Year award
Ten months of injury rehabilitation can be a testing time for athletes as they are forced to watch their teammates from the sidelines, unable to partake in the game they've loved since they were little; Brandon Jennings is certainly sick of it. The Pistons floor general is on track for a late December return despite a minor setback giving Detroit fans a scare earlier this week, and Jennings can't wait to start training and playing with his teammates again, per the Detroit News' Rod Beard:
"I am tired of shooting by myself," Jennings said. "I am tired of not playing one on one with anybody."
And he is tired of being patient.
"I am feeling pretty well," Jennings said. "I am more confident. I still have to be patient. That is the main thing. I have been learning patience the whole 10 months."
With more news emerging about the point guard's injury timetable, the point guard opened up and discussed his role with the Pistons and the goals he has set himself for the year. As Beard explains, with so much free time on his hands, Jennings has spent a lot of time on the internet, scouring the basketball blogosphere (Hi Brandon!), but he has so far been unimpressed by what some Piston fans have been saying.
He will be rusty. His ego is too big. He is accustomed to being a starter. That makes Jennings bristle. He sees a young team with potential. He sees a starting unit that is bonding and making things work. The last thing he wants is to disrupt things when he returns to the lineup in three weeks.
"I am not going to mess up the chemistry," Jennings said. "The starters have chemistry and they have been playing well. If I can come off the bench and help out, then why not? Always in my head (I am a starter)," Jennings said. "But sometimes you've got to take the back seat and do what is best for the team. (If I don't start) I want sixth man of the year,"
Anthony Tolliver struggling through contract year
After a decent season with the Pistons last year, Anthony Tolliver was expected to put up similar number for a retooled Detroit outfit, however, the 30 year-old journeyman has struggled out of the gate and has put up some underwhelming numbers behind a pretty poor shooting display. Tolliver, who is the second man off the bench, has a shooting slash of .333/.338/.455 to go along with 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in slightly over 20 minutes per game.
Van Gundy, who has imposed a minute restriction on Ersan Ilyasova, has been leaning on Tolliver as the team's primary backup power forward, but he has been able to produce in the time provided. Marcus Morris and Stanley Johnson have both spent time stretching the floor from the PF position, but the team has yet to play Aron Baynes at the 4 slot for extensive minutes as SVG had hinted about during the offseason. As a whole, the bench has been incredibly inconsistent and responsible for more than one in-game collapse, but with February looming, the team could look to wheel and deal some of their under-performing players and expiring contracts.
Brandon Jennings' name is the one that seems to be ever present within the rumor mill, but don't be surprised to hear the Pistons dangling Tolliver as trade bait, with the former Blue Jay's $3 million contract coming off the books at the end of this season.
Tweet of the Week
Huge D-League debut for @darrunhilliard: 31 points, 11-22, 3-8 3FG, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals in 29 minutes— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) December 5, 2015