Stan Van Gundy making mark on Pistons
From bringing the best out of career journeymen to surrounding his young core with established veterans, Stan Van Gundy has done an amazing job of turning around a Detroit team that had toiled in the Association's cellar for the better part of the last six years. The Pistons' locker room is now a place where players can be heard exchanging jokes and where you can see the chemistry building up between teammates. New arrival Tayshaun Prince, who witnessed the dysfunction and buffoonery associated with past Pistons squads, noticed the difference in the team from the onset.
The Pistons' captain, Caron Butler, credits the Pistons' new executive and head coach for the successes the organization has had on, and off the court. Per Pistons.com' Keith Langlois:
"You believe in his track record," Butler said. "Obviously, you believe in him as a person and how passionate he is about it. The disposition he shows up with on a day-to-day basis, from scouting reports to walk-through, he's the same. He's very intense and we've got to follow that. We've got to match that. It's challenging, but that's what you want. That's what you're in this for."
From leading on the floor to managing the team as an executive, Van Gundy has excelled at finding hidden talent, and during the recent NBA trade deadline, he consulted Caron Butler on a decision that has altered the club's dynamic fairly significantly: whether or not to bring in Reggie Jackson. In the same piece by Langlois, Butler opens up on why he believed trading for Reggie was a solid move, one looked in depth by DBB's Steve Hinson.
"I said he'd be a great addition. He's a guy that can get into the paint. He's definitely got, not a star mentality, but superstar potential. He can really help us. He brings a different feel to the court. I saw that with Eric Bledsoe when we were in L.A., same type of thing," he said. "Chris Paul was challenging him night in, night out. Chris Paul, one of the best guards of our generation, and Eric was holding his own, so I knew he would prosper in that Phoenix situation and I see the same thing happening here for Reggie."
SVG was happy to have an endorsement from the veteran, who played with Jackson in Oklahoma for part of the 2014 season, and Butler was likewise happy to have been of help. It is indeed a refreshing feeling to see the Head of Basketball Operations approach players and ask for their advice, even more so to see a coach who holds himself responsible for a team's failures as well as successes. Stan's approach to the team has re-invigorated their play, evident in their newfound love of the game expressed on the court. By empowering his players, Van Gundy is making his mark on the Pistons, and is putting his faith in the ability of his own players, not just himself.
Quincy Miller hoping to stick with Pistons
"Versatile defender, versatile player who can make different plays," Miller describes himself to Keith Langlois. "Here at the four, they utilize it kind of differently. The four is a playmaker. They make plays and (the Pistons) don't really have a specific stretch four who can do both. They have Anthony Tolliver, who can shoot threes, but he's not as good as me, I feel like, at getting to the basket - he's an awesome 3-point shooter, though. It's definitely a great makeup to this roster."
Originally drafted by the Denver Nuggets 38th overall in 2012, he has since bounced around the D-League and earned a call up to the Sacramento Kings earlier in the season, now with the Pistons, the 22-year-old Chicago native is looking to impress Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower. He knows that NBA is a business, and while he would like to make Detroit a permanent fixture for his career, Miller says if he has learned anything since his arrival in the League, it was that nothing is written in stone.
Considered a 'development' player by the Pistons, Quincy's strong play for the Reno Bighorns caught Otis Smith and the Detroit scouting team's eye, and, intrigued by his mix of length and shooting, SVG decided to give the 6-foot-10 forward a shot. Along with new Piston Shawne Williams, Miller is expected to replace Jonas Jerebko's production, but both players could see some time at small forward. Van Gundy has gone on the record to say that Williams' arrival won't affect any decisions regarding Miller, and that the Pistons view the former Heat player as more of a short-term rental, suggesting that Quincy could find himself in Motown next season. The Pistons have almost two weeks to figure out whether or not to keep the former Baylor bigman, but Miller believes that if Detroit were to keep him, he would be a solid addition to the roster.
Spencer Dinwiddie thought he'd been traded at the deadline
Amid the flurry of trades taking place around the NBA over the deadline, rookie point guard Spencer Dinwiddie was scheduled to play two games for the Grand Rapids Drive over the upcoming weekend. Instead, he found himself starting in lieu of a recently traded D.J. Augustin, taking on Derrick Rose and the visiting Chicago Bulls. The seldom-used Dinwiddie shined in his first career start, flirting with a double-double, with 12 points and 9 assists, however, it wasn't what he thought would happen. Per Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press:
"When the trade happened, I still wasn't sure, it was still 50/50 on whether I was going (to OKC) or not, I wasn't sure. They came in and like, Andrew (Loomis, executive director of basketball operations) looked at me and (shook his fingers in front of his throat), and I thought Stan was shipping me off too. So then they just said 'Nah, just Grand Rapids' and I was like, oh okay, cool."
Dinwiddie still looked relieved when he recounted the story to the media, but the emotions with having to deal with his first NBA trade deadline were clear to see as the rookie discussed taking in account advice D.J. Augustin had given him prior to his first career start. Spencer has showed premise in the few games he has played in, and has also proven to be quite raw, but nonetheless, he dazzled in his first game as a starter. Over the course of the season, the California native has averaged 2.7 points and 2.5 assists across 0.8 turnovers, while his shooting still remains a work in progress (28.4% from the field, 13.3% from deep), he has proven he can handle an NBA offense, and that has been enough to earn him backup minutes behind Reggie Jackson. Hopefully, Dinwiddie won't have to suffer through another stressful deadline as he settles into Detroit's point guard rotation.
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