Offseason additions mean more pressure on Jodie Meeks
Jodie Meeks was Stan Van Gundy's flashiest free-agent acquisition a summer ago, but a back injury suffered during preseason limited him to 60 games in which he produced one of his worst shooting seasons of his career. A year later and the Pistons have had another productive offseason, strengthening areas of weakness and consolidating positions of strength, with multiple additions hopefully translating into playoff contention. Detroit's roster count currently stands at 18, with Adonis Thomas, Danny Granger, Reggie Bullock and Cartier Martin fighting for the last roster spot, but there will be another training camp competition to keep an eye on with Jodie Meeks going up against last year's primary shooting guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, two rookies, Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard, and potentially whoever wins out in the fight for the final roster spot.
Furthermore, Pistons.com's Keith Langlois expects Marcus Morris to log as many minutes as KCP during the upcoming season, with Stanley Johnson picking up the remaining minutes at either position. Meeks' position in the rotation seems in doubt with the team's latest acquisitions, and he needs to prove his worth to the coach who brought him in on a 3-year, $18 million contract last year. The former Kentucky Wildcat shot a dismal 24.4% from deep in February in 2015, but bounced back in the following months, showing flashes of his former self, knocking down 40.9% of his triples after the All-Star break (compared to 30.6% prior to the break). His inconsistency and surprising inability to convert the three, though, made many question whether his back injury was still nagging him or whether his late start to the season affected his game.
Meeks certainly didn't lose his shooting stroke, evident in his 90.6% free throw percentage, but seemed incapable of finding the rim from deep. The fact that his shooting improved across the board during the tail end of the season should be a big positive for Pistons fans to take away from the 27-year-old's season. Add the hiring of shooting coach David Hopla to the coaching staff and there are many reasons to be excited to see how Meeks produces this year, but the road to minutes will be lengthy and potentially difficult, as the six-year veteran looks to beat out a group of promising young guns.
Stanley Johnson slowly gaining League-wide interest after successful Summer League
Being told you're not as good as Justise Winslow, that the Pistons reached to pick you eighth overall, and that your game doesn't fit with what Detroit is trying to achieve must definitely motivate you to prove doubters wrong, so when you beat the player pundits claim to be superior than you in every single category during Summer League, save for two (personal fouls and FT%), it must feel quite good. Stanley Johnson had an exceptional Summer League, putting up 16.2 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and a shooting slash of .577/.417/.593 in 27.4 minutes. Justise Winslow averaged 9.0 points 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists, shooting .338/.312/.850 in 20 minutes per game.
Stanley's performance certainly quieted many detractors, and slowly but surely, the Arizona product is seeing his name mentioned in multiple conversations around the League. One of them, covered by Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, dubs the Piston wing as one of the rookies to look out for during the upcoming season. Wasserman's article is worth a read, as he puts forward a case breaking down why Stanley Johnson has the tools to make an impact on the League from the onset of his rookie season. Here are a few extracts:
Johnson's five-game run in Orlando was simply too convincing to ignore. He aced the eye test. You got the impression Johnson was a pro among amateurs, as well as a player Detroit could immediately use on its underwhelming wing.
Johnson's sales pitch ultimately starts with his body and strength for the small forward position. While the physical transition is often a big challenge for one-and-done freshmen, it doesn't appear like it's going to bother Johnson, whose diesel 245-pound frame already stands out among projected starting wings.
At this stage, Johnson's set of physical tools represent his signature asset. However, no aspect of his game is more overlooked than his in-between scoring repertoire, which continues to develop and consequently raise his ceiling.
You can read more on how Stanley Johnson is poised to become this NBA season's surprise rookie here.
Where are they now? Pistons' NBA Free Agents Edition
Greg Monroe: Agreed to a 3-year, $52 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks (player option on the third year)
Reggie Jackson: Re-upped with Detroit to the tune of 5-years, $80 million
Tayshaun Prince: Joined Flip Saunders and Arnie Kander in Minnesota on a one year, veteran's minimum deal.
Joel Anthony: Came back to Motown on a two-year, $5 million contract (team option on the second year)
John Lucas III: Free agent linked to the Clippers, Spurs, Mavericks, Magic and Pistons
Cartier Martin: Activated his $1.4 million player option for the 2016 season
Kyle Singler: Returned to Oklahoma City on a five-year, $25 million deal (fifth year a team option)
Jonas Jerebko: Agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract to stay in Boston (second year non-guaranteed)
Luigi Datome: The Italian sharpshooter
is linked to overseas club CSKA Moscow has signed with Turkish club Fenerbahce
Caron Butler: Signed a two-year, $3 million pact with Sacramento (Player option on the second year)
Shawne Williams: Cavaliers have shown interest, still a free agent
Tweet of the Week
20 back to back games ..... No national televised games..... Cool— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummondd) August 12, 2015