SVG to Thomas: Don't worry about the roster count, things can change
Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons were reportedly interested in bringing in Adonis Thomas during the 2015 season according to MLive's David Mayo, but the team had a pressing need for a forward with range, resulting in Quincy Miller's pair of ten-day pacts and eventual guaranteed contract. After averaging 19.0 points and 4.9 rebounds on a shooting slash of .430/.373/.857 in 50 games for the Grand Rapids Drive last season, Thomas continued making a case for a training camp invitation during Summer League, where he hit 37.5% of his three pointers on his way to averaging 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds during the Orlando tournament. The swingman signed a two-year, non-guaranteed contract soon after the Summer League ended, and whilst many didn't expect the 22 year old to stick to the team, Stan Van Gundy was the first to reassure the University of Memphis product that he had the same chance of making the opening night roster than the other players he was competing with. Per Mayo:
"The day I signed my contract, he told me, 'Hey, I know you're looking at the roster, at 17 guaranteed guys, and you're the only non-guaranteed guy or partially guaranteed guy.' " Thomas recalled. "He said that anything can change. He said, 'We're looking to make some changes soon. We're not really focused in on who's on the roster right now. We're going to let go of maybe some guaranteed guys, or we're making some changes soon, or trades could be made.' "
Adonis Thomas will likely be competing with Danny Granger, Cartier Martin and Reggie Bullock for the last roster spot. Hoops Rumors' Chuck Myron broke down the dilemma the Pistons find themselves in, with a minimum of two guaranteed contracts to shed prior to the start of the season, adding Spencer Dinwiddie and Darrun Hilliard to the chopping block conversation. The Hoops Rumors writer believes Dinwiddie's roster spot is all but guaranteed after the Steve Blake trade, and his fate is tethered to whether or not Brandon Jennings comes back healthy or not and how the Pistons' front office feels about the sophomore's potential. Myron names Hilliard as the least likely player to be cut, but says his team-friendly contract could work against him.
Darrun Hilliard disappointed in his Summer League performance
Hilliard attempted the second most amount of shots on the team during Summer League, but had trouble finding the bottom of the basket, as he averaged only 9.4 points and 2.6 rebounds on .288/.308/.929 shooting. The Villanova product was unhappy with his overall performance during the offseason tournament, but the Pistons weren't bothered by it, according to Keith Langlois at Pistons.com, as the team saw through the rookie's struggles and saw a player with good ball handling skills, high basketball IQ and good offensive awareness.
"I knew I was going to struggle at some point with the shooting, just because it's a different game - the 3-point line and the ball and just the speed of the game is totally different than college," Hilliard said. "I wasn't too much disappointed with my shooting because that can happen to anybody. But just from an all-around game, I could've played better defense, I could've rebounded the ball better, got out in some passing lanes a little more. But I took that lump and I'm just going to use that as motivation going forward."
Hilliard has been training in his native Pennsylvania as well as in Santa Barbara and Detroit, working on his game with his new teammates and coaching staff. As part of his training in Santa Barbara, the guard was able to take part in the Peak Performance Project, where they use motion capture to detect any type of issues or quirks in how players play the game. This helped the Pistons find some issues with Darrun's footwork, which he had been working on with David Hopla, who has had a lasting impression on the rookie.
"It's kind of crazy. When I was like 8, I was at the Hoop Group camp and I saw that dude make 100 free throws in a row. He can shoot. You see Hop and it's like, man, shooter. You just know that he's a guru of shooting the basketball, so you listen to every single thing he says. His results speak for themselves."
Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower have so far been very happy with their second round pick, and expect to use his offensive flair and shooting touch in games, suggesting the 22 year-old could earn consistent minutes at shooting guard alongside Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks.
Tweet of the Week
Anthony Tolliver (@ATolliver44) August 29, 2015