To start the Detroit Pistons 2015-16, Keith Langlois had a long chat with Stan Van Gundy about all things Pistons. When I say long chat, I mean six articles worth. Here are the links to all six chats:
SVG Part I: Expanded support staff motivated by Tom Gores' push to make Pistons the best
SVG Part II: Straight shooting from Dave Hopla and the boost Arn Tellem brings the Pistons
SVG Part III: On another year of roster churning and the need for better Pistons D this season
SVG Part IV: Pistons will fill Monroe’s void not by doing what he did, but by doing other things a little more effectively
SVG Part V: Until Jennings’ return, Jackson and a mixed cast will bear brunt of carrying Pistons offense
SVG Part VI: Jackson emerging as Pistons leader with a little help from young and old
They are all great reads if you have the time to read them. However, if you are pressed for time and want a quick overview, here you go.
Van Gundy has been on a hiring spree to expand his executive, coaching and training staffs.
Some notable additions:
- Tom Perrin - Consultant sports psychologist
- Jessica Shaefer - Assistant Athletic Trainer
- Mark Cranston - Certified Athletic Trainer, Physical Therapist, Certified Strength Coach
- Masseuse Team - Luke Fritz, previous massage therapist, is now an outside vendor. Now, four or more masseuses will be used
- Dave Hopla - Shooting coach
Arn Tellem was brought in by Tom Gores, but Van Gundy is sure he'll get some use out of him as well. This, obviously, will be in an effort to make Detroit a free agent destination:
I definitely think the one area is in terms of negotiations. Arn’s expertise is as a negotiator and I think we certainly can utilize him in that way. Exactly what that role is – advisory, in the room, whatever – is something that we’ll talk about. But I think when it gets down to negotiating with our own players, free agents, he’s got great expertise. He knows all the other agents out there, too. He knows the business from their side. So I think there is great value there. And then I think Arn’s been, as an agent, a player advocate for a long, long time. As such, I think Arn has a pretty good feel for players – what’s important to them, what they like, what they don’t like.
While Van Gundy and Jeff Bower have been busy putting together a team that Van Gundy can use (more trades in the last 12 months than the previous five years), he is hoping that the team will be more consistent going forward. He's hoping that he now has a young enough core and the right mix of veterans to have less player turnover going forward.
I think we’re not feeling right now like there’s a big hole in our roster or something we have to do immediately, so we’re in a little better spot there. Now it’s just looking for chances to upgrade and add maybe one more guy – a significant guy – somewhere, whether it’s in the season or next summer. You feel like you’ve got a little more of a foundation going in. We know who we have. We’re always going to be looking until you have the team that’s capable of being a contender, but I don’t anticipate the wholesale changes that we’ve been in for the last year.
The Pistons have quite an athletic and fast team. Van Gundy wants to run, but at the same time, he wants to make sure he doesn't burn Reggie out (let alone anyone else).
I’d like to run more. That’s really one where our coaching staff has gone back and forth for a lot of the fall here, sort of undecided on what pace is going to be best for us. I think there’s a couple of concerns in that Reggie’s going to be expected to do a lot, particularly until Brandon gets back, of having the ball in his hands and creating offense and can he do it for big minutes at that pace – and defend and everything else.
Van Gundy knows that losing Greg Monroe will affect the Pistons both on offense and defense, even calling him the Pistons best defensive low-post player, but will look at the committee to not replace Monroe's numbers, but change how things are done some.
You’re talking about your best low-post scorer, your best low-post defender and your second-best rebounder. So it’s a big loss in terms of your play around the basket and I think we’re not really looking for a person or persons, necessarily, to try to make up for the things that Greg did. It’s going to be trying to be better in some areas to make up for it in total performance. We should be able to play, even in the half-court, a little bit quicker pace. We should be able to get the floor spread out a little bit more. The one thing we did notice last year when Greg went down with the injury is the production of both Reggie and Andre went way up. So as good as Greg was, I think there are ways we can make up for what we’re missing in him, but it won’t necessarily be in those areas.
With all of the new personnel, and with 50 losses in the previous season, there will be aspects of the playbook that will change. However, they kind of have to start from scratch.
But with so many new guys, you sort of start at zero and work your way up...
It’s going to be somewhat different. Not so much just for personnel. Personnel is part of it, but also you see so many different things now with teams playing small. You see a lot more switching, you see a lot more teams trying to go under on pick and rolls. So a lot of it is both sets and things to combat those things, but also really trying to do a better job of drilling principles against certain types of defenses...
For me, 50 losses makes you really go back and say, OK, and I felt like we should have been better. I felt like we’ve got to do our job, I’ve got to do my job, better. So there will be some adjustments. Nothing earth shattering – I’m not smart enough to come up with anything earth shattering. But it will be a little different.
Brandon Jennings is still being looked at as an important piece for this team. However, he will not be rushed back. Until then, Spencer Dinwiddie and Steve Blake will be relied upon to hold down the backup point guard spot.
He won’t start, at least as it stands now, full-fledged five on five – even on a limited basis – until mid-November. But it might still be several weeks before he’s really ready to play after that...What he’s basically doing now is still shooting, strengthening, gradually increasing his activity. We hope by middle to late October he can start doing some drill work, some more realistic basketball stuff and get in and then we hope by mid-November he can start trying to work back to playing. But even from there, you’re talking a fairly lengthy process.
We like Spencer (Dinwiddie) and we think he’s got a chance to be a really good, young player. But we just needed a third guard, anyway, early in the year and wanted to make sure, with as many new guys as we have, that we had a veteran guy who’s been through it and knows what’s going on and can help you through those times.
Last season Caron Butler was looked at to be the leader of the locker room. This year, there are multiple voices that are speaking up, and they're not necessarily veterans: Jackson, Drummond and Stanley Johnson.
I think Reggie is really stepping up. I think Steve’s quiet – he’s a guy who’s going to do it one to one, but I think that he’ll step up. I think Andre desperately wants to be. He really does. He wants to be a leader. For him, it’s just a matter of maturing and learning. But I think we’ve got some really good, veteran role-model type leaders, even if they don’t say a ton with Steve (Blake), with Joel (Anthony), with Anthony Tolliver. I think those guys show the way of what it is to be a professional. I don’t know if we’ll have one overwhelming voice. I think the two guys you sort of notice have those, Reggie’s really trying to be more vocal, and the youngest guy on the team, Stanley, has got a lot of … he’s got a knowledge of what it takes and he’s got a great demeanor about him and I think eventually – obviously, it’s going to take time as a young guy – but I think eventually he’s a guy who’s going to be a great leader.
The center of the team, literally and figuratively, has been putting in work this Summer. So much so, that he is in better shape (no more spare tire, amirite?). His offensive game has expanded some and he's going to have more responsibility put on him with the absence of Monroe.
I think we’ll try to give Andre the ball in some different spots and doing some things...
It’s only my second summer with him, but it was night and day from last summer in terms of the consistency of his work. He was four or five days a week, pretty much all summer long. Wherever he went, we went with him. (Assistant coach) Malik (Allen) and (assistant strength coach) Jordan Sabourin more than anybody, but other people took their turns, too. When Malik couldn’t be there, Aaron Gray did a lot. (Assistant coach) Charles (Klask) went out a little bit. But from the three weeks in Connecticut when he was going to school and they were there to coming back here to going six weeks in Santa Barbara, yeah, he worked hard and guys worked hard with him. And it was a productive summer for him. He’s coming back in a lot better shape than he did a year ago and I think he’s worked more and so that’s got to add a confidence thing...
I would think they (Andre's minutes) would go up some and I think that’s a good thing for him in terms of his development. He’ll have to play through some situations that he didn’t have to play through for his first few years in the league, so I think that’ll be good for him. And hopefully he grows into a more consistent guy that you can count on from night to night.
Again, I urge you to read all six articles if you have the time. The first time we'll see the Pistons in any kind of action is on Oct. 6 when the Preseason starts. Can the Pistons embody their new campaign? Until then, busy yourself with their media day and keeping up with the opening of training camp which begins this week. It's about to be on!