Stan Van Gundy happy with Stanley Johnson's development
Justise who? If Stanley Johnson's performances against the Miami Heat guard weren't already enough to prove that Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower made the right decision to select the Arizona product eighth overall in 2015, then his development and level of play should definitely be gaining him many fans around the League. Whilst the rookie has been struggling from the field (38% FG; 32% 3P), his energy, hustle and defense have been keeping him on the court.
Van Gundy recently told the assembled media (H/T Hoops Rumors' Dana Gaurader) during Monday's media conference that he was very pleased with how Johnson has been developing, and that even though the rook was having some expected troubles on the offensive end, he will still be logging major minutes with the second unit.
"I'd certainly like to see him shoot the ball better," Van Gundy said. "I know he'd like to shoot the ball better but it's not something I worry a whole lot about."
You can only expect Johnson's shooting to get better as he grows more accustomed to the NBA's pace and talent level, but his high defensive ability has definitely been a welcome surprise, and bodes well for the future as he and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could become one of the Association's best wing defending duos. So far this season, Johnson and Pope are averaging a combined 2.6 steals per game per 36 (1.1 and 1.5, respectively). When you consider that the rookie is also putting up 13.6 points 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per 36, the potential is readily available to see.
Team veterans making an impression on younger players
Anthony Tolliver, Joel Anthony, Caron Butler, Steve Blake... Stan Van Gundy made it clear that any veteran he would bring onto the team would prove to be a good role model, locker-room presence and mentors. Butler earned the title of team captain whilst with the team last season, and gave Brandon Jennings some much needed advice and support on the sidelines. Joel Anthony's professionalism impressed his teammates on more than one occasion. Van Gundy most definitely knows how to surround his young core of players with reliable vets, and if you still didn't believe that, Pistons.com's Keith Langlois outlines yet another great story originating from Detroit's bench.
Rookie Darrun Hilliard, who has been riding the pine in Motown after several eye-opening performances in the D-League has learned almost as much from sitting on the bench as he has playing on the NBA hardwood. Whilst it can be easy for a young, promising player who doesn't get minutes to get down on himself, Hilliard has looked at his older teammates for wisdom, and found some in the actions of none other than the Pistons' third-string center Joel Anthony.
"Joel, he's sitting out. He's not really playing a lot. And when I'm in there working out, he's right there, too," Hilliard said of Anthony, 33 and a nine-year NBA veteran who played on two Miami Heat NBA title teams.
"He motivates me. He won an NBA championship, man, and he's not really playing much. That's just how it is. And if he can do that, then there ain't no freakin' way a rookie can't do that. You've just got to prepare, be ready, stay ready and prepared for it and just be grateful. Joel was grateful for his situation, being in the league, and he prepared for his opportunity and he made the most of it. Coach has confidence in him to come in at any time. It was great to see."
After a solid season as Drummond's backup last year, Anthony was replaced on the depth chart by Aron Baynes, who has been putting up solid numbers in the second unit. The Canadian bigman has on more than one occasion expressed his happiness at having any role with the team, with the team's coaches raving about the amount of time he spends in the gym and on the practice floor. His humility and team-first mentality has certainly rubbed off on other players, and that is definitely a good thing.
Grand Rapids standout Lorenzo Brown earns call-up
After one solid season in Grand Rapids last season, Lorenzo Brown got a call up to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he ended the season. A couple Pistons fans were annoyed at the loss of a D-League affiliated player of Brown's caliber, especially after fellow teammate Robert Covington was picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers that same season; the Drive proving to be a talent pool for other team's needs. Brown wasn't retained by the 'Wolves, returning to play for Otis Smith and the Drive, where he continued his stellar play. The guard featured in Ridiculous Upside's Player of the Week Award after averaging 15.3 points 11.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds during that time.
His play didn't go unnoticed for long, with the Phoenix Suns deciding to give the young gun a go, signing Brown to a 10-day pact according to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania. The 25-year-old floor general will fill in one of the roster spots freed up by the Suns waiving of Bryce Cotton and Cory Jefferson, as Hoops Rumors' Chuck Myron explains. Keep an eye out for the North Carolina State product; this isn't the last time you'll hear of him.
Tweet of the Week
Good news! Reggie Jackson only 80k votes behind Jeremy Lin! https://t.co/1LuxAOkII5— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) January 7, 2016