The Detroit Pistons desperately needed a bounce-back game following their disappointing loss against the Brooklyn Nets just three days prior. Two players particularly needed to drink some of Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff to ease the collective heart rate of anxious Pistons fans, namely Andre Drummond and Stanley Johnson.
The chatter leading up Saturday’s contest was mostly negative surrounding both players; Dre’s not a leader, Stanley’s lost his mojo. Drummond was coming off his worst performance of the season which included a benching by Stan Van Gundy due to lack of effort. And so far this season, Johnson has legitimately looked like one of the Monstars have taken his basketball powers, leaving him lost on the floor, coming into the game shooting 2/16 on the season. The criticisms on Johnson have been loud, although not always particularly fair, but that’s a completely different article.
Just in time, the unproven (albeit young and exciting) Denver Nuggets made their way to the Palace to meet a Pistons team that had some pent up frustration to take out on someone, something, or in this case a certain team in light blue jerseys.
Right off the jump Drummond looked to assert himself on both sides of the floor. He was disruptive on defense, showing flashes of the defensive juggernaut we’re all hoping he’ll become, and was dominant on offense. Nothing in the paint was coming easy for the Nuggets when Drummond was around. He finished the game with 3 blocks, but more importantly altered shots, forcing Denver to continuously pass out of the lane once they encountered the Penguin.
He posted a Defensive Diff% of -5.9% on field goals attempted less than 10 feet from the hoop, and -3.9% on all two point field goal attempts. The NBA defines the Defensive Diff% as “the difference between the normal field goal percentage of a shooter throughout the season and the field goal percentage when the defensive player is guarding the shooter”.
Offensively speaking, can we all give a double clap for Drummond’s free throws? He shot 7/11 from the charity stripe, good for just under 64%. His stroke looked good, his rhythm... steady, now PLEASE keep this consistency up. He shot an efficient 6/10 from the floor, hitting baby hooks and throwing down jams, including this little gem.
The other elephant in the room sporting a Detroit Chrome jersey was of course, Stanley Johnson. Johnson was due for a breakout game, and breakout he did. No he didn’t have a 30 point, 10 assist game, but at this point any improvement was welcome.
At the half it appeared that Johnson was once again going to be a shadow on the floor, as he was unable to capitalize on limited playing time, mainly standing still beyond the three point arc, hoping the ball would swing his way. It didn’t. In the second half Johnson was able to hit a couple of pull up jumpers and a three off the dribble. It was a sight for sore eyes, as he finished the game with 12 points on 5/7 shooting in 19 minutes.
Sometimes you just need one good game to remember your capabilities, to get your mojo back. Let’s hope that Saturday’s game is that game for Stanley, so that he’ll be able to turn the page and become the reliable sixth man that we all remember from the playoffs. For now the Curious Case of Stanley Johnson has yet to be closed, but I have faith that he’ll continue to grow from this point forward completely bouncing back from a small skid in the road.
Now DBB, I turn it to you, what did you take away from the game, from any player not named Stanley Johnson and Andre Drummond?