After two bad losses in two nights, which capped three losses in the last four (very winnable) games, the Detroit Pistons had an airing of grievances in a team meeting Saturday night. The dreaded “Players-Only Meeting” can cause a lot of consternation among fans, so we asked the DBB staff to give their thoughts on the why and the what of it all.
1. The Pistons had a team meeting Saturday to talk about the lack of ball movement and shots on offense translating into a lack of effort on D. Which player can we attribute the lack of ball movement to?
Justin Lambregtse: I think everybody on this team has played some role in the lack of ball movement, but if I had to pick one player it would be Reggie Jackson. The offense has been pretty stagnant for the most part since he has come back, and there is only so much I can blame on the knee injury.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): It’s difficult to pinpoint fault, but the lack of ball movement seems to be more scheme related than any singular player. There is a lack of creativity on offense and in turn a lack of production. Basically, the Pistons' skill set doesn't fit the offensive identity they're trying to force.
Steve Hinson: To be honest, I'm not worried about who isn't distributing the ball well enough. I'm worried about the player who pouts because they're not getting enough shots rather than playing defense.
Ben Gulker: Reggie Jackson is taking 26 shots per 100 possessions. The next closest player is Tobias at 20. No one else on the roster even gets to 20.
Yes, Reggie deserves to be cut a little bit of slack, but the offensive woes begin with him right now. He's simply shooting too poorly and shooting far too much. His shooting percentage and assist rate are both way down from a year ago. That's a bad combination from your starting PG.
Jamie Delaney: I would say every starter except for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who's still dishing out more assists than expected. I think it's a combination of Reggie trying to play his way back to 100 percent, Drummond pressing when he's getting post ups, and Tobias and Marcus Morris just having an isolation-heavy skillset. It's a perfect storm for bad ball movement.
Lazarus Jackson: We can place a lot of the blame on Tobias Harris' feet. He's never been a great ball mover, but he's usually made enough shots to counterbalance this. He's never been a great defender or rebounder, but he's worked on being pliable enough to let the Pistons switch 2 through 4. Since Reggie's return, Tobias is shooting 43 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three, his D has slipped, and he's averaging his usual 1.6 assists.
Christopher Daniels: I'd have to say Reggie is the main culprit. Just my opinion, but his general attitude seems to scream "I'm going to get mine.” Not what you look for in a PG.
2. After the players-only meeting, Stan Van Gundy hinted at incoming changes to the starting lineup. What, if any, changes would you like to see to the starting lineup?
Justin Lambregtse: I've seen it suggested by people that we replace Reggie Jackson with Ish Smith. I don't think we need to do something that drastic, but I would say put in Jon Leuer for Tobias Harris. I think Tobias' ability to create his own offense would be useful off the bench and I think Marcus Morris is a better shooter which will fit better in the starting lineup.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): Any changes that don't include Jon Leuer in the starting lineup would be making a move just to make a move.
Steve Hinson: Jon Leuer would be the obvious candidate, but I feel like scoring on the second unit is a problem. I kind of like Stanley Johnson having less scoring responsibility by stepping into the starting unit, and Morris being able to help carry that bench scoring a bit more.
Ben Gulker: I don't think the starting lineup is the issue, necessarily. The issue is that our least effective offensive option (at the moment) is taking far more shots than the other more efficient options, and he's assisting teammates at a lower rate than he ever has as a Piston.
That simply has to change. If the least effective offensive option is taking more shots than anyone else, the offense is going to struggle, full stop.
That said, if the lineup does gets changed, Reggie should move to the bench.
Jamie Delaney: Unless Stan is prepared to run Leuer 30+ minutes, I don't see him being moved to the starting lineup. I think Stan threw Reggie into the starting five quicker than he should have. The starters had just adjusted to Ish's pace and pass first mentality, then it was abandoned. I think you get Reggie sixth man minutes, let him continue getting comfortable and stagger him in slowly with the starters.
Lazarus Jackson: Moving Jon Leuer to the starting lineup is the obvious thought, but I've maintained that taking Leuer's production away from the bench hurts them more than it helps the starting lineup. Sending Tobias (more likely) or Marcus (less likely) to the bench only transfers the issues with shot creation and rebounding to the bench instead of the starters. I'm hoping SVG is just leveraging this "threat" more to motivate the starters than anything else.
Christopher Daniels: If Stan really wants to shake things up he could move Ish back as a starter, but Stan's comments seem to suggest he doesn't see Reggie as the main problem. Leuer for Morris seems like the obvious move, but it’s hard to motivate a player less than demoting Morris after he had the cojones to speak up. My wonder is if SVG could actually shake up the starting lineup through a surprise trade.
3. According to reports, Aron Baynes instigated the players-only meeting, and Marcus Morris did the bulk of the talking. Should it be concerning that the guys calling out other teammates are the backup center and the starter making the least amount of money?
Justin Lambregtse: Obviously, I would prefer that it be the "stars" of this team, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, calling for this meeting and doing the talking. However, it doesn't really matter to me he is doing the talking and leading as long as it is somebody. Why not have that somebody be two of the older players who actually get meaningful minutes.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): It makes things a lot easier when the best players on the team are the vocal leaders as well, but it's not a necessity. However, wasn't Reggie asking for these moments when he demanded out of OKC? Well, here we are.
Steve Hinson: It's not a surprise that it's two of the more veteran guys, but yeah, Andre Drummond needs to be a leader. He's talked big stuff in the past about being a leader, but seems noticeably absent when the team needs a leader to step up.
Ben Gulker: I'm not going to assume that Baynes and Morris were calling other guys out simply because they talked the most. But even if they did, I'm glad someone is taking ownership.
Jamie Delaney: An ironic question in the midst of a turmoil over team basketball. You might remember back in training camp reading about how SVG asked Marcus to be a vocal leader this year, so I have no problem with him doing the talking. He's the "edge" on this squad, and I think a big issue thus far, especially with how young this team is, has been them holding each other accountable. So I think it is inconsequential who setup the meeting, just glad it happened, especially the week before games with the Warriors and Cavs.
Lazarus Jackson: 1,000 percent what Steve said, with the caveat that I don't think these particular issues are Andre Drummond's "fault." Andre's not really in control of shot distribution, and constant dribble penetration doesn't help his floundering defensive metrics.
Christopher Daniels: I'm glad someone, anyone did stand up and call BS on how they are playing. But yes, I'd have preferred it to be Andre and/or Reggie. They are far and away the apparent "leaders" of this team and should act like it a bit more.
What are your thoughts, DBB?