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Pistons Links: Ish Smith love and a lack of “foreplay” on offense

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Ish Smith isn’t about all that foreplay on offense business.

NBA: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit averaging fewest turnovers in the NBA partly because “foreplay” isn’t their forte

Stan Van Gundy says a lot of things. Insightful and intriguing things, usually. And now he’s being fun and probably doesn’t even realize it. SVG just being his ol’ SVG self.

Through all the ups and downs during the first 20 games of the season, the Detroit Pistons can hang their hat on taking care of the basketball.

The Pistons are averaging an NBA-low 11.5 turnovers per game, which are also translating to a league-low 11.8 points per game.

In other words, opponents aren't getting much help in the way of mistakes.

"We don't do a lot of stuff where we're doing a lot of foreplay in sets," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We're not trying to swing the ball a lot. We're trying to move the ball via dribble-handoffs and pick and rolls.

On the contrary, the Atlanta Hawks (Friday’s opponent) are second highest in the league (29th) in turnovers per game, sitting at 17.5.

Ish Smith deserves some love with recent play

Via the Detroit Free Press:

Smith may have gotten off to a slow start, but he is surging with starting point guard Reggie Jackson due back soon from left knee rehab.

“He’s making great plays,” Tobias Harris said. “He’s one of the most unselfish guys in the league. When he gets it out there, he gets it going. There’s times in the games when he bursts out in front of everybody, before the ball is even out of the basket he’s up around half-court.”

The Pistons (10-10) have won four of five, and Smith’s play is a reason.

He is averaging 13.6 points per game on 55.8% shooting during the stretch. He also dishing out 4.6 assists per game with only one turnover in five games, despite averaging nearly 29 minutes.

Ish Smith highlights from Pistons win over Celtics

Credit to DownToBuck on YouTube, a very useful account to follow for NBA video on the lesser known players (see: non-stars) in the league. In fact, I’ll give a shout-out to DownToBuck’s own website, downtobuck.net (basically an archive of all his YouTube videos), where he provides video of Caldwell-Pope’s 25-point game against Boston and also give us this (just don’t get too down on DownToBuck, he’s a Bucks fan after all):

I pretty much only make Kentavious Caldwell-Pope videos to keep Pistons fans from thinking I hate their team. It’s definitely not for my enjoyment and it’s definitely not for the enjoyment of the wider internet population. It’s just for Pistons fans and that’s it. In fact, I don’t think it’s even for Pistons fans because nobody pays attention to KCP videos. So it’s for nobody. Literally nobody. The only utility they have is that I can point to them when Pistons fans think I have some sort of weird personal animosity towards them or their team.

Likely to get top effort from “mature” Hawks on Friday

A little more than two weeks ago I mentioned the Hawks were sitting at an 8-2 record and were the league’s best fourth-quarter defensive team. Fast forward to now and it is not all peaches and puppies for them, as they’ve lost four straight.

The Hawks have lost four straight after starting their five-game road trip with a win. They have also lost seven of eight games. After starting the season 9-2, they now stand at 10-9. They believe they are better than a .500 team.

“You never feel good when you have a tough road trip and you’ve lost a few in a row,” Budenholzer said. “But I think we are looking forward to going home. This is a pretty mature group and they will be ready on Friday.”

NBA Draft Room has Pistons selecting French point guard in 2017

It’s too early for draft talk, but learning about all the probable (and improbable) players in the 2017 NBA draft isn’t such a bad thing, I hope. Even though there are so many freshmen high on all of the mock drafts, pretty much all of the surefire ones will be gone when it is the Pistons turn to select. NBA Draft Room’s last update (November 30, 2016) has the Pistons selecting six-foot four / six-foot five point guard Frank Ntilikina with the 12th overall pick. Obviously the Pistons won’t be as high as twelve on the board, but the point is that this is pretty fun — Frank Ntilikina is no longer a meaningless name to me and to others! We are learning! For those out there who are at least somewhat familiar with Frank’s game, enlighten us more in the comments if you wish.

A worthy Ridiculous Upside post on Ntilikina is here.

After The Process: Meet Sam Hinkie 2.0

Via Fox Sports (Story appears in the December 5, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated):

On the days I shadowed him, Hinkie stacked meeting on top of meeting, to better maximize his time. (Some are with people who reach out to him, hoping to pick his brain, while others he sets up.) He sat with hopeful Stanford M.B.A. students, seemingly all of whom wanted to run a team one day. He listened as a wiry start-up founder described his quest for life optimization, which included eating the same meal, a doctor-recommended curry, every day for nine months. He nodded along with the head of the Positive Coaching Alliance, of which he is a national advisory board member, and recommended contacting Stan Van Gundy. (“Hit him up for a coaching clinic. That’s catnip for the Van Gundys.”) One morning we met at Facebook, where Hinkie had just finished talking to the virtual reality folks. Another afternoon we took a four-mile hike—research proves that walking improves cognitive function, after all—and discussed parenting, AI and Bayesian probabilities.

People who first meet Hinkie are often surprised. For one, he’s funnier than you expect. (At one point he jokes, “If Pop turns David Lee into a great defender, he’s a wizard and we should burn him.”)

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Now go make some love this weekend. And you know what to do to start it off right.