Back at it in our continuing series, we have a few questions asked and answered about various Pistons-related topics, including one about the relevance of the flagrant 2 foul Andre Drummond received after the elbow he threw (or didn’t?) to the back of Roy “I used to be a defensive monster” Hibbert’s head, one on how the Pistons find themselves ranked very high in defensive ranking, and the final one on issues with rebounding.
Grab a cup of coffee, a cold beer, or a lovely glass of Kool-Aid, sit back and enjoy! (Oh and chime in in the comments section below on what your thoughts are on these subjects.)
1. How troubled are you by Andre Drummond's flagrant foul and subsequent laughing off of the double tech? Does this add to concern about his mental focus?
Ben Gulker: Troubled? Not at all. The shove looked intentional, but it didn't appear to me that Dre was aiming for the head. Fluke play.
Lazarus Jackson: Not really troubled; I thought it was a flagrant foul, but a Flagrant 1, not a Flagrant 2. Concern about Andre's mental focus is warranted, but I'm not super worried. We know Andre's offense feeds into his defensive effort (as much as we'd like it to be the other way around), and when Reggie returns, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Andre will look better offensively.
Steve Hinson: Eh, I'm more concerned that it's a scrub like Roy Hibbert who was able to get under his skin enough to knock him out of the game. But Drummond's defense has been the biggest issue through the first quarter of the season. It's been tremendously bad.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): It wasn’t (I hope not) intentional so the act nor the laugh bother me. By now, the up and down play is too be expected and I’ve adjusted my expectations moving forward. As far as mental focus, again par for the Drummond course. He’ll have a bad game or two in a row but by the end of the month and eventual year, he’s at 14/14. It’s his fifth year, he is what he is.
Jordan Bellant: I'm not troubled by a fluky flagrant call that should've been a Flagrant 1. His reaction isn't ideal for a team's best player, but that's Dre. He's still young and I don't think it speaks to his mental focus. I do have questions of focus on the floor, usually on defense, but I don't mind it when it's in response to a call like that.
Kevin Sawyer: Not really. I'm more concerned with techs that come from being an erratic hothead, not a lack of focus.
Jason Brunskowski: Honestly, I'm not as much concerned with Drummond as much as I am our expectation of him. I love Drummond and think he is a great player, but I can't say I wouldn't rather have Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony-Towns who "seem" to be more mature and focused. At least as calling someone the "franchise player." DeAndre Jordan is not labeled a franchise player, but is just as good of a player, and better in some aspects, than Drummond. Or maybe he's just better used in that system.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I would have to see several more plays like this before I would start worrying. Stuff happens and there's not really any evidence it's some kind of new norm for Dre this year.
Ben Quagliata: I thought it was a weak call on a Flagrant 2. Having watched the replay it was definitely unnecessary, but to constitute a Flagrant 2 it’d be excessive. Dre doesn’t have a thuggish history (James Johnson aside) so I’m over it.
2. The Detroit Pistons are 5th in Defensive Rating. How are they getting it done?
Ben Gulker: Stan Van Gundy has gotten better defense out of the whole than the sum of the parts would suggest is possible in each of his seasons in Detroit, and that trend continues this season. I can't plumb the full depths of SVG's wizardry, but I'll point out two oft-overlooked things that help quite a bit. First, the Pistons are currently tied for the lowest turnover rate in the NBA, which minimizes transition opportunities for the opponent and thus improves overall team defense. Second, the Pistons are playing at a (surprisingly) slow pace, which minimizes transition opportunities and allows the Pistons' defense to set up frequently.
Lazarus Jackson: Your guess is as good as mine. Apparently, Aron Baynes has been really good protecting the rim (https://twitter.com/mhonkasalo/status/803994194343841793) and the bench unit as a whole looks good defensively. You also can attribute the defensive rating to SVG's defensive philosophy: Don't allow looks at the rim (Pistons are fourth in opponent FGA within 5 feet) or from 3 (Pistons are fifth in opponent FGA from 20-24 feet). Making teams beat you with a bunch of midrange jumpers is a sound defensive strategy.
Steve Hinson: Defending without fouling. That's always been Stan Van Gundy's MO on defense, but last season they weren't able to get the stops, finishing 16th in eFG allowed. This year they're fifth.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): They don’t foul, they don’t turn the ball over, they don’t give up fast break points; in essence, nothing easy. By and large, teams have to work to score points. By and large, teams hate having to work to score points.
Jordan Bellant: SVG has done a tremendous job with the team's defense. They force opponents into the shots they don't want to take. Teams are not shooting as well at the basket against Andre Drummond, compared to last season. As usual, they are focusing on ball pressure and a strong team effort. It was on display against Charlotte and many of the league's better offensive teams.
Kevin Sawyer: Limiting both the frequency and accuracy of 2-point field goals, and fouling less. This would suggest the interior defense has improved, which I would attribute to Drummond.
Jason Brunskowski: While I agree with what most everyone else has said, I also think it has to do with SVG getting everyone on the same train AND the fact that everyone on the team sees something happening here, making them want to try harder.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: They're executing well and playing the standard Thibodeau defense quite effectively. They haven't made it easy on other teams, not giving away transition baskets or free throws, two of the best ways to get efficient points. It's not just system though, Drummond's improvement on the defensive end has been a bit underrated and KCP is a real All-Defensive team candidate this season.
Ben Quagliata: The Pistons, from my eye test anyway, seem to force opponents into the midrange game a lot, which is statistically the most inefficient shot in basketball. They match up fairly well in transition and I’ve noticed our rotations and general defensive scramble to be far better than recent seasons. This is with perhaps one elite defender in KCP, three average-ish defenders in Morris, Harris and Drummond, and a not-so-very-good-defender-to-put-it-nicely in Ish Smith.
3. The Pistons were the fifth best rebounding team in the league last season AFTER trading for Tobias Harris. This season they are 23rd. What happened and can it be fixed?
Ben Gulker: As good as Tobias Harris has been offensively, he's been the weakest link in terms of rebounding in the frontcourt. I don't expect a lot of offensive rebounds from a stretch four like Tobias, but we should expect better defensive rebounding. Compared to his career averages, Tobias' current defensive rebounding percentage is about four percentage points down from his career averages (and he put up career averages last season in Detroit). So, hopefully, his production (wait for it) rebounds soon.
Lazarus Jackson: Tobias averaged six rebounds a game last season and is currently averaging 4.7 rebounds a game. Marcus Morris averaged five rebounds a game last season and is currently averaging four rebounds a game. This one isn't on Andre, it's on the guys around him. Tobias, in particular, has to be more aggressive on the glass.
Steve Hinson: The biggest difference is on the offensive boards. I really don't know if it's a matter of scheme or players - but last season the Pistons managed to be second in the league in offensive rebounds while also holding teams to the fewest number fast break points. So if it is compromising with the scheme, I don't think it's really necessary.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1): As a team, the difference in rebounding this year is on the offensive end and its basic cause and effect. SVG can be heard miles away “GET BACK”; this takes a toll on the offensive glass. Because that’s nothing new for a SVG team, I think the numbers will even out.
Jordan Bellant: The team will see improvement in offensive rebounding when Reggie returns. I also see Tobias' rebounding numbers to return to his career averages. The team is playing slower and more of a half court game this season. So I expect the rebounding will come around, I'm not too worried at the moment. I think the current numbers will find their way to just above league average soon enough.
Kevin Sawyer: Drummond is playing fewer minutes, and Baynes is just off his game. They constitute our rebounding presence, so there you go. I do think finding a way to get our bigs on the floor for more minutes would help solve the problem.
Jason Brunskowski: Again, everyone makes valid points. It "may" also have to do with teams, on average, shooting one more shot per game and shooting worse (except from the free throw line) than last year. It would be my guess (haven't looked that deep), but I would guess other teams are averaging more rebounds than they were last year and we're shooting better than we did last year, meaning we don't have as many chances at rebounds offensively.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: On the defensive end, the center is the only good rebounder in any non-Leuer lineups, and the good rebounding last year after the Harris trade might have been a small sample size fluke. On the offensive end, Reggie Jackson's absence has limited the offensive rebounding opportunities for Drummond because there isn't anybody else on the roster that can consistently get to the rim and draw help along the way.
Ben Quagliata: This could partly stem from the better team defence because we appear to be getting back rather than crashing the offensive glass. In terms of individual production, Drummond certainly isn’t the problem, but I’d ideally like more than 8 combined rebounds a game from Harris and Morris. Too often it seems like one of them will have 1-2 rebounds at 3 quarter time.