Underhand free-throws still not an option for Andre Drummond
Earlier, we reported that Andre Drummond and the Pistons had been working on a free-throw strategy which both parties believed would be the answer to the center's charity stripe struggles. While many speculated (and hoped) that Dre could be bringing back the underhanded "Granny-Style" free-throw to the NBA, he has dismissed the premise, as MLive's Aaron McMann relays.
The Pistons pivot was quick to reaffirm that this season would see him use the strategy that he has been working on with the team's coaching staff, and he remained optimistic that it would help him overcome his issues at the line. That being said, both he and the organization have remained tight-lipped about what the former UConn Husky will change about his current routine and approach. McMann points out that shooting coach David Hopla, who was brought in last year, may have been involved in the process. The team's dedicated shooting coach had improved Drummond's conversion rate in practice, but it failed to translate to regular season games.
This corroborates what DBB's own Hypnowheel discussed in a piece he penned last month, whereby he explained that the issues facing Drummond may be more psychological than anything else. It seems likely that rather than change his mechanics, Motown's star penguin could be attempting to change his approach mentally in order to help him improve his performance on the court.
Stan Van Gundy sees lack of leadership as team's biggest flaw heading into the season
Hard worker. Professional. Steadying presence. Leader. All words used to describe the myriad of veterans that Stan Van Gundy brought in since his arrival in the Motor City. For the first time, the team will lack a distinct veteran presence on the roster. Last year's elder statesmen, Steve Blake and Joel Anthony, have both been dismissed, while journeyman forward Anthony Tolliver, who provided some quality leadership, has signed a new contract with the Sacramento Kings. Per the Pistons' Keith Langlois:
"Absolutely. Absolute concern," Van Gundy admitted earlier this month. "If you look at what we did (over the off-season) and said, ‘OK, where's the problem?' - that would be it. We had three outstanding veteran leaders who were all about the right stuff."
On top of this, Stan believes the loss of player development coach Quentin Richardson earlier in the offseason also affects the amount of leadership and veteran savvy that the team had previously enjoyed. With Aron Baynes (29) currently the oldest player on the roster, followed by new additions Ish Smith (28), Boban Marjanovic (28) and incumbent starter Marcus Morris (27), the Pistons' coach knows someone will need to step up and be a leader.
"Those guys provided a lot of leadership for the team in general and the younger guys in particular and now with all four of those guys gone, are these guys ready? Can they get themselves ready? Can they lead each other? Who's going to emerge? Yeah, I think that there certainly is a concern," Van Gundy said. "It's a challenge for the guys on our team. I don't know how many teams in the league there are that will not have a single guy over 30 years old."
"So we've got some guys who are veteran guys. They may not be the grizzled 10- and 12-year veterans, but they've been around long enough to know what this is all about now and they're high-character guys and they're going to have to take on bigger roles. So, yeah, I'm concerned. But I'm also sort of excited to see if they'll step into those roles."
So who will it be? Have your say in the comment section below.
Langlois confirms that Marjanovic signing was made as a contingency plan for Baynes' expected departure
The writing has been on the wall ever since the team brought in fellow San Antonio Spurs bigman Boban Marjanovic, with beat writers, pundits and commenters alike all assuming that Aron Baynes' time in Piston blue, white and red was coming to an end. Well, after much speculation, Keith Langlois confirms in his Mailbag that the Pistons did indeed bring in the hulking Serbian center to replace the Aussie bruiser in the long-term:
Van Gundy called Baynes the team's most consistent bench player last season. Marjanovic was signed because the Pistons are planning for 2017-18 and beyond on the expectation that Baynes will opt out of his contract next July and likely earn offers beyond the Pistons' ability to compete given the fact they'll only have partial Bird rights that limit what they can pay him.
While this isn't exactly breaking news, it does further suggest the long-held view that Aron won't be a Piston past next season, and increases the likelihood that the second-string center could be dealt prior to the deadline in order to get something in return for his inevitable departure. Kudos goes to Stan and Jeff Bower for being able to read through the upcoming free agent market and deciding to snag a solid backup now rather than wait for Baynes to leave, giving them some flexibility roster-wise if they do decide to deal Aron away. But what exactly could the Pistons expect in return for a Baynes-centered deal? Have your say below.
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