The Detroit Pistons finished a disappointing 37-45 last season. As the team looks to improve and regain a spot in the playoffs, Detroit Bad Boys is examining three things each player can do to improve their game and improve the chance the team wins. Whether you’re new to the game or a season Pistons watcher, these are important factors that anyone can appreciate and will help you understand and evaluate Detroit’s team as we get ready for the 2017-18 season.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Last year Stanley Johnson shot 35 percent from the field and 29 percent from three. His 43 percent true shooting percentage was one of the worst in the league. The early returns from preseason look better - both on paper and on the court. So far this preseason Johnson has shot 43 percent from the field and 44 percent from three. Perhaps more importantly his shot just looks better. Last year for whatever reason, Johnson incorporated this weird corkscrew action to his three point shot, kicking his leg out even when set for the shot. In the preseason his shot has shown more rhythm and his form looks more logical.
Last year Johnson somehow managed to be an asset on the court despite his horrendous offense with a +.2 net rating. If he can just get up to the Not A Complete Disaster mark with his shooting, he can be a solid contributor this season.
Johnson will get the first crack in the starting lineup this season. Each of the past two seasons, Johnson has gone through struggles where he’s lost his rotation spot to Reggie Bullock. Bullock is once again Johnson’s primary competition for his spot. But Reggie will start the season with a five game suspension, giving Johnson the chance to cement his position in the starting lineup. But if Stanley comes out shooting like he did last season, cue the Distracted Boyfriend meme.
Figure out identity
Part of developing a young player is understanding the destination. Who will this player be when he grows up? Is this guy your primary scorer, a three and D player, a secondary ball handler, a specialist of some sort? One of the attractive elements of Johnson is his versatility. But it’s not really clear that he has a great sense of what to do with that versatility. At times he seems to envision himself as a scorer, but his shot attempts dropped dramatically last year with his struggles offensively - from 18 field goal attempts per 100 possessions to just 13. He shows promise as a ball handler, but turns it over too much. So the combination at times leads to Johnson just hiding on offense and working to make his mark on the defensive end.
Johnson ought to watch as much Draymond Green as he can. He has the skillset and mentality to be the second coming of Draymond. Johnson can put the ball on the floor and get into the lane, but often struggles to score on his own once he’s there. If he’s focusing more on facilitating for others, he could find some great success this season.
But even if he goes another direction, it’s year three for Johnson. It’s time for him to start showing what kind of player he’s growing into.