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Pistons preseason by the numbers: Role players leading improved offense

Good news on some of the primary numbers. Bad news from the foundation.

NBA: Preseason-Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

So it’s a big season for the Pistons and there are a few key metrics that are essential for them to be successful. Here are a few I’m tracking from the preseason, along with some context.

True shooting percentage

2016-17: 52.1 percent
2017-18: 54.1 percent

54.1 percent still isn’t good (17th in the league in the preseason), but if the Pistons were able to hold that over the course of a season, it’d be their best performance in the mark since the 1999-2000 season. This team has always been a rather putrid TS squad.

Where the Pistons’ TS issues usually tend to see few players contributing toward improving the situation, in the preseason only a few players were a problem. Boban Marjanovic shooting 77 percent true shooting percentage certainly helps things - and that’s even with Boban shooting an uncharacteristic 63 percent from the stripe.

Ish Smith, Andre Drummond, Henry Ellenson, and Avery Bradley all scored more efficiently than was typical for them. We’ll talk more about Drummond’s TS in a minute.

Offensive rating

2016-17: 103.3
2017-18: 105.9

Detroit had the eighth best offense in the league in the preseason. As usual, despite scoring at below average efficiency the Pistons offense was propped up by the fourth best offensive rebounding percentage in the league. Andre Drummond and Eric Moreland are pretty much exclusively responsible for that excellence, as the only players on the team in double digit offensive rebounding percentage - and they posted 18 and 22 percent respectively.

Three point shots made per game and three point percentage

2016-17: 23.4
2017-18: 24.8
2016-17: 33 percent
2017-18: 36.3 percent

Despite getting solid shooting performances from the majority of their shooters, the Pistons were still only 17th in the league in the preseason for their percentage. Langston Galloway was a high volume three point shooter but only made 30 percent, which tanked the team’s overall performance.

But the power forward was particularly encouraging in their three point shooting. Tobias Harris shot 53 percent from three, Anthony Tolliver shot 44 percent, and Henry Ellenson shot 40 percent.

Midrange field goal attempts per game

2016-17: 24.7
2017-18: 22

Despite the drop, the Pistons were still fourth among NBA teams in the mark during the preseason. They shot it well at 46 percent, but that’s still not a great shot for a two point attempt.

It’s always been rather inexplicable as to why Stan Van Gundy’s offenses have taken so many of the shots his defenses tries to force.

Assist percentage

2016-17: 53 percent
2017-18: 58.4 percent

Again, a jump for the Pistons, but still bad. 22nd in the league for the preseason. Ish naturally led the team with a 40 percent assist percentage, but he didn’t have much help. Reggie Jackson’s assist percentage was 30 percent, which isn’t terrible but still not where it needs to be.

Andre Drummond was actually fourth on the team at 16 percent, compared to six percent last year. Drummond has the ability to fling it when he’s so inclined. But more often than not he’s been a culprit to ball stoppage rather than a solution. If he changes that, it could have a team-wide impact.

Defensive rating

2016-17: 105.3
2017-18: 104.5

Though it’s a little lower from their solid defensive performance last season, that defensive rating was good for 26th in the league in the preseason. They weren’t able to generate much in the way of stops, allowing 53.6 percent effective field goal percentage - compared to 50.4 percent last season, which also isn’t particularly good. They allowed 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from three, both pretty lousy marks.

Though the Pistons were successful for the typical parts of their defensive scheme: preventing second chances and avoiding fouls.

Drummond true shooting percentage

2016-17: 51.8 percent
2017-18: 58.8 percent

Shooting 80 percent from the free throw line helps here a lot. Whether you buy this improvement depends solely on whether you buy on Drummond legitimately improving at the line.

His field goal percentage was actually down in the preseason, from 53 percent to 50 percent. But all that matters is scoring efficiently. If it works, it works. But I think I’ll buy the very last ticket onto the Andre Drummond, Elite Free Throw Shooter bandwagon.

Drummond net rating

2016-17: -6.3
2017-18: -5.1

While it’s easy to dismiss these team-oriented stats by laying them at the feet of teammates, it’s notable that Drummond didn’t have a positive net rating in any of his preseason games.

Opposing center field goal percentage

2016-17: 52.5 percent
2017-18: 59.2 percent

This one isn’t entirely apples to apples, nor is it comprehensive. The prior year is Drummond’s opposing field goal percentage allowed, the latter is the field goal percentage for starting centers in games Drummond started.

If you want to easily monitor how Drummond’s energy and engagement looks this season, particularly from the defensive end, just look at his man’s box score. His opponents typically had a field day against him and he’s become a circle the date matchup for fans at least.

In his three preseason games, the results weren’t great. But that’s mostly because of Jonas Valaciunas absolutely dominating Drummond in a pathetic performance for Dre. He bounced back by taking care of Thon Maker and generally playing a much more engaged form of defense against Milwaukee.

Reggie Jackson true shooting percentage

2016-17: 51 percent
2017-18: 39.9 percent

The good news is that Jackson was actually really good inside eight feet, shooting 64.7 on those attempts. The bad news is that he was absolutely abysmal anywhere else, shooting 2-18.

His injury troubles manifested themselves most last season by his inability to get to the rim or finish in traffic. He was able to do that this preseason. So does that mean it’s not an injury issue, rather a being shitty issue? Definitely concerning.

Jackson net rating

2016-17: -8.8
2017-18: -31.9