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.
1. Don’t run out of gas
The tale of Jon Leuer’s first year in Detroit is pretty simple. 1. Really good off the bench. 2. Inserted into the starting lineup and effective but not an integral part of offense. 3. Game falls off a cliff. Unfortunately, it seems Pistons fans only seem to remember the third part. After the All-Star break, Leuer shot 40 percent from the floor and 20 percent from 3. He had a 47 percent true shooting percentage. But in his first 50 games, he had a 58.7 true shooting percentage, which led the Pistons. We need the Leuer of the first two-thirds of the season. Whether he needs to be a reserve or just needed better offseason conditioning to make that happen, I have no idea. But it needs to happen.
2. Hit at least a couple 3-pointers
The funny thing about Detroit’s newly minted stretch power forward. He did a lot of things, but he never really stretched the floor. Leuer had attempted 200 3s and was a career 37.5 3-point shooter spanning five seasons before arriving in Detroit. That’s really all the Pistons need. Instead, they got a 29 percent 3-point shooter in 167 attempts. He doesn’t need to be at 38 percent considering what else he offers, but he needs to at least hit that 33 percent threshold that will help keep defenses honest.
3. Get to the basket
Here is where I completely contradict myself. After talking about his need to hit 3s, it is important to understand that he can still be really good even beyond 3-point shots. One of the reasons he was so effective is because of a good combination of quickness, touch and high basketball IQ. Leuer found the gaps in the defense and was able to convert. Did you know that Leuer scored 1.55 points per possession off of basket cuts last season? That put him in the 93rd percentile in the NBA. Leuer was also an effective post-up option against power forward and small-ball centers putting up 1.0 points per possession, second only to Tobias Harris (and way ahead of Andre Drummond).