There are two major differences in the current Pistons’ offense when compared to the 25th ranked version from last year.
First, Stan Van Gundy removed almost all empty Andre Drummond post touches and replaced them with efficient elbow hand-offs for Avery Bradley with a touch of Tobias Harris.
Second—and maybe the most obvious—the Pistons are connecting on their jump shots, which includes 38 percent from beyond the arc as a team. It’s amazing what making shots can do for the optics on an offense.
Make no mistake, for all the celebrations of the new motion-based offense, the pick-and-roll remains the staple play and while it might not get direct credit, the derived offense from the PNR is making all the difference in the world.
During the 2016-17 season, Pistons’ spot-up shooters scored .858 PPP from a Reggie Jackson led pick-and-roll.
During the first 13 games in 17-18—under the same conditions—the Pistons are scoring 1.132 PPP which is a drastic difference.
What does that look like?
Most of the above damage is done beyond the arc with a majority of the volume coming from Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley.
On the year, Harris is hitting over 50 percent of 3-point attempts while Bradley is “just” at 41 percent.
Again, a Boban-sized change from last year:
Add capable (to date) shooters Langston Galloway with Anthony Tolliver and proper spacing is finally a “thing” in Detroit.
So what happens when the defense now has to legitimately be concerned about perimeter shooting? Well, we’ve kinda seen it before.
The lane opens up for not only a rolling Drummond:
But for Jackson as well:
The rolling man on a Jackson PNR scores 1.108 PPP this year compared to .994 last season. Jackson, himself, is scoring at a clip of 1.025 PPP vs. .889 a year ago.
The bottom line is this: 69 percent (71 percent last year) of all Reggie Jackson possessions come from the PNR with either him shooting or passing to the roll man / spot-up shooter.
How is that different than what we’re accustom to? The bread and butter of the Pistons seems to still be the Jackson led pick-and-roll only it’s coming from different angles and evolving from the “new” motion offense.
Yes, Detroit has explored new sets and the contributions are across the board. The Pistons are 10-3 for a variety of reasons and maybe none more important than simply making shots.
Which begs the question: what happens when they start missing?