The first two days of the 2017 Orlando Summer League are in the books. The Pistons lost a close game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on day one, but came back strong with a sound victory against the New York Knicks on day two. The Pistons have an off day today.
Most eyes were on a pair of Pistons first-round draft picks -- rookie Luke Kennard and second-year pro Henry Ellenson. Kennard was a controversial pick with the Pistons with many questioning his defense and ceiling with other tantalizing players still on the board — namely Donvoan Mitchell. Ellenson, meanwhile, didn’t get an opportunity to show much outside of select games with the Grand Rapids Drive, and fans have been wondering if he deserves a spot in the rotation.
Let’s get right to which Pistons players brought it and which struggled during the first two games.
Kennard stroked it from downtown in the first game with a 4-of-6 effort. From 2-point range he was just 2-of-8, but did make other plays with three assists. In the second game, Luke struggled from long range (1-of-5), however, he grabbed five boards and had another three dimes. He finished with 14 points. We can’t stress it enough — Luke is crafty and has strong handles, putting him in position to score the ball from all over the court. As for defense, we’ll have to keep a more careful check on that as time progresses.
Some Kennard highlights and chatting after the game two win:
Luke Kennard spoke with Matt Winer and Vince Carter following the #Pistons win over the #Knicks today. pic.twitter.com/Q4OeP8dDva— Palace Pistons (@PalaceOfPistons) July 2, 2017
Ellenson came ready to play and the numbers certainly didn’t lie. Ended up tied for the league lead in scoring on day one after notching 21. Game two saw Henry be much more efficient with his shot at 5-of-9 from the floor — also was second on the team with four assists. Henry looks calmer and much more confident in most facets of the game.
Don’t miss this very methodical move and tough shot from Henry:
Look back at yesterdays #Pistons Summer League game vs #Thunder.— Marty_Tallman (@MartyTallmanNBA) July 2, 2017
Big takeaway, especially compared to last year, Henry Ellenson is pic.twitter.com/ypiRQVrJ6v
In two games his totals are eight blocked shots, 17 rebounds and 25 points (7-of-9 free-throws). Here’s one particularly emphatic block:
You have to imagine that Moreland is in the lead right now for that third center spot in Detroit — or a spot on another team for that matter. As Ben Quagliata mentioned earlier, Moreland has had some injury problems during his pro career up to this point, so if he can stay healthy perhaps the 25-year-old can find a home in Detroit this season.
#Pistons Eric Moreland is active around the rim and on the boards ... might be playing himself into that role as third center.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) July 2, 2017
Started the first game and then came off the bench in the second, scoring 12 and dishing seven dimes in just 16 minutes. Pierre has only turned the ball over once so far. Here he smoothly runs the pick and roll for a Moreland bucket:
Pierre Jackson has looked great. Working that PNR beautifully #Pistons pic.twitter.com/I6DfcPtlZs— Justin Jett (@JustinJett_) July 2, 2017
Been mostly solid on both games (one start, one off bench) with two double-digit scoring efforts. He did cough up the ball four times in the first game. Putting it plainly, Lorenzo probably is what he is at this point, kind of a AAAA point guard. Nothing wrong with that, yet maybe Detroit should look more closely at different and younger options from now on.
Here’s someone keeping close track of the Pistons’ point guards in summer league:
Lorenzo Brown and Pierre Jackson have both had a really solid 2 games. Pistons don't have a spot for them but other teams should take note.— Halbridious (@Halbridious) July 2, 2017
The Pistons not having a spot for either Lorenzo or Pierre is not exactly true. With the new two-way contract situation, NBA teams can have up to two two-way contract players on the team, which allows a team to “essentially carry two more roster spots that won’t count against the salary cap.” One of these two point guards could be ideal for either the 16th or 17th roster spot if the Pistons so choose.
Has totaled 20 points in two games and is doing on offense what he’s been paid to do in the NBA for the last four seasons with the 76ers — shoot three-pointers (4-of-5 so far).
Good ole Hollis Thompson hitting the pull-up three. One of the original Process employees. pic.twitter.com/SS0cXNkeFA— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) July 1, 2017
Struggling a bit right now with his shot (5-of-18 overall), but actually is hanging in there at 4-of-11 from long range. Michael’s lone two-point make was this jam via Luke “Steve Nash ain’t got nothing on me” Kennard:
Didn’t play in the first game, though saw nearly 16 minutes in the second game; scoring seven points, blocking two shots and corralling five rebounds. He had at least two shots sent back to him on offense however. Mike will surely need to pick his play up the rest of the week with Moreland getting the majority of playing time at the center spot and thus far rising to the challenge.
Heady move here from Mike over Marshall Plumlee:
Good positioning by Mike Tobey inside. Nice footwork and use of body to get the nice hook to fall. pic.twitter.com/GqVDyfHcId— Aaron Johnson (@AJohnsonNBA) July 2, 2017
For full Pistons summer league highlights from day one against the Thunder, check here. For full Pistons summer league highlights from day two against the Knicks, check here. Want more of that seductive left-handed goodness from Kennard, check here and here.
Pistons are back in action July 4th at 1PM against the Miami Heat. Heat rookie big man Bam Adebayo has been active the first two games and should be a good test on both ends of the court for Ellenson and Moreland.