Who says the mid-August no basketball malaise can’t all of a sudden turn into a holiday? Definitely not Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy!
Here in metro Detroit and everywhere else Pistons fans dwell, the off-season just got a bit more bearable as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reported Friday that Stan Van Gundy said he will give backup center Boban Marjanovic — no matter what the Pistons are doing defensively — much more of a chance to stay on the court.
Stan seems pretty dead set on making it a priority to force teams to deal with Boban’s size, his offensive skill and those darn massive hands. He wants to hold firm with Boban’s playing time and find a way to make it work. He’s wants to be proactive and not reactive to other teams. Here’s more from Van Gundy:
“I don’t want to be in situations where I’m making an immediate response to a team going small and I just reflexively take him out of the game.”
Though, how will Van Gundy and company ensure to best punish teams on offense with Boban even though on defense it could be a less than desirable matchup?
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that,” Van Gundy said. “It may be different really late in games where you’re up six with two minutes to go. We may want to have better coverage on threes. But over the course of the game, (make decisions) where it’s not a reflex or a guy comes in and hits one three, a five man, and you’re like, ‘We’ve got to get him out.’
“No, number one, stick with it. Number two, let’s have some schematic options to change before let’s make the third choice to maybe take him out. But not the first choice. And to understand that, OK, yeah, maybe they can pick and pop their five man, but at the other end, they’ve still got to guard him, too. And that proved very difficult for people to do last year.”
You have to like what SVG is talking about regarding the schemes they are devising to keep Boban on the floor despite his lack of mobility guarding quicker players. After all, it’s such a vital point under the job description of a head coach of any sport to be able to come up with strategies and schemes to get the most out your team and its players. Boban has talent and there’s no one who can guard him coming off any basketball bench in the world. And he can give most NBA starters a run for their money too. It then behooves you to find a way to play Boban, especially if you don’t have any other big men who can offer better.
Last season the trustworthy and more mobile Aron Baynes was the backup big man that Van Gundy turned to the most. With Baynes now in Boston, there’s no one like him anymore on the roster, and that’s part of the reason Van Gundy will likely, if his words are to be taken completely seriously (to be clear, I have little reason to doubt them), play Boban significant minutes no matter what the matchup is that particular night.
Boban is entering the second year of a three-year, 21 million dollar deal. While he might have been more inclined to leave San Antonio and come to Detroit for the increase in money (only after some prodding by Popovich), he certainly didn’t come to waste away on the bench like he did last season, sitting a total of 47 games. Speaking of waste, there’s just not any time to waste on Boban, as he’s just mere days away from turning 29. And he’s 7-foot-4 and weighs 290. There’s not many more seasons, you would think, that the big guy’s body will be able to hold up. The Pistons need to see what they have in the talented big fella. Thing is, and as Stan admits, everyone already pretty much knows what they have in Boban, as his per-36 numbers from last season were 23.5 points and 16.0 rebounds. Say, I think Stan can find 10-12 minutes for him every game.
While Stan certainly tends to over-analyze too much and get things wrong, we know that Stan is a smart guy overall. So I do understand why he’s been tentative to use Boban and why he will continue to have reservations on that to some degree. But I will tell you what would make Van Gundy’s coaching decisions easier when facing a small-ball lineup and teetering on if Boban should be playing or not, and that would simply be for Jon Leuer to play like first-half of last season Jon Leuer and not like the second-half of last season Jon Leuer who couldn’t provide much of anything.
That’s best case and an obvious win-win situation for the team. But let’s be honest, watching Boban play is usually a special treat. If Boban the Barbarian gets the consistent chance to play just about every night, I’m confident that he’s going to make Van Gundy very much regret holding him back for so long.
So, it’s just like that, isn’t it? Trade some Van Gundy regret for the likely outcome of some good ol’ fashion Boban domination? You’re damn right.
What do you all think out there? More Boban on the court means life seems a little more worth living, or something like that. Am I right?