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Through two games, Blake Griffin and Ish Smith shining - the rest...not so much

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Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Dwane Casey likes him some Ish Smith

Through the first two games, he’s gotten nearly 30 minutes per game on the floor - the first time we’ve seen that with a healthy Reggie Jackson. The two have shared the lineup for 13 minutes per game so far and it’s led to some nice results, a +8.5.

Ish has played really well so far, doing his usual thing of pushing the pace nicely but trying out some weird new stuff like shooting the ball well. He’s 50 percent from the field on both his two point and three point attempts. He even hit what would prove to be the game winner last night against the Bulls.

Blake Griffin is really freaking good

In his postgame comments last night, Blake talked about how they as a team need to figure some things out. He was visibly pissed with the team’s performance. At the end of the opener, he was in Glenn Robinson III’s face immediately after the win, reminding GR3 that the team was supposed to foul.

Blake has come into this season ready to play. His teammates? Not so much.

Blake is averaging 29.5 points per game on 62 percent true shooting percentage, 10 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and has just one turnover. He even made the key defensive stop last night.

His win shares per 48 minutes is .376. His box plus/minus is 8.2. The next highest on the Pistons is Zaza Pachulia at .6. Everyone else on the team is negative. I shit you not.

Basketball Reference

But back to Blake. He’s looking like the best player the Pistons have had since...ever? Even with some expected regression in his shooting percentages, he has been every part of a star.

The Pistons need to figure out their usage

Player A: 47.5 percent true shooting percentage, 6.3 percent assist percentage, 12.3 percent turnover percentage, 29.6 percent usage percentage
Player B: 62.1 percent true shooting percentage, 29.3 percent assist percentage, 2.1 percent turnover percentage, 28.6 percent usage percentage

Yeah, Andre Drummond hasn’t played very well through the first two games and this whole idea of him taking more long shots is a really bad one. Initially I was going to type “But he’s not the only problem on this front.” But he kinda is.

Reggie Jackson’s usage percentage is way lower than during the Stan Van Gundy era, partly because of his time off the ball while sharing the court with Ish. Stanley Johnson really seems intent in shooting his way out of the NBA, taking 13 shots last night with 7 of them coming from three point range.

But as a whole, the issue seems about who is getting fed. The Pistons are making a point of feeding Drummond and he’s making a point of taking those shots once he gets it. Too many of his shots are bad ones and turning those bad shots into passes would both create more opportunities for teammates and ensure that Griffin is even more involved.

Possessions are becoming more and more valuable in the league today. Through two games, the Pelicans are averaging 140 freaking points per game. The Pistons can’t afford to piss away possessions.

So far, same old Pistons

The Pistons are 26th in the league in TS through their first two games, the same corner of the NBA world they lived in under SVG. They’re keeping their heads above water thanks to offensive rebounding and avoiding turnovers, the same thing that’s been the case for decades. Their defense is flawed but at least ok.

It’s difficult to imagine a less satisfying undefeated season.

Blake was absolutely correct in his postgame comments. This team has to figure some things out. As is, they’re looking at another middling season, another first round exit - if they even manage to make the playoffs.

The schedule is remains pretty soft, so there’s time to work through their growing pains. But once we get to mid-November, things get much more difficult. Without changes, the record could get ugly quickly.