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DBB on 3: New Pistons head coach Dwane Casey

It’s official, the Pistons have a new man in the coach’s seat...we discuss.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a fan of Dwane Casey it appears the Detroit Pistons were fortunate that LeBron James stood in the Toronto Raptors way yet again in the playoffs as that summary dismissal from the post season drove Casey’s firing and allowed his hiring by Tom Gores.

If we’re lucky we can chalk up the Raps post season woes more to a massive case of DeRozan/Lowry being owned by LeBron jitters than to a lack of guidance from Casey. Only time will tell.

If nothing else after cases of spellcheck players (see Afflalo, Gbinije) we finally have a spellcheck coach.


As usual in this feature we asked our staff three questions, this time about the Casey hiring. Dig in and be sure to chime in with your own views in the comments below.

1. Dwane Casey....where does his hire rate on your scale from 1-10?

Ben Gulker: 7.5. Casey is a proven coach and probably the best hire available at this point.

Sean Wheeler: 8/10. Casey is the best they could do without taking a chance on the next Brad Stevens, which would be a big risk. And look, when you can hire the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, it’s pretty hard to argue with that.

Ryan Pravato: 7.5/10. Could be a lot worse. He has an impressive resume as far as regular season is concerned. Casey will have his work cut out for him with the present roster, but will likely not be a dud. This is fine for right now as long as the organization doesn’t CONTINUE MORTGAGING THE FUTURE FOR POTENTIAL SMALL GAINS IN THE SHORT-TERM.

Jordan Bellant: I give it a 7. I think he’s a good coach and has done a nice job developing players. I give his staff some credit as well but the dude can coach. It’s not flashy and I don’t think he’s a championship-level coach. But it’s also not a championship-level roster.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: 8/10. I like this hire. The Pistons’ best move is to see what is possible with the current core while trying to develop young guys and acquire assets along the margins when possible. Casey fits well with that vision. Not a franchise saver, but that’s fine, he’s a coach.

David Fernandez: Giving this a solid 8/10. Casey showed an ability to take a team from utter obscurity to the national stage. I’m hopeful he’ll be able to take the Pistons from their middling existence, to playoff mainstays, for years to come.

Lazarus Jackson: 7 out of 10, but there were no perfect 10’s (Popovich, Stevens, Spolestra) available. Casey will, at the absolute least, maintain the level of success (should I put that in air quotes for the #DoomSquad?) that Stan Van Gundy had in Detroit, and will hopefully improve on it in the form of more than one playoff appearance.

Justin Lambregtse: 5, I don’t hate it, but I also done love it. It’s just kind of meh to me.

Steve Hinson: 8. He was probably the best candidate from the start and the Pistons were pretty lucky to land him, considering the convoluted nature of how Tom Gores has handled the firing/hiring process.

2. If you could predict based on his coaching acumen one major positive shift from the SVG days what would it be?

Ben Gulker: I hope it means an improved offense. Casey has experience getting a lot out of his player’s offensive abilities over the course of an entire season - something SVG never achieved in Detroit - including getting production out of traditional bigs in a small NBA. Even a middle-of-the-road offense coupled with the defense of the past several season would be a significant improvement.

Sean Wheeler: Player development. Hard to tell how much of that is coach vs player, but it’s a common knock on SVG that he doesn’t do the best job of coaching up the young guys. The team’s ceiling would be much higher if Stanley can take it to the next level. Maybe Casey can do a better job than SVG of getting the most out of him.

Ryan Pravato: Player development. DeRozan and Lowry grew as players under Casey’s direction/tutelage/whatever you want to call it. Other Raptors players did too - like Poeltl, Van Vleet, Wright, and perhaps Valanciunas in some ways.

Jordan Bellant: Better use of the rotation!

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: One noticeable change hasn’t been mentioned yet is Casey is much more of a players’ coach than SVG. Their two strategic philosophies aren’t likely that different, but I can think of a few Pistons that have been in and out of SVG’s doghouse that are likely to play better under Casey. The track record of developing and playing young guys is nice, too (and most importantly, Casey not being the President of Basketball Operations).

David Fernandez: An ability to embrace youth and not be too stubborn with his roster. He made a move from Powell when Toronto was getting solid contributions from OG and FVV. We saw SVG start Jon Leuer over Tobias Harris for 35+ games a couple seasons ago...

Lazarus Jackson: I think the players will be happier. Stan was fair, but could be brusque and loud, which works for some players and doesn’t for others. The book on Casey is that he is quieter, but still demands execution and focus. After three-ish years of SVG (for most guys - Andre is the only guy left from when SVG took over four years ago), I think that will be a welcomed change.

Justin Lambregtse: Less yelling? That’s the issue that I have with this hiring, I don’t think I he is all that different from SVG. Both are old school, defensive-minded coaches who are kind of stubborn and resistant to change.

Steve Hinson: I have to give a shout out to MrHappyMushroom here. Initially I was pretty meh about the change, that it was pretty much just rotating chairs. But he pushed back and touted player development - and once I started to look more critically about Casey’s tenure in Toronto, MFMHM is right. Casey had a tendency to get the best out of his players. From top to bottom, guys like Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jakob Poeltl, or Delon Wright, these guys are all producing about as well as you could hope for. Meanwhile, Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jon Leuer...definitely haven’t. It’s always tough to parse out credit on these fronts between player and coach, but the results between the two tenures were definitely clear. Hopefully Casey can have the same success in Detroit.

3. Do you think that part of his hire was an understanding that he would try to make the current “big three” work or do you see changes possible before the start of next season?

Ben Gulker: I’m not sure any of the “big 3” go anywhere immediately, but I continue to think the dark horse trade candidate is Drummond long term. If the goal is to win based around Griffin - and I think it is - I’m not sure how you flesh out the roster with Drummond’s max on the books.

Sean Wheeler: Given his statement on ESPN, he sees their big three in a positive light. It’s very unlikely any of those guys will be traded prior to the start of the season, so I think he understands that’s what he’s signing up for.

Ryan Pravato: I know Daniels is joking with the big three thing*, but still. This team doesn’t have a big three... but if it did, Luke Kennard should be included and not Jackson. I’m excited (timidly) for what Casey could accomplish with this roster as currently constructed. Can he win a series? That’s a fun question all of a sudden. Suffice to say with Van Gundy in power this team wasn’t anywhere close to winning a series. Now? It’s a better possibility, provided Casey and his assistants can get better focus and consistent effort out of guys like Drummond and Jackson. Oh, also. Hope Casey made a mental note to pick up LeBron James full-court next time and make it difficult on him. Not very impressed with Casey’s coaching in big yet simple moments.

(*Writer’s note: There’s a reason it’s in quotation marks ;)

Jordan Bellant: His hire sends a message that we’re trying to make the current situation work. It makes sense given the cap situation. This is our team for the next two seasons. I think Casey gives us a shot to be a playoff team.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: The party line seems to be this group didn’t really have a full chance to see what they could do last year, and that’s a fair point. So I wouldn’t expect the Pistons to do much this summer. Although that’s hard to say confidently when there is not currently a General Manager. This team, man.

David Fernandez: I’m not sure about the “big three” staying in tact, but I do believe this was a win-now move. Casey isn’t here for a rebuild, and has already stated that this team is focused around Griffin. I am hopeful that Andre Drummond remains a Piston, and this team figures out its spacing.

Lazarus Jackson: I think that there was a understanding to at least see what the grouping of Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond is capable of, and go from there. The Pistons still have no General Manager (yes, they’re helmed by Ed Stefanski, but still), so I wouldn’t expect changes to occur on the roster until that is taken care of. And even then, the Pistons have until the trade deadline to see how the players perform for and under Casey.

Justin Lambregtse: I think the reasoning behind this hiring is that he is the biggest name on the market and a veteran coach who is more of a “win-now” coach. Tom Gores loves him some big names.

Steve Hinson: No, I don’t Casey would have taken the job with a mandate like that. In his early years with the Raptors, he was saddled with Rudy Gay by Bryan Colangelo (or was it Bryan Colangelo’s wife?). It was only after Masai Ujiri was willing to trade the talented franchise cornerstone away for an underwhelming package that the team finally gelled and made the playoffs. Casey has seen what happens when a team values productive contributions over talent that doesn’t contribute to wins. If a talented member of the team’s three core players isn’t willing to do what’s necessary to contribute to a winning environment (stares directly at Andre Drummond), I think Casey brings the credibility to force a trade.


Those are our thoughts? How about yours?

Please copy/paste the questions and shoot us your answers below.

1. Dwane Casey....where does his hire rate on your scale from 1-10?

2. If you could predict based on his coaching acumen one major positive shift from the SVG days what would it be?

3. Do you think that part of his hire was an understanding that he would try to make the current “big three” work or do you see changes possible before the start of next season?