While there are still open questions about the makeup of the front office and the coaching staff, one thing was made abundantly clear at Dwane Casey’s introductory press conference at Little Caesars Arena — everyone feels like they have a winner on their hands.
Owner Tom Gores talked about how impressed he was by Casey’s pedigree, work ethic and ability to relate to players. Casey talked about Gores’ vision, and how clear it was that he cared for his team and his community. And Ed Stefanski talked about how they have all the pieces in place to succeed.
“We’re not developing, we’re not two or three years away. Our time is now,” Casey said about expectations for this squad.
When running down what excited him about his new team, he was quick to mention the three big pieces — Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. But just as quickly he moved on to the next tier, and said it was the young players who would define how successful the team is going to be.
“The key this summer is our young guys,” Casey said, naming Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson.
About the team’s potential to not just make but advance in the playoffs, Casey name dropped Griffin and Johnson specifically.
“Stanley Johnson is the best matchup for 23 in Cleveland that there is.”
The biggest piece of red meat thrown out to the “blog boys” of the NBA was Casey’s unequivocal embrace of needing to get smarter and more efficient on offense.
“We have to get up more threes. We have to play more of an analytical game,” he said.
Gores teasingly called Casey, known as an old-school coach, a “modern man” early in the news conference, and Casey acknowledged while it didn’t come easy he changed his outlook because it brings results and, crucially, wins.
“It’s about wanting to win more than anything else. You have to adapt. You have to adapt in this league or you die. I feel like I did that the last three or four years in Toronto, adapting to the NBA game, and that’s what we’ve got to do here. And we will do it,” Casey said. “And that was the main topic we had last week with the players is making sure we understand the shot spectrum, the efficiency of shots that we want to take and how we want to play.”
Casey also talked about the need to flesh out his coaching staff, but that there was already a handful of development coaches working with several Pistons players in Los Angeles, and that he would work to identify and hire assistants in the near future.
Not much light was shed on the makeup of the front office other than Stefanski is the “leader” of the front office, and is, therefore, the de facto president or GM alongside Arn Tellem.
Not much was discussed about the draft other than to make it pretty clear that the Pistons weren’t in the financial position to purchase a first-round draft pick, and that they are confident they have done their due diligence and are ready to draft at No. 42.
I have a feeling the one-on-one interviews Casey, Stefanski and maybe even Gores do will be much more illuminating. I hope so, anyway.