We all know that Summer League performance is not a large determining factor in how players look during the regular season - as my podcast co-host Ben Gulker put it, if summer league mattered, Austin Daye would have been a Hall of Famer. With that said, now that it’s over, it’s good to take stock of what the Pistons did and did not look like during their six games in the Las Vegas desert.
So we asked our esteemed DBB writers the following questions:
What was the most discouraging takeaway for the Detroit Pistons this summer league?
Justin Lambregtse: How bad they were offensively. Nobody could shoot, and I’m not sure if it is because they picked a bad roster, or if everybody just went cold at the same time.
Steve Hinson: Injuries. If Luke Kennard is going to be aiming for the starting shooting guard spot, and if Khyri Thomas and Keenan Evans are looking for chances to see the court, they’re going to need to stay healthy.
Christopher Daniels: Not that I was expecting Dirk Nowitzki 2.0, but Henry Ellenson’s offensive woes definitely were not what I had hoped for from a third year, first-round draft pick who everyone is talking about having a much larger role this year.
Ryan Pravato: Lack of consistent offense and lack of consistent shooting by nearly all of the players. Khyri Thomas shot decently in the games he played in, and so did Reggie Hearn after a rough beginning, but most everyone else stunk it up from the perimeter. Injuries were also discouraging, but they are not necessarily the fault of anyone. Would have been interesting to compare Keenan Evans to the other rookies and to see Luke Kennard stroke some jumpers.
Lazarus Jackson: The lack of defensive progression from Henry Ellenson, who still looks lost on defense every time he has to move his feet. Henry was getting lit up and bullied by the likes of Christian Wood, to say nothing of what Jaren Jackson Jr. did to him for 40 minutes. Henry just needs to be passable on defense to perhaps sneak into the regular-season rotation, but his lack of change-of-direction athleticism, combined with his inattentiveness on defense, make that a dim possibility.
What was the most encouraging takeaway for the Pistons this summer league?
Justin Lambregtse: The play of Bruce Brown. He shot poorly the last couple of games, but looked comfortable running an offense, which could be beneficial if the plan is to eventually make him a point guard. He could get to the rim and just looked like an NBA athlete.
Steve Hinson: Khyri Thomas seems to have a lot of the traits you look for in a guy who may be able to be a contributor coming out of the second round. Solid speed and athleticism along with a consistent three point shooting stroke.
Christopher Daniels: The most encouraging takeaway was that it was summer league and one isn’t supposed to overreact to either good or bad performances. That’s pretty low on the encouraging scale but...
Ryan Pravato: Bruce Brown Jr. displayed many intriguing moments, further confirming that the guy is probably going to be a big part of the backcourt in a year or two. Seven-footer Johnny Hamilton played quite a bit in the last two summer league games and asserted himself nicely. He’s pretty mobile, has great length and seemingly has a nose for weak-side blocks and rebounds. He’s 24 years old and is just coming off his last season of college eligibility (like Zach Lofton) so I’m not sure how much interest there is for Hamilton and the thought of how much actual potential he has. However, if you can help an NBA team then it shouldn’t matter what age you are -- 24 is hardly an old man’s age!
Lazarus Jackson: Bruce Brown looks like an excellent depth piece right now with the potential to be much, much more. His athleticism, tenacity on the glass, and just general intensity has me very intrigued as to what he could be in a year or two. His outside shot (both catch-and-shoot and off movement) isn’t where you’d like it to be right now to be in the rotation, but he seems very cognizant of what he needs to improve on. For right now, it seems that his selection at 42 was a good one for the new Stefanski-led front office.
Did you prefer the Orlando Summer League or the Las Vegas Summer League? Why?
Justin Lambregtse: Las Vegas. There were games on ESPN, so it is easier to watch, and people actually seemed to care. Orlando always seemed to be an afterthought to most people.
Steve Hinson: For this year, I don’t think there was really any difference. But long term, I think getting everyone together in one spot makes more sense. It makes it easier for reporters to cover, makes the games more accessible to be televised (though they still need to improve services for cord cutters), and creates just one destination for veteran players to come to support the youngsters.
Christopher Daniels: Las Vegas. There seemed to be more and better attention on the games and the coverage seemed like NBA-light rather than the “local access rec league” feel of Orlando coverage.
Ryan Pravato: Las Vegas - all the teams participate in one location and it’s a bit easier to follow that way. The playoff format is nice and brings a little excitement (especially to degenerates like some of us on DBB) before a completely dead period of about two months or so.
Lazarus Jackson: I liked the Las Vegas league better - getting to play a wider spectrum of teams and getting a look at more players is more interesting from a viewer/consumer perspective. Having a playoff bracket for everyone was good, but I DID miss puppy points. Having all 30 teams in the same place at the same time also appeared great from a networking perspective - I know I’m going to be saving some money for a trip to Las Vegas next year to get out and meet other basketball people.
Alright, DBB, what did you think of the Pistons in summer league? Give us your answers in the comments below.