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DBB Mailbag: Wing Rotation Edition

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Answering your Twitter questions during the dog days of summer

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I’m going let y’all in on a secret - the mailbag is a GREAT way to solicit stuff to talk about when you don’t know / don’t have stuff to talk about. We serve the mighty and voracious #CONTENT gods (lowercase g) here at DBB, and they must be satiated, even during the dog days of the offseason.

I will probably do this a few more times during the offseason, but I solicit my responses on Twitter (@lazchance), so you should follow me if you want to participate. Alternatively, we can go back and forth in the comments - your call, really.

With that said, let us get to your questions:

Thanks for the question, Joe! (COME WRITE SOMETHING FOR DBB, JOE)

At this time, it seems likely that the wing rotation will be split between Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, and Glenn Robinson III. An injury to any one of those players (Bullock has a history of injuries in the NBA - last season was the first where he played more than 50 games) likely propels Langston Galloway back into the rotation, and further injuries elevate Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas, in that order.

As for wing starters versus bench, I continue to advocate for starting Kennard and GRIII together next to Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond. I fully acknowledge that Bullock and GRIII are probably a more balanced overall pairing - however, Luke Kennard is your long-term answer at shooting guard and Reggie Bullock likely will not be a Piston next year. The time to get Luke starter reps is now.

By the way, the numbers on the Luke-Blake-Andre threesome were encouraging last year, in a sub-100-minute sample:

I’m just saying.

Next question:

Thanks for the question, Brenden!

If Langston’s on the cap sheet and collecting checks, he exists.

Langston’s in a tough spot - he did not play well last year (only shot 34 percent from three, and four out of his six shots a game were threes), but he was also yanked around in terms of minutes and role. When he was signed, he was ostensibly insurance against another Reggie Jackson injury. When the year started, he was a backup guard in three-guard lineups with Ish Smith and Luke Kennard. When Reggie Jackson actually got hurt, he was given a single chance by the coaching staff to be the backup point guard and flubbed it.

In response to his flubbing, the coaching staff stopped awarding him regular minutes and his shooting numbers careened off the side of a cliff and exploded like a highway chase scene.

Fortunately, Langston is not THAT bad a basketball player, can provide shooting in the three-guard lineups I think Dwane Casey will be compelled to try at points during the season, and, as mentioned earlier, is veteran injury insurance for Reggie Bullock. He can have a role on this team.

Also, it would also behoove the Pistons to play him so he displays enough value to be a positive asset in a trade.

Next question:

Thanks for the question, Westen!

Oh, Stanley, Stanley, Stanley. As the younger, more highly touted prospect, it’s easy to say that Stanley has a higher ceiling than GRIII, and that might still be the case. The thing that has always been enticing about Stanley is the court vision contained within his strong-as hell body. The idealized version of Stanley is a terror - able to make teams pay in transition with his physicality and in the half-court with his passing. The idealized version of Stanley Johnson is a lowercase-s star in the NBA.

The realized version of Stanley runs often into trouble when trying to make plays for others because his sub-par dribbling ability (he cannot use his off hand at all - reminiscent of Brandon Jennings in that way) limits his ability to force a defense to react to him. This is why Stanley appears to be at his best in transition - the defense HAS to do something about him barreling down the court at full speed. His sub-par shooting ability means that if he does not have the ball, the defense barely has to account for him, which is why Stan Van Gundy was always on him to be a more active cutter.

The idealized version of GRIII, on the other hand, is still a role player. He’s not a guy you ask to create shots for himself and others. However, the idealized version of GRIII fills so many gaps across a team - knocking down open threes, defending well across multiple wing positions, rocketing off dribble handoffs for layups, even crashing the offensive glass every once in a while - as to make himself invaluable, the type of role player literally every NBA team is looking for. The idealized version of GRIII gives you what Trevor Ariza provided the Rockets last year - and Ariza got the love letter treatment from the NBA’s best writer during the postseason.

And the realized version of GRIII is closer to his idealized version than Stanley Johnson is - GRIII is already a knockdown three-point shooter from the corners, already an impact rebounder, has a burgeoning DHO game, and I am legally obligated to mention that he won a Dunk Contest.

So, to recap: Stanley has a higher ceiling, but a lower floor. Glenn has a lower ceiling, but a higher floor. Also, GRIII is closer to his ceiling than Stanley is as of the last time we watched both of them play in the NBA.

As currently constructed, the Pistons just need a high-floor guy, which is why, despite his higher potential, I think you’ll see Stanley come off the bench this season.

Next question:

Thanks for the question, person I’m sure is a licensed medical professional!

The Pistons mailbags, like the beat writers themselves, all have their own distinct flavor. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press likes to answer questions about food around Detroit and Game of Thrones. Rod Beard of the Detroit News loves to answer questions about hip-hop. James Edwards III of The Athletic likes to stick fake trades in his mailbags. Keith Langlois from Pistons.com answers a ton of lineup-related questions.

I don’t have a favorite, but I will say that Vince Ellis is usually the most selective with the quality of questions he deems answerable, and Keith Langlois is the least (Keith has all the patience in the world - some of the questions in his mailbag would get you muted on Twitter from me).

Thanks for the questions, everyone. We’ll definitely do this again soon.