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DBB Mailbag: Andre Drummond the sniper, Blake Griffin insurance in the form of *gulp* Jon Leuer, and Bruce Brown love

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Andre Drummond shooting threes, rookies in the rotation, and waxing poetic about Tobias Harris

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

This was a fun week in Pistons Twitter, from Blake Griffin feeling old, to the “Five Words” social media chain letter making the rounds, to some Detroit basketball legends talking that talk at the annual National Association of Black Journalists convention, which is in Detroit this week.

And then, of course, there was Andre Drummond playing up his 3-point skills at Team USA minicamp, which sent offseason DBB into a tizzy (400+ comments and still going). I wonder if we’ll have any questions about that in this week’s Mailbag?

Thanks for the question, Shameek.

It honestly depends on how well he shoots them. I brought up Jonas Valanciunas earlier this week as a guy who began shooting threes this season to the tune of one per game at a 40 percent clip - but as fellow DBB editor Steve Hinson pointed out, JV is a career 79 percent free throw shooter who had been shooting a number of long twos for years. Maybe more comparable to Andre is Dewayne Dedmon, who went from attempting a single three in his first four years in the league to shooting 2.3 threes a game at 35 percent this past year. Dedmon clearly made strides as a shooter, going from a career 67 percent average from the free-throw line to 78 percent this past season in addition to the 3-point shooting.

Andre, as we all know, went from a 38 percent free-throw shooter to a 60 percent free-throw shooter in a single offseason, after completely tearing down his routine and building a new one. It’s not insane to think that Andre could shoot a good percentage from three on a limited number of (wide-open) attempts after multiple offseasons of work on his jumper. If you plopped me in the second row of Dwane Casey’s bench, I would give Andre 75 judgement-free 3-point attempts this season, see how well he shoots on them, and go forward from there (closer to Valanciunas than Dedmon). If he shoots 20 percent on them, it’s fine, it’s less than one shot a game, close the case file. If he shoots 40 percent on them ... we can build some stuff around that [editor’s note: Laz will be “randomly” drug tested soon, I assure you].

Related question from DBB’s own Mike Snyder:

Thanks for the question, Mike.

I would take total games played by Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson (they played 103 games total last season, not a healthy season for either guy) over Andre Drummond 3-point attempts (hopefully in the 75 range). I wouldn’t feel good about it, though - so I’d hedge with the Pistons under, because if Dre shoots more threes than Blake and Reggie play games, the Pistons aren’t hitting 40.5.

Next question:

Thanks for the question, Joe.

The answer to your first question is “Nothing.” The Pistons don’t have the space under the luxury tax, the draft capital, or the talent pool to attach much of anything to either of those guys.

For the Pistons, Jon Leuer has positional value. Detroit currently only has him, injury-prone Blake Griffin, and unready Henry Ellenson at power forward. Leuer also has the larger, more unwieldy contract and played fewer games than Galloway last season, so I expect his trade value is lower around the league. For now, at least, the Pistons are stuck seeing if Leuer can return from ankle surgery healthy and return to being only slightly overpaid on that contract, like he was in 2016-’17.

Langston Galloway, on the other hand, has much less value in Detroit because now the Pistons have three or four other shooting guards (depending on how you feel about Bruce Brown long-term) on the roster. I maintain that Langston could help a team that needs shooting off the bench (Minnesota sans Jamal Crawford? Oklahoma City as a Alex Abrines who can be trusted on D?), but trades are tough because the Pistons are (understandably) operating like the luxury tax is a hard cap. You could try to involve a third team, but then things get convoluted.

For now, the Pistons look to have both of those guys on the roster to begin the year.

Next question:

Thanks for the question, Matthew.

I would say Bruce Brown, whose ostensible skills are less duplicated across the roster. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Reggie Jackson suffers another injury, soon-to-be-37-year-old Jose Calderon has nothing left in the tank, and the Pistons are compelled to try rookie Bruce Brown in the Dwight Buycks role.
  • Reggie Bullock suffers another injury (last year was the first time he played 50+ games), and Khyri Thomas, in his rookie year, proves to be a better shooter and defender than either of Luke Kennard or Langston Galloway.

Which one of those scenarios sounds more likely to you?

I hope neither happens and neither rookie is called upon to be a part of the regular rotation, but it’s easier for me to imagine a world where the Pistons need shot creation from their backcourt rather than just catch-and-shoot ability.

Last question:

Thanks for the question, fellow human (it’s the internet, I don’t want to assume genders and whatnot).

This would’ve been a much more interesting question this time last year, when Reggie had only been injured once as a Piston and Tobias Harris didn’t eclipse 35 percent three-point shooting. As it stands right now, though, with the league’s voracious appetite for quality shot-making and shooting on the wing alongside a glut of decent-to-good guard play, I think you trade for Tobias Harris over Reggie Jackson every time.

Along those same lines, I think it’s fair to say their contracts won’t be equal in the future - Reggie will probably not get another contract averaging as much $16 million a year, while Tobias has already (correctly) rejected a contract extension averaging $20 million a year in favor of more. So, with the consideration that Tobias will stand to make a good deal more than Reggie on his next deal... I would still take Tobias.

This gets misconstrued because of my analysis of the Blake Griffin trade, but I loved Tobias Harris when he was in Detroit. I wrote a season preview about how he should lead the offense. I was ecstatic at his vastly improved perimeter shooting. I thought he, like Reggie in 2015-16, would have been an All-Star had he played in a media market that gets more national shine.

That’s it. No “But...” No caveat. Tobias Harris was awesome as a Piston and I hope he gets CRAZY paid next offseason.

Apologies, I did not get to everyone’s questions this week, but you can always hit me up on Twitter to ask me stuff. We’ll do another mailbag shortly, I’m sure - I appreciate the questions, which have been great.