Langston Galloway does one thing, and he does it really, really well. He. Gets. Buckets. That wasn’t enough for former head coach Stan Van Gundy, who grew frustrated with his gunner despite the fact that he was convinced to sign him to sign him to a three-year, $21 million free agent contract.
Van Gundy is gone as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, and I think that new coach Dwane Casey is a coach that is willing to give Galloway the fresh start he needs. Casey’s history with the Raptors and his comments since becoming head coach indicate he is ready to put Galloway in position to succeed and become a mainstay in the Pistons’ rotation.
First it is worth thinking about why things went so wrong for Galloway in year one with Detroit. Galloway was signed in Detroit for his 3-point shooting ability and to serve as point guard depth. After spending the first few years of his career as a point guard who wasn’t really a great distributor, Detroit seemed to crack the code by shifting him to point guard and just asking him to bomb 3s.
Van Gundy, however, grew frustrated with the feast-or-famine nature of Galloway’s 3-point shooting, and when Detroit’s point guard depth was tested by an injury to Reggie Jackson, Galloway was asked to play point. It didn’t go well. In fact, it went so poorly that from that moment on Galloway was pretty much banished from the rotation.
Why is this year going to be different? Casey has used every opportunity to talk up the need to boost Detroit’s volume of 3s. He also seems much more likely to live with the occasional downs for the long-term benefit of confident, quick shooting. Casey allowed the combination of DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakim to shoot 605 3s last year despite shooting a collective 28.26 percent from deep. Casey knows the value of 3-point shots and isn’t going to yank people’s minutes or complain about shot selection if the buckets aren’t going in.
For a player like Galloway, confidence is king.
There is also less congestion at the guard spots with Avery Bradley, Dwight Buycks gone. With a full offseason to figure out how to integrate the point-big man abilities of Blake Griffin, Galloway could find himself a fixture of a bench unit.
Imagine this scenario – Andre Drummond is the first big off the floor shortly followed by Reggie Jackson. Suddenly, Griffin is the Pistons’ point guard surrounded by a small-ball lineup of Galloway, Bullock and Jose Calderon flanked by Stanley Johnson as a ball-handling power forward or Zaza Pachulia as a screen setting big man.
Also, with Griffin on the floor Detroit doesn’t necessarily need a traditional point guard on the floor. This would allow Galloway to spend some time at point guard, allowing him to defend point guards while not having as much pressure to be the primary ball handler.
During Galloway’s 2016-17 season, he shot 42.3 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s, and throughout his career has hovered around the 40 percent mark from 3 on wide open looks. Galloway can be effective if he has the right talent around him and is being asked to play the right role on the floor. Last year, that didn’t happen.
The Pistons have plenty of question marks at both forward positions, and it could motivate Casey to move to a lot of 3-guard lineups. The good news for Detroit is that they have a wealth of mix-and-match pieces at the guard spots. Jackson, Kennard, Bullock, Galloway, Calderon and Smith all have skills, and Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas are good developmental pieces. That’s a good mix of young, old, shooting, ball handling and slashing. Casey’s job is to make it all fit together.
Galloway seems like a great contender to be in the thick of the guard rotation thanks to his shooting ability.