The season hasn’t even started yet, and Detroit Pistons fans are already getting hit with bad luck.
Pistons superstar Blake Griffin is reportedly out until at least the first week of November with hamstring and knee issues. Not good.
But, the Motor City isn’t going to just stop chuggin’ along! The show must go on.
And the stars of the show should be changed up a bit.
The starting lineup with Griffin will consist of Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Tony Snell, Griffin, and Andre Drummond. It was a bit of a debate during the offseason who would start at shooting guard between Brown and Luke Kennard.
Casey decided, and many agreed, that a starting lineup with Jackson and Griffin doesn’t need another ball-handler but needs an elite defender who can work off the ball instead.
That makes sense, and even the most hardcore Kennard fans (Sup, Eli) would have to agree this not only makes the most sense for the Pistons but probably the most sense for Kennard.
However, with Griffin now out for the near term, Casey needs to adjust to maximize what he has to work with.
Jackson, 29, is no longer the player he once was. If you want any proof of this, just watch this video of his game against the Chicago Bulls three years ago. He’s regained some burst and improved his jump shot, but the days of Jackson carrying the Pistons offense himself are behind him.
As much as Jackson has pulled someone like myself from being a hater to a fully appreciative watcher of his game, his explosion is diminished and he’s now a different kind of player.
And while much has been made by this writer about Drummond potential improvement as a playmaker, it’ll be in the Pistons best interest to use Drummond’s passing in the flow of the offense; not the key that jumpstarts it.
With Brown in and Glake out of hte starting lineup, the Pistons two longest tenured players will be asked to carry too much of the offensive load and everyone is going to suffer. Markieff Morris was a good buy-low option but he’s certainly no Blake replacement.
The only player on the court who can successfully create for himself and his teammates would be Jackson, and that’s too much to ask of him to carry.
In Griffin’s absence, Casey and the Pistons should be looking to move fan favorite Kennard and his shooting into the starting lineup.
Such a move might seem like a no-brainer. In fact, it’s something Casey did last season.
Casey correctly realized this against the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs when Griffin missed the first two games and Kennard was moved into the starting lineup.
Kennard played very well in that series (he was just about the only player who did), averaging 20.0 points on 51% from the field and 72% from deep in the two games as a starter.
At media day, senior adviser Ed Stefanski made sure to mention to everyone in attendance he thought Kennard was probably the Pistons best player in that series.
When Griffin returned in game three, Kennard was brought back off the bench and Brown come back in to start.
Casey has exhibited the capability to read that situation and obviously understands with Griffin in the lineup, the Pistons need more ball-handling and shot creation in the starting lineup.
It should be no different during these first handful of games without the Pistons superstar.
Casey already confirmed that Brown will start the Pistons opener against the Indiana Pacers, but hopefully this will change moving forward.
Last year, the argument was the bench would be even worse without Kennard orchestrating the offense, which was completely fair.
The Pistons have Derrick Rose now, who will be perfectly capable of running the second unit with Kennard starting.
The roster is better suited to survive a short period of time without Griffin, but Casey must optimize the roster correctly to take advantage of the improved roster.
Hopefully, Casey will revisit this situation after the Detroit Pistons opener.