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The basic blunders are sinking the Pistons

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Sure, they’ve dealt with injuries and played poorly on defense, but the Pistons need to revisit their fundamentals to get back on track

Detroit Pistons v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

There isn’t one specific reason for the Detroit Pistons’ struggles.

It’s not JUST the injuries to key players like Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose. It’s not JUST the team’s rugged early-season schedule, which has seen them play the most games in the NBA. Heck, it’s not even JUST their porous defense.

It’s the basics — the fundamental aspects of basketball — that are killing this team on a nightly basis. The Pistons haven’t been a well-coached team thus far, but these are correctable mistakes that Dwane Casey and Co. can fix.

I think.

Rebounding

It’s truly incredible that the roster with Andre Drummond, the greatest rebounder of his generation, is tied for last in the league in rebounding at 42.1 per game. Seriously, all you’ve got to do is look back to the play before the play that sunk the Pistons against the Hornets last week:

Drummond, having the best rebounding season of his career at 17 per game, got beat on the box out by Cody Zeller, allowing Zeller to get a hand on the ball to keep it alive. That shouldn’t be a death sentence, but for this team it is.

Trouble started with Luke Kennard on the opposite side of the key as he was beaten badly by Cody Martin. Drummond, as great as he is, can’t grab every board.

Listen, I know Kennard is never going to be a great rebounder. The problem is that was an effort and awareness play. Know the position you’re in on the floor. Don’t assume that Drummond is going to suck up every board, especially when he’s battling another really good rebounder.

All it takes to keep Martin off the boards – or draw a foul on him being uber-aggressive – is to box out. Kennard didn’t do it and we know how the rest went.

This team, outside of Drummond, is rebounding at a career-worst rate. Blake Griffin, deteriorating as a rebounder with each passing year, will eventually be their next-best rebounder, but for now Markieff Morris fills that role.

Morris is second on the team in total rebounds (53) and rebounds per game (5.1) … which is bad on its own. What makes it worse is that Drummond has more offensive rebounds (60) than Morris does total rebounds.

I mean, by rebounding percentage, Thon Maker has been one of the best rebounders on the team. That’s all you need to know.

Ball Control

I’m going to keep harping on this: that Hornets game was bad.

It was a perfect example of why Detroit is sitting with a 4-9 record. They shot well, defended poorly, got beat on the boards and turned the ball over. Fixing the defense isn’t easily correctable, but rebounding better and taking care of the ball are.

Maybe Rose should start being “more selfish” when he’s tasked with deciding the game late?

The Pistons are third in the league with 17.5 per game. They give it away in dead-ball situations. They give it away in live-ball situations. They’re the Oprah Winfrey of Turnovers in the NBA.

YOU GET ANOTHER POSSESSION!

YOU GET A FASTBREAK CHANCE!

YOU GET AN EASY STOP!

YOU GET THE BALL!

Matt Moore of The Action Network summed it up perfectly:

Dead last in the league in opponent points off turnovers per 100 possessions. Detroit has given up the most points off opponent steals in the league. Not just turnovers, but live ball turnovers killiing them.

Per possession off turnovers, 9th-highest allowed. https://t.co/cidtSqoOnX

— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 16, 2019

And again here:

Whew, Blake’s averaging 7.1 turnovers per 100 possessions in the two games back. Derrick Rose is averaging 6.7. Drummond 5.5.

— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 16, 2019

Part of this is familiarity on the court. Griffin has played two games this season. His inclusion in the lineup changes everything for every player on the roster. Drummond, as well as he played in Griffin’s absence, was probably doing too much with the ball which is why he turned it over so much.

And same for Rose. The Pistons needed somebody to score and, in the early going, that was Rose’s job. I think the Drummond and Rose turnovers will come down as Griffin takes over command of the offense.

I think Griffin’s turnovers will come down as he gets more acclimated to playing with some of the new Pistons and, as much as people love to hate this, the turnovers will slow down once Reggie Jackson is back.

There are a lot of things about Jackson’s game that could be better, but the dude takes care of the ball. He’s smart with where he passes, who he tries to set up. He knows his limitations these days, and that’ll help.

Solution?

It starts with the players, but it includes Casey.

The Pistons on-court chemistry is lacking, I’m not sure that’s something a coach can snap his fingers and fix. Their defensive principles are probably similar to last season, but the execution is lacking. That’s on Casey.

Some part of the defensive struggles may be the turnovers. Live-ball turnovers lead to offense for the other team. You’re giving up easy baskets when you’re careless with the ball. Nip those in the bud and the defense may regress the right direction.

It can’t get much worse.

The problem here is a commitment and focus on the little things.

The Pistons have a coach who loves to talk about the importance of, “playing the right way.” He’s finally got his team scoring and shooting the ball like he wants... except everything else has fallen apart.

The Pistons are playing the wrong way. Here’s the hoping they figure it out.