Welcome to Film Don’t Lie: The Definitive Video Breakdown of the Detroit Pistons. For more on this comprehensive video series, please see our intro post. In short, I broke down hundreds of hours of video, analyzing how the Pistons did against each team in the Eastern Conference.
Boston won three-of-four against Detroit.
With the addition of Kemba Walker, and the subtraction of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, the Celtics’ offense will have a new car feel with an old car smell.
The recognizable part of Boston heading into next year will be the play of their still-developing wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and nine-year vet Gordon Hayward, who, on opening night next October, will be two years removed from his gruesome leg injury.
Boston typically integrated Tatum out of this Stack look:
The set has multiple variations and adjustments, but getting the ball to Tatum in an advantageous position remains a simple objective.
Brown, on the other hand, bruised Detroit defenders into the spots he wanted:
Both player’s box score numbers were rather pedestrian against the Pistons, but they didn’t need to be anything special to secure wins.
Among other unfortunate defensive quirks this season, Detroit didn’t have the athletic height or strength in space to hinder guys like Brown and Tatum’s path to the hoop:
Recovering on penetration becomes a futile endeavor when you’re giving up six inches in height:
Langston Galloway has no chance to recover once Hayward locks him into position on his inside hip. It was the story of the season against capable offensive wings.
Detroit simply had to get bigger on the wings this summer.
The Pistons tried to address a lack of length on the wing by trading for Milwaukee’s Tony Snell, who will be able to put his 6-foot-7 frame to immediate use:
Snell clearly isn’t a game-changer, but he undoubtedly raises the team’s defensive credibility.
Boston wings hunted the mismatch against Detroit and tried to capitalize on every possession deemed favorable. Post-switch, Gordon Hayward went after the big fellas too:
In hoops, a boomerang pass is one that quickly goes back and forth between two offensive players, but for a very specific reason.
Below, after the Celtics recognize a (perceived) mismatch, Hayward sends a boomerang pass to Tatum. For Hayward, doing so allows for a fresh dribble and the ability to attack off the catch:
Most bucketgetters would rather begin an isolation possession off a pass rather than a stale dribble.
Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should scare Pistons fans, but I’d like the DBB Book of Records to reflect the following:
If we’re only talking about the upcoming 2019-20 season, it’s Gordon Hayward that will deliver the body shot that no one sees coming against not only the Pistons, but the entire league. Call it blogger’s intuition.
Defending the wing will remain a talking point for the Pistons as they head into next season. Thankfully for Detroit, other than Boston, the league is experiencing a drought of talented wings.
Despite the addition of the great Tony Snell, if the Pistons are to reach their ceiling next season (which is way-the-fuck higher than 35.5 wins), someone else on the roster must step up and help safeguard the perimeter.
The only player whose skill set allows for such defensive development on the wing is Bruce Brown. Hold your enthusiasm, though, Brown is still on the smaller side (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) to be consistently checking larger threes and smaller fours, but he can hold his own for a spot possession here or there.
The 22-year-old can move his dogs to stay with most of the NBA’s ones and twos:
And is durable enough to absorb the infrequent contact f5rom the more brutish players:
With the way the league continues to trend, the importance of developing Brown is critical to Detroit’s present and future.
Bruce Brown can already slide with way too many ones, twos and threes. If he adds the standard 15 pounds of pure muscle this offseason, a few fours might be next. His switchability is something the Pistons desperately need: pic.twitter.com/D43xUDL4vv— Mike Snyder (@M_James_Snyder) July 2, 2019
For Brown, the defensive end seems to be the easy part.
Detroit’s 2018 2nd-round draft pick shot a pinch under 26% from three last season, struggled to convert around the rim, and doesn’t spend much quality time in the mid-range. Needless to say, there is work to be done:
A peel back, or late-switch, is employed more out of necessity than choice. It’s essentially a back-up plan for when there is no hope for the on-ball defender to recover from a ball-screen.
Below, Friend of the Program Wayne Ellington is screened off by another FOTP, Marcus Morris. While switching assignments with Blake Griffin wasn’t the initial plan:
The peel back became the plan in real time.
The big fella tries to make up for it on the other end, though.
After getting completely turned around while contesting the catch, Andre Drummond’s recovery deserves another look:
Dre jumps on these no-juice-having passes like a Deion Sanders sitting on an out route:
The seven-foot DB is baiting and waiting.
Blake v. Kyrie
The Celtics felt comfortable switching everything during Game 2, often times leading to Blake Griffin defended by Kyrie Irving:
Team’s begin to plot against the switch by sending a ghost screen (also called a dummy screen) to do nothing else but manipulate the matchup they’re seeking out.
Below, Reggie Jackson’s on-ball screen is effectively a ghost screen as, if nothing else, it ignites the mismatch:
When Griffin realizes he’s in an opportune position to score, I’d love to see him act a bit more decisive upon receiving the ball. On too many possessions all of last season, the offense clogged down after the rock was dumped into Griffin because he took his sweet time to survey the entire court, and seemingly the audience as well.
Instead of waiting for the double-team to make an appearance, a little more urgency will make a world of difference. Kind of like this:
Get to the basket before the help arrives.
How much has basketball changed over the past 20 years?
The fastest way to get pulled from any game when I was growing up would be to hoist a three during an offensive fast break. Fading to the 3-point line on the run, however, is how the game is played these days.
As a 37-year-old, I can’t help but think where I’d be had I enjoyed this type of offensive freedom instead of being shackled in high school. Maybe I’m in the league? Overseas at worst. Sadly, we’ll never know. Kids experience too much fun these days:
See, coach, I wasn’t a “habitually bad shot-taker,” just ahead of the analytical curve.