Bruce being gone is a dagger. I know that we were losing, it was short and stuff, but it was a fun ride Bruce!!! We all enjoyed these smart, not rushed but showing irresistible willingness to contribute plays. And that type of defense is just poetry for every Pistons fan. You were great, thanks and all the best!!!
And now we have Džanan Musa. Well, you can get excited about this 21yo player, but it’s tough when you get him in a trade that sends Bruce out of Detroit. Ok, so at least let’s try to note some cold facts.
Musa is a young player on a good contract (both years left on his rookie deal are team options), Bruce is already 24yo and might be in line for pretty hefty extension next year.
Bruce is more a Westbrook-type P&R slasher (as we can see probably most evidently in those highlights of one of his last year Summer League performances) and we don’t have personnel and, apparently, offensive philosophy for such a player. Dwane Casey likes his playmakers to play more creatively within more loose schemes to find biggest holes in defense and best chances to score. They tried Bruce as playmaker in that system, but Bruce was chocking a little trying to probe the lane from different angles and in different situations without reliable J. It’s just not his game.
Musa on the other hand showed in G-League that he can playmake to DC’s likening. As a serious three point threat (he made 1,8 triples on 41,2% clip) he is closed out hard which gives him possibility to penetrate the arc against collapsing defense. At 6’9’’ he’s also skilled P&R player. As ball handler he can run P&Rs in a way that creates various advantages inside the arc not, like in Bruce's case, with speed but with advanced dribble, which could give more time to make more comprehensive reads and choosing better scoring opportunities. Not without significance here is also that he’s able to drive or pass with either hand. Beside his competency with the ball, the newest Piston can also create advantages playing off ball. Finally, although he doesn’t show to have a pull up game developed extensively yet, by making 3 out of 7 pull up treys (apparently they overlook one) in 12 games, he showed that he has grown so far some solid foundations from which further progress can be expected in this area.
However to make full use of his skills, especially those on ball, Džanan needs to cut his turnovers. Last season he had 0,95 AST/TO ratio. This means a considerable fall from 1,33 ratio he had two seasons ago. As we can see here, though various as they are, his TOs seems to come to one, well maybe two, common denominators: some lack of cleverness specific to his young age and scarcity of pull up game. Since the cleverness, as we know, should come with time and the pull up game, as we discussed above, has solid foundations to come, that problem may be solved. And this would be another encouraging aspect of his development. Because other than this turnovers question, Musa has been developing very well in G-League during his two season there. He significantly upped his efficiency: last year he had 58,7 EFG% and 69,5 TS% compared to 51,3 EFG% and 55,9 TS% two seasons ago. In this domain, he should make some work on his effectiveness from non-restricted area in the paint – his 27,8FG% there was again a considerable fall from what he had two seasons ago, and was well below the league average. Additionally, his above the break triples and shots at the rim could also be a little better as they’re slightly lower than the league average. Džanan is also developing as a solid rebounder. His year to year REB% went from 8,7 to 12,3.
On the other end of the floor, the newest Piston has promising footwork on on-ball defense to show. Judging by his BLK% and STL% numbers, he rather won’t be a beast down low or in the passing lanes, what’s to be expected with his negative wingspan. But if he’d be able to keep up with ball handlers, he won’t be a defensive liability.
These are the signs of interesting and useful player for modern NBA. Yes, he showed them in G-League, not in the NBA. But at the stage of his career he’s at, what he does in the minor league is more indication of who he can be in the major league than what he actually has done in it. Thus, as Sean suggests, there might be some serious upside in this kid. In other words, if you’d search G-League looking for next Kendrick Nunns, Džanan Musa is one of better candidates you’d find. Nevertheless losing Bruce is still a dagger. I guess it’s the Pistons way to develop through such painful growing pains.