After knocking off the rust in the first preseason game, the second contest for the Detroit Pistons was decidedly better. Defensive rotations and communication were tightened up, and we began to see a glimpse of some chemistry on the offensive end of the floor.
Those improvements sparked a 99-91 win over the New York Knicks.
The unquestioned star of the night was Sekou Doumbouya. The second-year forward was decisive on the offensive end and wreaked havoc defensively with his effort and length. It was very much reminiscent of his early-January surge at the beginning of the year. He consistently found open space off the ball and made his opportunities count. Given that he’s likely to spend most of his time off the ball this season, watching him execute so well was encouraging.
Sekou’s energy resulted in 23 points on 11 shots, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Also impressing was rookie point guard Killian Hayes who whipped passes around the court leading to four assists, while adding six points and five rebounds. Hayes looked much more comfortable than in his debut and took care of the ball well as a result. The shooting wasn’t there, but it’s way too early to worry. He also displayed some chemistry with Blake Griffin, which is something to watch moving forward. If that continues, Troy Weaver’s asking price for Griffin will go up in exchange for losing Blake and risking stunting his first draft pick’s development.
Griffin and Derrick Rose have made it clear they’re ready to go for the regular season and would benefit from resting to give the younger guys some more repetitions. Josh Jackson and Delon Wright both made nice rebounds from poor first performances and looked like they can provide some value to the rotation moving forward.
Jerami Grant, on the other hand, continued to struggle in his new expanded role. It’s obviously far too early to pull the plug on that experiment but Dwane Casey will want to see a lot better execution from Grant if he’s going to have such a large role offensively.
The established talent in the Motor City might not be great, but they appear to have a collection of players who are work hard on the court and have the potential to be fun to watch this season.
Some stray thoughts:
- Sekou had multiple good takes while attacking closeouts, something to watch moving forward.
- Hayes showed some major defensive chops on the ball tonight, particularly when guarding RJ Barrett.
- Josh Jackson made some great passes tonight, something that could help keep him on the floor.
- Isaiah Stewart sure is fun to watch when he’s crashing the boards. He was made to be a Detroit fan favorite — He also got ejected after an exchange with Nerlens Noel in the final moments of the game.
- Mason Plumlee punishes defenders with his screens which should help Killian Hayes’ development a lot.
- There’s no reason Wayne Ellington should be anything more than a 12th man on this roster when it’s healthy.