With Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards, the Detroit Pistons brief preseason is over.
So, what have we learned about this team? They probably aren’t going to shoot the ball well, and because of that they aren’t going to score efficiently. It’ll be fun to watch, but it won’t be pretty. On the other hand, they might actually be a good defensive group, one that’s pesky every night.
For me, though, two things stuck out:
GOOD: THEY HAVE SIZE AND ATHLETICISM ON THE WINGS
Success in the NBA is predicated on how good you are on the wings. You need to be long and athletic at shooting guard and small forward. Those tall, bouncy players with good size who can contribute on both ends are invaluable.
The Pistons finally have a semblance of that with Jerami Grant, Svi Mykhailiuk, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, and Josh Jackson. Grant has had his ups and downs, of course, but we know what he can bring to the table. Mykhailiuk has shot the ball well, albeit in oddly limited minutes. Bey struggled, but appears to have the trust of the veterans as a rookie, and Doumbouya has looked more capable of playing on the wing than he did last year.
But it’s Jackson who has really opened eyes.
The Detroit native had an uneven start to the preseason, looking out of control with the ball and forcing things against the Knicks in the opener, but in the past three games he’s really come alive.
Jackson finished the preseason averaging 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds, shooting 14 of 25 overall and 9 of 16 from 3 over those last three games. He’s played more comfortable and isn’t solely hunting for opportunities, which was a problem in his Suns days.
There are some fun lineup possibilities for Dwane Casey when Jackson is playing well.
Imagine a jumbo lineup of Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Sekou Doumbouya, Jerami Grant, and Blake Griffin? It’s the kind of grouping the Pistons haven’t been able to trot out there in a longgggg time.
BAD: KILLIAN HAYES IS GOING TO HAVE SOME GROWING PAINS
Now, this doesn’t mean that Detroit’s other Large Adult French Son is a bust or anything. It just means he’s not quite as ready to roll as we may have hoped. Hayes has made some really savvy plays this preseason, but he’s not quite up to speed scoring the ball himself.
He slashed just 28/22/88 over four games, averaging 7.8 points, 3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3 turnovers in about 22 minutes per game. He’s proven adept at getting into the heart of the defense, but he just doesn’t look comfortable trying to score yet.
The good thing is Hayes is going to get better as he gets more minutes. He’ll learn to better leverage his massive size advantage against smaller guards, and his shot is going to come around once Griffin takes a bigger hold of the offense when the games matter.
What are your biggest observations, both good and bad, from the preseason?