One of the few unqualified bright spots for the Detroit Pistons last season was the play of third-year guard Svi Mykhailiuk. Obtained in a trade deadline deal of Reggie Bullock, Mykhailiuk took advantage of every opportunity given to him.
Always blessed with accuracy and a quick trigger, Svi played more than 1,200 minutes last season and became one of the league’s top 3-point shooters. As the team lost more players to injury, trades and the waiver wire, Svi played big minutes and also got to work on other parts of his game.
The 22-year-old was one of only 15 players league-wide to shoot more than 250 3-pointers, dish 100 assists and shoot better than 40% from deep.
He enters his third season the prohibitive favorite to start at shooting guard for a Pistons team that will desperately need his perimeter shooting, but his starting spot is written in pencil, not pen, if head coach Dwane Casey has bothered to write it down at all.
Casey could also turn to Delon Wright, a player he knows well from his Raptors days to serve as a second point guard on the floor to help take pressure off of rookie Killian Hayes, who is likely to start to begin the season.
He could also turn to veteran Wayne Ellington, a more proven 3-point threat with nearly 10 years on young Svi. Casey could also surprise everyone and embrace the defense and long-armed switchiness of Josh Jackson.
For his part, Mykahiliuk says he’s not sweating it and only focused on working on his game.
“Becoming a better defender, a better leader, and just a better overall defender,” Mykhailiuk said. On defense, Svi said the work comes from learning more about where to be on the floor and working on his positioning, but that he’s come a long way going into his third year.
“I feel like people trust me and saw the work I did and keep doing,” Mykhailiuk said.
It’s an open question what Casey is looking for in that shooting guard position in the starting lineup. With the added talents of Jerami Grant and a healthy Blake Griffin, Mykhailiuk might need to take a step back and focus primarily on being that catch-and-shoot 3-point threat that opens up the floor for the big men and for Killian Hayes to drive.
Or he might be asked to provide that secondary ball handling and playmaking that helps takes pressure off of a rookie point guard. He could also be asked to play big minutes off the bench where his versatility and ability to play multiple positions can be maximized.
However Casey wants to play his extremely new, much longer, much more versatile lineup remains to be seen. But Mykhailiuk will surely be a big player this season and could see his minutes go from 22 per game to closer to 28 or 30. As one of four returning players from last year’s team and a scant 59 games under his belt as a Piston, he’s already an elder statesman.
It’s a role he’s taking in stride.
“We’re going to help [the new players], and they are going to help us. And we’re going to have a really, really good team moving foward.”