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Film Don’t Lie: Encouraging play from the young Pistons

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The kids are the future.

Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

In their last tilt before the All-Star break, the Pistons lost to the currently eighth-seeded Orlando Magic in overtime. There were more than a few good signs from the young Pistons in this one. It was one of those close, very competitive games where you wanted the kids to grab the win but knew they probably wouldn’t. Everything turned out tank-tastic for the moment. The kids will get a few wins eventually, but until then:

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Sekou’s offense has been a tough (or nonexistent) watch for weeks. If you're looking for a silver lining though, at least against Orlando, his effort and awareness on the defensive end was present. Sekou’s eyes met with Michael Carter-Williams’, as he’s aware of the tunnel vision that Carter-Williams had for James Ennis fading to the corner.

Sekou does his job in this next play. Things are made simple by the fact that Sekou’s man Gary Clark is not particularly known for his outside shooting — even then, Sekou, by being in active help position (see the ball see your man), rather easily swiped Carter-Williams.

Svi Mykhailiuk, first game back from a five-game absence, had some positive moments on both ends of the court in 18 minutes.

He’s shown this season, for the most part, his defensive instinct for reading the offense and being able to know where the ball will go a half-second before it happens.

Svi rushed a few shots in Orlando and didn’t quite have his “game legs” either it seemed, but this was a patient look. Svi knew the clock situation and knew he had more than enough time to pump fake to buy himself a cleaner, less rushed look. It was an attempt that, even with Svi’s successful pump fake, was still under mild duress.

Svi usually doesn’t force shots — yours truly would like to see Svi “force” a bit more often — so sometimes it’s a blurry line as to whether Svi is stepping outside of what he’s capable of. Should Svi be ultra-aggressive more often with the ball in his hands? Or rather, should he take the ultra-Tony Snell approach and primarily let the game come to him? I don’t know if we know enough yet, as Svi is still very much in the development phase. In any case, one could reliably say that, as of right now, Svi is an opportunistic penetrator, and that’s what we have here. Being opportunistic suits Svi well for the time being. Svi does nothing special, he just attacks a slightly out of position and flailing Ennis. Khem Birch is too late on the help and Svi takes advantage. Also, special shout-out to Thon for the yell there too!

In the four games since Andre Drummond was traded, Thon Maker has scored in double-figures three times and is 5-of-12 (41.6%) from downtown. Though, as we know in these parts by now, Thon’s rebounding numbers leave a lot to be desired. For a 7-footer with a nice wingspan and fairly decent athleticism (and a good motor to boot!), rebounding shouldn’t be such an issue for the 22-year-old. In 27 minutes against Orlando, Thon’s only two rebounds were on the offensive end. Here’s one of them. Thon’s motor is usually fully charged, however, Thon needs to focus on making things easier for himself. In this one, I don’t know if he corrals the rebound cleanly. If he did, then there’s no need for a dribble, as you’re just asking for trouble bringing the ball back down. Get the rebound (and gather yourself if needed) and go up strong.

Thon was everywhere in this possession. He hedges perfectly, makes his length work for himself (twice) and positions himself well. As others have written on DBB lately, Thon is certainly showing he has a place in the league. His confidence is growing and who knows where that will take him. When we get mad at Thon, let’s remember he’s just 22.

Prior to the season, I actually got something right: I wrote that Christian Wood would shine this season. And wouldn’t you know, it’s happening. Prior to this season, I watched an obscene amount of film of Christian’s time with the Pelicans from last season, so this wasn’t exactly a shot in the dark on my part.

This season Christian’s been showing that he’s much more than the fringe NBA player that he’s been known as since 2015-16. Christian has been given an extended chance and he has stepped up and delivered. Christian has always displayed touch around the hoop, and is playing the game at his own speed more and more over the course of the season — it’s a lethal combination for someone as talented and as long as Christian.

Wood went to open space and called for the rock in open space. He got the rock. Sometimes basketball is easy like that. Sure, perhaps Wood was confident that only a single defender would check him. He was correct, and even better that 6-foot-6 Wes Iwundu was that defender. Advantage, Wood — all day every day.

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Overall, the kids are showing what they are made of during this very early period of the rebuild. Of course, in the many, many months (read: seasons) ahead there’s going to be lots of downs, but there’s also going to be lots of ups. The rest of this season will be an exercise in patience, so let’s try and be good to ourselves and focus on the ups.

Welcome back to real basketball, everyone.