I guess you can’t make two steps ahead without making a step back. Just when the Pistons made a front office move perhaps in the ranks of making Joe D PBO to get Motown another ship in no-time, one of their important coaches is on the move. On the same day our team hired a GM "who has a knack for talent" in Troy Weaver, we lost one of coaches with a knack for developing talent. Donnie Tyndall, who coached Pistons affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, will become the headman of NJCAA program at Chipola College. We wouldn’t be so excited about appointment of Troy Weaver if we didn’t think he’d find appropriate replacement, but I think as Pistons fans we owe coach Donnie an appreciation for what he has done for our team while working with its affiliate.
And he has done a lot in his sole season with the Drive.
He provided Sekou with the opportunity to make first basketball steps in America. And what steps they were! Under Donnie’s tutelage, Sekou showed a versatility on both ends we didn’t expect him to be able to show this quickly. Most of us thought that our rook was raw, but on Donnie team he turned out to be advanced driver (and here), passer, shooter (and here, and here), post up player, transition player and a player who can take over games. All this in addition to being advanced, versatile defender.
Jordan Bone had played under the shadow of his teammates in college. He cast a shadow on the entire G-League when he played for coach Tyndall in his first year as a pro, making clutch plays in game’s crucial moments.
Remember a shy, skinny kid whose alleged immaturity problems cost him (very high) position in the second round of last year NBA Draft? Of course you don’t, because Donnie put this kid in situations where he could gain confidence easily (for instance, by beating two former first round picks in one play). So when the kid stepped on the bigger stage all you saw was a confident player. Yea, Louis King was another player that blossomed under Donnie Tyndall.
Donta Hall showed some intriguing threads playing for Alabama. But only in Donnie’s team he became Montrezl Harrell type of scorer around the rim who can always find numerous occasions to make baskets off of P&Rs, lobs, dump offs or pocket passes. Matched with some Big Ben type of hustle and no-fly-zone plays, it earned him a place in the big club. Donnie Tyndall was the first to tell him that.
It was also Donnie’s Grand Rapids Drive where we could see what current Detroit Pistons basketball wants to be about. Due to injuries and the decision to go into rebuild, the big club wasn’t able to show us a lot of proper execution of offensive and defensive schemes. In contrast to this, the Drive ran the schemes very smoothly, as we can observe in these instances of excellent ball movement or defensive rotations.
For all this, thank you very much, Donnie. It was pleasure to watch your Drive play, and watch you make them play the right way with the use of some unorthodox methods like trying to take charge from your own players or allowing your assistants to outgrow you twice to rise to the challenge. You’ll be missed in Grand Rapids basketball. But I understand you want to be back with college basketball: man, you’ve really got a knack for developing young players! Wish you all the best in this (old-)new chapter.