The Detroit Pistons are, frankly, a mess on offense. They currently sport one of three sub-100 offensive ratings in the NBA and sport the worst shooting in the entire league. There are several familiar suspects when people try to pin the blame on Detroit’s offensive woes. Dwane Casey and his offensive philosophy creating poor looks, getting plenty of open looks and simply missing them, too many players going rogue and resorting to isolation ball, and an overall lack of talent.
Every single one of those reasons is fair, and a mixture of all of them certainly share some of the blame. After watching the games more closely for the last week, I wanted to add one more thing to the list that is often under-discussed — errant passes setting up players for failure.
For me, putting a pass exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there is an under-appreciated skill in basketball. It falls in the same area as ball and eye manipulation to move a defender to make the pass you want. Why do I value it so highly? It makes the shooter’s life easier and the defense’s life tougher. When talking about shooters like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, it probably does not matter where the pass is placed. But for a team like the Pistons with a mixture of all of the aforementioned struggles? It can be a matter of life or death, in a basketball sense.
When I played D1 basketball, I feasted on catch-and shoot standstill opportunities, and the accuracy of the pass was vital to my success and efficiency as a shooter. A pass right into my shooting pocket that allowed me to stay in rhythm and get the shot off before the defender could recover was huge. Where did an off-target pass lead? Simply put, nothing. This is what we are seeing on multiple possessions a game from the Pistons. We see the defense collapse, the right read made, an open shooter AND ... an off-target pass that leads to either a contested shot OR no shot at all.
It’s not just about taking away shots either, with every off target pass you lose the entire rhythm and flow of the offensive possession. I think we can all agree that rhythm and flow is something this offensive is lacking and, yes, we could point the finger at multiple suspects, but the lack of accurate passes is definitely contributing.
I highlight this aspect of the Pistons offense just from the Kings game in the breakdown below.
By no means am I saying that this one area is going to suddenly solve all of the Pistons’ issues on the offensive end, but I truly believe that if they could improve here we would see a much improved shooting percentage AND offensive flow in general. Something I will definitely keep my eye on moving forward.