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Film Don’t Lie: Pushing the pace could help jolt Pistons offense stuck in neutral

I dive into the film from the past two games to see what we have seen from Detroit’s offense in transition

Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If there is one thing that all fans can agree on right now it is that the Detroit Pistons offense has not been good. In truth, it’s been flat out BAD through nine games. While plenty of blame has been placed at the feet of the team’s woeful 3-point shooting (and rightfully so), I wanted to look at another area of the Pistons’ offense that fans are not talking about nearly enough.

You might think that being one of the youngest teams in the league and playing fast would go hand in hand, but so far we have not seen that from Dwane Casey and young Pistons. Currently, the Pistons rank in the bottom third in pace, according to ESPN. I did not embark on this breakdown to “pound my fist on the table” for playing faster. Instead, I want to take a closer look at what the Pistons have shown in transition so far, and I want to question if that is something that could truly help jumpstart an offense stuck in neutral.

I ended up breaking down two unique parts of transition. The first will be what I call “secondary situations” or any situation where the offense did not have numbers, immediate advantage or what most would call a traditional fast break. The second will be those fast break situations and seeing how the Pistons have fared.

Secondary Situations

If there was an area of transition for the Pistons offense that I did walk away from wanting to see more, it would be those secondary situations. What I saw when breaking down these two games was an offense that looked vastly better when pushing the ball up the floor and IMMEDIATELY getting some sort of pre-determined action OR just aggressiveness looking to score. That doesn’t mean the team should be racing the ball up the floor and shooting within 8 seconds. However, the possessions I watched looked far better when the ball was not walked up the floor and instead the team got into some action early in the possession. Possessions where the ball stalled out front seemed to turn into something approximating an isolation or a shot with far less rhythm and flow. I highlight both in this video breakdown.

Fast Break

It doesn’t take a brilliant analyst to understand that getting into fast break situations often relies on playing quality defense. In almost all of these scenarios, you will see a quick change of possession created by a block or steal. This is something I feel like we have seen the Pistons do at a good rate so far this season. The defense is creating these opportunities, but in the two games I watched for the breakdown, the offense is not converting those opportunities into points at the rate that you would hope. For me, this can be credited to a lack of spacing in these situations and poor passing.

As I said to start, I did not come into this with the concrete mindset that I emphatically thought the Pistons were missing the boat by not playing faster. Did I think that it would make sense if they did and feel they had some personnel it would benefit? Yes, but after reviewing the film, I think some of the fault does lie with the players. Finishing plays at a higher rate in traditional fast break opportunities would help give this offense a jolt. I would love to see a continued emphasis on being aggressive in those early secondary situations as well.