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What Trey Lyles brings to the Pistons

He might have been an uninspiring signing, but he also checks a surprising amount of boxes for the Pistons’ offense

NBA: Detroit Pistons at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons’ offensive system is based on movement of both the ball and players, and requires having multiple playmakers. There is freedom within broadly-sketched schemes, and quick decisions are a must. That means even players at power forward need to know how to keep the ball moving, and that’s just the beginning.

Casey’s request of his forwards is simple: be able to shoot, play off the dribble, score on all three levels, be able to post up, create for others, move without the ball, run in transition– in a word: everything. Casey developed one such forward during his Raptors tenure in Pascal Siakam. Currently, in Motown he has helped to untap such a skill set in Jerami Grant. He’s also working hard to mold the “piece of clay” known as Sekou Doumbouya into such an all-around player (the work has yielded some encouraging results in Sekou’s successful rookie campaign in the G League, less encouraging results at the NBA level).

Recent free agent addition Trey Lyles isn’t necessarily a threat to Sekou’s development, it’s more an acknowledgment of two things. First, that developing all those skills to the point they can be productive at the NBA level takes time (at Sekou’s current age, Siakam was only finishing his freshman year in college), and the youngster might need a little more time, perhaps a time encompassing extensive stint(s) with the Motor City Cruise. Second, until Sekou is ready, Troy Weaver and Casey want to have someone more substantial playing behind Grant.

Trey Brings Treys on Offense

Ok, turning now to substance. At the beginning let’s get one thing straight. Trey Lyles isn’t gonna explode and turn out to be next Jerami. But nobody is asking that or expecting that from him. He is simply asked to consistent bring the things he has already showed he’s capable of doing.

The most obvious skill Lyles brings is his ability to shoot the long ball.

In three of his six seasons in the NBA, Lyles has been an above-average 3-point shooter. As you can see, Trey likes shooting when he’s open and wide open. Which happens to be in sync with the Pistons having a few young and one veteran playmakers that like to create those kind of shots for their teammates. The new Piston will make the job easier for them as he’s eager to help ball-handlers by creating passing lanes with his active movement on perimeter.

When a defender closes out, he is able to attack.

Even though those are rather straight line drives (though we can find among them also such a rarity and other pull-up jumpers), he has enough coordination and nice touch to finish them effectively when defenders try to recover.

He also has decent vision. If one of his teammates find themselves in a better position to score, he’ll hit him with precise pass.

In both putting the ball on the floor and passing, Trey doesn’t mess around, last year he was 29th in the league in turnover ratio.

Lyles is solid cutter as well. Inside the arc, his active movement creates passing lanes and makes it easier for ball handlers to find him. As the film shows, his nice touch is very helpful.

He can also be productive in transition.

That doesn’t mean that Lyles will be a major part of the Pistons’ rotation, or that he is a part of the Pistons’ future. But this coming season, he can take advantage of open opportunities and the things Lyles brings to the table, in turn, should be enough for this offense to properly complement the efforts of the various ball handlers on the team. If his long ball remains consistent, he’ll provide Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Jerami Grant, Cory Joseph and Saben Lee space for their own penetrations, or as a secondary option for an assist on a bucket. And his ability to attack, pass or cut will aid the ball and player movement that Casey prefers.

Trey on Defense

Regarding Trey’s defense, well, again, he won’t be at the core of Pistons schemes on that end. His defensive metrics aren’t conspicuous (except his DRB%, which is elite), and he doesn’t have mind-boggling athleticism (though he has nice physical tools: 6-foot-9 with 7-foot-1.5 wingspan, 234 pounds). But again, he shows an aptitude for a scheme Casey prefers — he can switch on defense.

In the following clip, you can see Lyles being quite quick, able to fight through screens, have active hands and awareness on rotations.

This should be helpful in Casey’s switchy defense. It also helps that he can stand his ground against posting bigger bigs.

However, less encouraging in this context are mistakes in on-ball defense in P&Rs.

So are issues with closeouts.

He needs to be better in those situations, which he can, as he shows here… but he needs to deliver consistently if he wants anything close to consistent minutes.

So Lyles might supplant Sekou in the rotation, at least initially. But Doumbouya is either going to get fed minutes in the G League or in the NBA. And Lyles will be a short-time stay on his two-year deal for just $2.5 million per season.

What he will do is serve as a competent shooter to help Detroit’s youngsters as they develop and look for less congested paths to the rim. Whether Trey will be able to contribute all this will depend, however, on gun working hard to become consistently able to show the skills he has shown in fits and starts in the first few seasons of his career.