Five Things to Look Out For as Pistons Start Training Camp

Five+Things+to+Look+Out+For+as+Pistons+Start+Training+Camp

The Detroit Pistons’ quest towards another playoff berth begins Tuesday as training camp starts. Coming off the team’s first postseason appearance since 2009, the Pistons will look to improve on a previous season where they squeaked into the final playoff spot and were swept by the eventual NBA champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coach and president of basketball operations, Stan Van Gundy, had a quiet offseason as no major moves were made nor flashy picks selected in the draft. Gone are Spencer Dinwiddie and Jodie Meeks, but here are point guard Ish Smith, forward Jon Leuer and center Boban Marjanovic, who are all additions from free agency.

In the draft, the team selected 19 year old big man Henry Ellenson from Marquette with their first pick, and Michael Gbinije out of Syracuse with their second. Neither is expected to make an impact this season.

Expectations for the team are higher this season, and there are certainly some things to look for going into this year. Below are five things followers of the team should expect to command attention this season

1. Drummond’s free throw woes.

It certainly is not a secret that center Andre Drummond struggles at the charity stripe where he shoots an abysmal 38 percent. If he was to retire today, he would have the worst percentage of all-time. Reports from the team are that Drummond uses a virtual reality machine that simulates him making free throws. Though this will certainly build confidence, the hope is that he is practicing attempts in real-time. Though the NBA changed the “Hack-a-Shaq” rules this offseason, the team will benefit from an improved showing at the line for the young center.

2. Who leads the team?

Because the Pistons have one of the youngest rosters in basketball, there is not a lot of veteran experience to be had. Drummond has yet to show signs of leadership, and point guard Reggie Jackson is still finding his way as a starter in this league. Forward Marcus Morris has said it is his duty to assume the leadership role, but he has not seen extended amounts of postseason play. It will be interesting to see who Van Gundy names as captain as this will most likely come from the actions the players show in camp.

3. Will Reggie take the next step?

Jackson had a solid first year with the Pistons where he averaged 18.8 points per game to go along with 6.2 assists. He was apart of the great pick-and-roll duo with Drummond. However, he often dribbled the ball too much, which stalled the offense. He also had a tendency to turn the ball over, evidenced by his 2.6 turnovers per game. Jackson’s clutch play earned the team some wins, but Van Gundy would much rather have the team in end of game situations with a larger lead, rather than close margin. If Jackson takes the next step in becoming a better point guard and potential leader, this team could be an Eastern Conference contender.

4. Stan the Man?

No, this is not about Van Gundy. But rather his young up and coming star, Stanley Johnson. The wing player showed flashes of being a great player last season, as he became pivotal in the playoffs. He had a lot of confidence in the playoff series last year and he certainly showed that, never backing down to LeBron James. Johnson said he has worked on improving his jumper and if it has, this will make Johnson’s game that much stronger, as well as give the Pistons another scorer.

5. Does Detroit take advantage of the East?

The Pistons could see a bump in wins this season if they take care of business. The Eastern Conference saw minimal improvement from the bottom teams. The top is dominated by the Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors. But, Detroit should be able to move into the top four in the East, as the only improved teams look to be the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

The Pistons’ first exhibition game is Oct. 6. They will open the regular season in Toronto on Oct. 26.