Stan Van Gundy is in complete control now. As the President of Basketball Operations of the Detroit Pistons, he chooses what players to sign and what players to release. He has the power to trade players away.
His philosophy as a coach will inform these personnel decisions, so Van Gundy will be able to tailor players to his system. This is rarely the case for coaches, who usually have to tinker their system to fit the existing players.
What to expect?
As Tony Fischer wrote in an earlier article, expect major roster turnover. Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey, and Greg Monroe are three major rotation players that are free agents. As none are known to be defensive forces, expect Van Gundy to let them walk. Villanueva in particular will be a deal Detroit will be glad to have off their books.
What other players might be looking at the door?
Van Gundy is also known for not tolerating players with ego. Many remember the situation in Orlando, where relations between Dwight Howard and Van Gundy went incredibly sour. It went so far as Van Gundy telling the press he knew Howard had pushed management to fire him.
Another instance of bad player relations occurred when Van Gundy’s former player, the famous Shaquille O’Neal, called the coach a “master of panic” who could’t win in the Playoffs.
What does this mean for the Detori Pistons? Expect some clashes between players and coach. It means Van Gundy won’t tolerate Josh Smith chucking up bad threes, and if the latter continues to do so, expect Smith to be on the trading block.
Another interesting dynamic will be between Van Gundy and Brandon Jennings. Jennings is the sort of dynamic playmaker the coach loves (see how he utilized Dwayne Wade in Miami), but Jennings is another whose body language isn’t always stellar.
Who else on the roster can help Van Gundy turn the Detroit Pistons into a contender?
Andre Drummond appears to be a major piece going forward, and Van Gundy is known for building his teams around strong big men. Drummond is already a defensive force, and hopefully he can develop a back-to-the-basket game. If he can, there will be a nice inside out dynamic between him and Jennings.
One thing the Pistons have needed is outside shooting to space the floor. One of the reasons that Jennings and Drummond pick and rolls aren’t more successful is because the defense can collapse to the middle of the floor.
Statistically, the Pistons’ best shooter from three was Jonas Jerebko, and he only attempted one a game. Kyle Singler was the main gunner, shooting 38% on three attempts a game.
The rest of the three point shooting was abysmal, with Jennings and Smith as the main culprits. Other teams didn’t have to respect the Pistons from deep. Van Gundy will have an opportunity to pick up a shooter, perhaps in the draft. Players like Gary Harris, Doug McDermott, and Nik Stauskas would all be solid picks to help spread the floor.
Whatever he chooses to do, Van Gundy is solely responsible. He has never missed the Playoffs, but it could be argued that the general managers he worked with gave him a great roster to work with. Van Gundy has his work cut out for him, because the Pistons do not have a playoff roster. The new coach has to adapt to his new personnel, and it will be his responsibility to get new players.
My Prediction: Van Gundy the General Manager fires Van Gundy the coach after one season to keep with Pistons’ tradition. Just kidding, but I have no idea. I just hope he’s around for more than a couple seasons.