Stan Van Gundy’s vision is coming to fruition to kick off the 2015-16 campaign for the Detroit Pistons.
Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova have both earned starting roles for the team and have made the most of their opportunities early on. Both players are threats on the offensive end of the floor and from the long-line, giving the Pistons’ starting lineup the kind of spacing they have desperately been searching for.
Head coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy has been building this team to resemble his teams with the Orlando Magic, which made a Finals appearance led by superstar Dwight Howard.
His Magic teams liked to up the tempo, shoot a lot of three-pointers and work the ball down low to their talented big man to create easy offense. That blueprint is being followed in Detroit as well, starting with talented young center Andre Drummond, playing Dwight Howard’s part of dominant big man.
Van Gundy has also surrounded Drummond with more than able three-point shooters to kick the ball out to when double-teamed in the post with the likes of Jodie Meeks, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova and Reggie Bullock. He also added budding star Reggie Jackson to slash to the paint and create opportunities for his teammates. Early on this season, his plan has worked to perfection, coming off of two wins to start the year.
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Ersan Ilyasova is coming off some injury-riddled seasons that limited his production and playing time in Milwaukee. But he has played his role brilliantly starting both games at power forward for the Pistons. He has shot well thus far, averaging 50 percent from both the field and the three-point line, being a reliable scorer and role player for Drummond and Jackson to differ to.
Although these averages are not likely to stay this high throughout the course of the season, it is a promising start. If Ilyasova is able to shoot around his career percentage of 37.1 from the three-point line, the team will see continued success on that side of the floor with their new, desperately needed space to run their offense. While he may not have the biggest role on offense, his skills are an asset to this team moving forward.
Marcus Morris has seen his minutes and shot attempts jump in his first year in Detroit, proving he doesn’t need his twin brother, Markieff, to be successful. He has started and played at least 35 minutes both games, showing the NBA what he has to offer.
Morris has been a reliable scorer and a viable three-point threat, putting up 16 points a game thus far. Morris’ ability to create his own offense and put the ball in the basket consistently are a big part of the Pistons’ 2-0 start this season. He will be the x-factor to this team’s success moving forward.
If he is able to be a third or fourth option shooting the ball and scoring somewhere in the teens each game, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson will be able to be more selective in the looks they take and not be forced to carry the entire load offensively.
Oct 27, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons guard
(5) dunks in the second quarter of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Third-year player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has also shined early this season, scoring all over the court and shooting a great percentage from beyond the arc.
Although KCP has shown flashes of his ability to score the ball in the past, he has not been able to consistently put together his game to be a reliable threat for the Pistons in his two years in the league. Caldwell-Pope has potential to be one of the great perimeter defenders in the league with his length and athleticism, as well as being a promising player on the other end of the court.
Moving forward, the Pistons have a lot of exciting young talent to develop and grow together as a unit, hopefully leading them to more success and a playoff berth in the near future.