Detroit Pistons: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to play for a starting role at forward

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NBA preseason is here, and the regular—if atypical—season will begin in a few short weeks. The Detroit Pistons may have a new look this year, but they will have at least one familiar face in Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.

With 59 games played dating back to February of 2019, it may be hard to believe but Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has the second-longest tenure with the Detroit Pistons. Only Blake Griffin has been on the team longer and played more games.

Mykhailiuk has thus far survived the culling of players this offseason signifies he should have more of a role this season—which could include starting small forward. The Pistons acquired Mykhailiuk from the Lakers where he was averaging close to 11 minutes off the bench.

Head coach Dwane Casey brought him off the bench as well until he began starting in December. Since then, Mykhailiuk averaged over 25 minutes per game, starting 27 games for Detroit, frequently as a shooting guard.

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Before then, he rarely saw more than 18 minutes. Now that Delon Wright slots in better at shooting guard and Tony Snell is an Atlanta Hawk, Mykhailiuk will likely shift up to the three, his natural position.

If Mykhailiuk is to continue getting meaningful minutes this year, the Pistons will have some expectations. First, he will have to keep shooting (and making) threes. His 40% rate from three was the best on the team last year, and he will have to make up for Snell, Luke Kennard, and Langston Galloway.

At 5.1 three-point attempts per game (8.1 per 36 minutes), he should be able to account for their absences.  Expect Dwane Casey to encourage even further development in this department. To complement Mykhailiuk’s three-point shooting, he should attempt to get more free throws this season.

Compared to players like Danilo Gallinari and Bojan Bogdanović, who play roughly the same position and attempt and make about the same amount of threes, Svi falls far short of both in free throw attempts. Not that one can specifically train to draw more fouls, it would rather be a byproduct of more aggressive play.

Speaking of more aggressive play, the Pistons will also seek to get a bit more out of Mykhailiuk defensively. The Pistons were not great defensively last year (22nd in the league in defensive rating), and Mykhailiuk was a net minus.

One way he could improve this is by securing more defensive rebounds. Granted, he is not playing in a position to be a primary rebounder, but with his 6′ 7″ size, he should be pulling in more than he is.

Last year, Svi collected fewer than 2 rebounds per game (and fewer than 3 per 36 minutes). Both of these marks were among the lowest on the team. If the end of last season was any indication, Dwane Casey intends to use Mykhailiuk more this year.

General Manager Troy Weaver seems to agree, considering he elected to send the more established small forwards (e.g. Kennard, Snell) to other teams. To that point, Mykhailiuk is one of the lowest cap hits on the team, so his production has the potential to be a great value.

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If Mykhailiuk can meet or improve on his level at the end of 2020, he will play his way into the starting lineup for the Detroit Pistons.