Season Check In. 10 games in. 5-5.
So the season is already 10 games old. 1/8 of the way through the season. It is still early, but it is enough to look at the team and make some judgements. I will essentially go through and look at the team in much the same way as I do with my game recaps, just instead of a single game it will be for all 10 games so far.
And here is a link to Vorped where you can find shot charts.(just search the player you want a shot chart for and select "shot chart" I use that site for all my shot chart needs.)
(I do not want to have to worry about linking in everything over and over again.)
Reggie Jackson: It is actually a little bit funny. If I was just checking in now and had not been watching I would be thrilled with the stats Reggie is putting up. 20 points on pretty good efficiency. Shooting a not great but certainly decent 34% from deep. Not a good assist to turnover ratio but that will get better right? But since I have watched the games, I am fully aware that the turnovers are not necessarily just something that will go away. Reggie often makes just plain bad decisions on the court. There is no other way to put it. And it culminated in the last game against the Lakers where he was benched to close the game in favor of Dinwiddie. With that said however, it would be wise to not forget some of the other stats, or his often really good defense. He is still pretty easily the teams second best player behind Andre Drummond, and he is asked to do a ton. I would also like to preach for a certain amount of patience. Even though he had the end of last season, as well as all offseason to adjust. Jackson is still a young player in a totally different role. Remember that in his time in OKC he rotated between playing hero ball on bench units, and standing in the corner watching Durant and Westbrook. The thing I like to point out is that with OKC last year his highest played lineup (by some margin) was Anthony Morrow, Nick Collison, Kendrick "moving screen" Perkins, and Jeremy Lamb. Anthony Morrow can shoot like hell obviously. But that is not exactly a fearsome offensive lineup. And also, he is not super young, but he is still 25, and is in his 5th year. Obviously this is the time where a guy starts to shape into the best version of themselves, but he is not some veteran. He is still scoring super efficiently around the hoop, and he is canning enough jumpers to keep defenses honest most of the time. It will take some time, but the Pistons have a really good coach with a reputation for crafting Point Guards. And the last thing to remember is how new this team is. Almost everyone on the team is either brand new to the team, in a new role on a team, or super young, or all of the above. And Jackson is being asked to orchestrate them. The roster does not have much familiarity. This is what I mean when I say that he is asked to carry such a crazy burden. Everyone on this team is trying to find exactly what their role is and the best way to execute that role, and Jackson is one of the people in a new role. And yet he is asked not just to try and figure out his new role, he is asked to orchestrate everyone else into their new roles and help them feel it out. And the main reason why I have faith Jackson will turn it around and be awesome in the long run is because I think he really is a good player. He is just asked to carry a big load. He is 8th in the NBA in usage rate, everyone else around him are legit superstars on their teams. And it is clear that he took it upon himself to play good defense this year which is super encouraging to see.
KCP: KCP is off to a awesome start, and a not so awesome start in different ways. Lets start with the not so awesome. He has kind of been shooting like crap in the young season. Just 40% from the field, and only 29% from 3. He also has made literally no progress as a passer/facilitator as he still averages just about 1.5 assists to just over 1 turnover per game. Those are straight up bad numbers. 29% from 3 is almost unacceptable from a guard in todays NBA. Obviously there is good reason to believe that he will raise his shooting percentage, but it has been an issue that needs to get better. The one thing to keep in mind though, is that he really struggled with his shot his rookie year, (39% overall. 30% from deep) and then managed to raise it to barely competent levels last year. (40/34.5) Obviously most guys improve off their second year, but it would be foolish to assume he will just automatically shoot over 35% from deep this year. And he was streaky as hell last year too. There is not a ton of work for him to fall back on and assume he will pull himself out of the slump. Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about the good. HOLY DEFENSE. KCP showed flashes of being a really good perimeter defender in his first two seasons, but he was still prone to all the things young defenders are prone to. (dying on screens, closing out to hard/to weak, falling for pump fakes, fouling, etc.) But this year it would appear that it is time to stop thinking of how good he could potentially be on defense, and talk about how good he actually is on defense. Outside of Jamal Crawford (which I assure you, KCP is not the first good defender who Jamal has made look somewhat foolish in a game.) he has absolutely locked down his guys every single game. Stephen Curry even said (to Anthony Tolliver over dinner) that KCP gave one of the best defensive efforts on him he had ever encountered. KCP is not big enough to be a true all around wrecking ball in the style of the Sharktapus or Paul George. But he can lock down either guard position and keep it under control. And in a league with so many good point guards, that is a really valuable guy to have. But wait, there's more! There are also some positives to take away from his offensive start. He has shown a certain amount of ball handling and inside game that he has not had before. He actually can score inside a little bit, and is drawing the occasional foul. Both things he could not do with any competency last year, and he is fully capable using a pick to get a open jumper and hitting it. Provided his shooting starts to come around a little bit more he will be a killer role player this year. And while it is not a guarantee that his shooting will come around, I think it probably will. Although that really should be a "I has too." Because there is no one else to play SG for extended minutes on this team. If KCP cannot find his shot it will mean trouble for the team. So start praying he does.
Greater Morris: He has also had a good and bad start to the year. Start with the bad again. He is (wait for it) shooting kind of like crap so far. (This is going to keep up as a theme) Just 38/27. (that is overall from the field first and 3pt second in case you did not know) The one thing about this is that he has a couple things to his poor shooting start that KCP does not. First off, his shots are of a way higher degree of difficulty so quite frankly if he hovers in the lower 40s this year he might actually be shooting well given the difficulty of some of the shots he is asked to take. The other thing is that he has a longer track record to fall back on here. He has never been an awesome shooter, but he has been a pretty competent one from the moment he stepped into the NBA. So there is little reason to think he will shoot this poorly all season. That is really the only real minus to his season so far, and while that is a big minus don't get me wrong. For him to be a good player he needs to shoot, but he has done most other things really well. He is not the most gifted defender and occasionally gets a little lazy/absent minded, but he mostly really competes on defense. And has shown a great ability to handle getting switched onto little guards and keeping them in front of him to force a contested pull up jumper. He also go hard for boards, his slightly over 6 boards a game from the SF spot is not empty. He is not Lance Stephensoning it, when he decides to hit the boards he throws himself in there with the trees and he gets the ball a ton. On offense he also has been a better passer than his reputation had me believe coming into the season. When double teams come his way he generally makes the right passes out of it, and when he is playing off the ball he is willing to swing the ball along the perimeter if he is not open. His biggest issue with passing is that he occasionally passes to the wrong place. (thinking a guy will cut, stuff like that) He also showed some ability to freaking kill teams who let small guys get switched onto him. Overall I am hugely surprised by just in general how good a team guy he seems to be. His reputation is that of a team killer type, but he plays his tail off and is willing to do a lot of the dirty work. Obviously it is a lot easier for a guy to be doing the right "professional" thing all the time when he is getting tons of playing time and a healthy diet of iso opportunities. But he has been fine so far. I don't think he could have landed in a better spot than Detroit, because if one city can appreciate a super hard working if a little to passionate guy, it is Detroit. Provided his shooting comes around he should end up being a great piece for the team, because he does everything else right. (and even though there is a lot of noise around this number, but he is #2 on the team in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and in both categories for his on/off court numbers in those categories. He also has the best +/- on the team by a fair margin. Even though a lot of other stuff goes into those numbers, it is still worth mentioning.) Oh yeah he also draws a ton of fouls.
Ersan Ilyasova: He has gotten off to a ok start. He is the one guy on the team who is actually shooting well in the young season it seems. (42% from 3, and is the only player over 35%(!!!!!!!) so the main thing he is on the team to do, he has done really well at. He has not played a ton of minutes, but SVG has said that is a calculated move to allow him to stay healthy all year. Ersan has some defensive deficiencies, but he also manages to single handedly kill opponent fast breaks by taking a charge all the time. Even if he does not have the quickness to stay in front of quick guys, or the strength to bang with the big guys, he plays super hard so he does ok on defense most of the time. The big problem so far has been his rebounding. He is only averaging 3.5 per game. I think part of that is that he is not a stat chaser so he lets other guys gobble up the easy ones to pad their stats. But if you are 6'10 you need to get more boards than that. He is a willing passer on offense as well, sometimes to willing. I understand that his occasional gun-shy behavior on offense is part of why he is shooting well to start the season. But I would like him to let fly a little more. Particularly when teams try and put a small guy on him. Ersan has a high (if a little slow) release that smaller guys have no real chance to contest. So when teams put a little guy on him, just freaking shoot over them. I would take a slight dip in his percentage for a couple more 3s per game from him. But overall, he was pretty much the only guy on the team who is a vet who is in a role that he knows well. And he has pretty much done exactly what he is supposed to do. I would like him to look for his own shot a little more and get a few more boards, but it is hard to complain about him. He has done pretty well to start the season.
Andre Drummond: So Andre has arrived in a big way. He eats up rebounds, and scores a lot of points. He absolutely owns the paint every single night. Like that is his paint, don't try and come in there. It is almost comical at times the way opposing teams just avoid the paint when Andre is patrolling it. The only bad thing is that it appears his free throw shooting has made little to no improvement. One thing to keep in mind this year is that he is not in his final form yet. He is starting to make the right basketball plays with regularity on both sides of the ball, but they still come a little slow. (he regularly makes the right pass out of double teams/turns away from the double to release his hook) This is the sort of progression he will have to go through. And yet despite his obvious short comings in the post, he draws double teams damn near every time he has the ball. And if he has the ball outside of the paint and the opposing center ignores him, he will put it on the floor and destroy the opponents soul. Everyone has talked a lot about him so I won't spend a ton of time on him. Mostly I would say soak up the good, and be patient with the bad. He could legit turn into one of the top players in basketball over the next couple years. Regardless of what else you do as a Pistons fan, enjoy watching this dude, because guys like Drummond do not come around very often.
So this got hella long. I think I will leave it at that for now, I will do another post for the bench.
What do you think? Got any good stats to share that I did not? Got any observations? Let me know! We all get smarter!