Meet Wayne Ellington

The Pistons and shooting guard Wayne Ellington have agreed to a deal for the rest of the season. Ellington was traded from Miami to Phoenix in a money-cutting deal, the Suns had no need of him so they bought him out. In order to make space for Ellington the Pistons cut Henry Ellenson.

The signing is a nice victory for the Pistons as Ellington had many suitors, but he was likely drawn by the ample playing time that should be available in Detroit.

Who is Wayne Ellington?

Ellington was born and raised in Pennsylvania and was an elite high-school player. His high school, Episcopal Academy, doesn’t play in state championships for some reason but they went undefeated in his last two seasons there. He was a five star recruit and went to play at North Carolina.

Ellington played three years at UNC and was a regular starter from the moment he arrived, playing in 115 games and starting 112 of them. His career was capped off by being a part of UNC’s 2009 National Championship team, a team that defeated Michigan State in the title game.

Ellington was drafted 28th overall by the Timberwolves where he would spend his first three seasons as a fairly steady rotation piece off the bench. After leaving the Timberwolves he has bounced around and been a true journey-man. In his career, Ellington has played for Minnesota, Memphis, Cleveland, Dallas, the Lakers, Brooklyn, and Miami. He has spent the last three years in Miami.

How’s his offense?

Them’s the goods here. Ellington is a high-level shooter. Not quite good enough to be considered among the leagues top tier marksmen, he is not far behind. In his career he is a 38% shooter from deep on exceptionally high volume. He can do it from any way you want him to. Per synergy, he ranks no lower than 76th percentile in shooting out of a hand-off, spotting up, or coming off a screen last season. He is a relentless gunner who needs very little space to let fly.

Ellington is also almost exclusively a shooter. The last two seasons have seen him take 83% of his shots from beyond the long-line. This is both good and bad, on one hand he is a guy who is very clearly on the floor to shoot threes and will rarely try to stray from his lane. On the other hand, he is not someone who is ever going to do much putting the ball on the floor and creating.

How’s his defense?

I honestly don’t know. When I’ve watched him he’s mostly looked fine but never stood out. Put a pin in this and we will see.

Let’s compare him to Reggie Bullock:

Everyone will want this anyways so lets do it. Ellington is a downgrade from Bullock, don’t let anyone argue otherwise. Ellington is not quite the same shooter as Bullock and doesn’t even possess the minimal ball-handling skills that Bullock does. He also is a bit smaller than Bullock so he is less flexible on defense.

I really want to emphasis though, Ellington is not going to fully replace Bullock. For instance, Bullock could occasionally put the ball on the floor and get some real penetration for layups or make nice passes, Ellington just isn’t going to do that.

From Bullock to Ellington is a drop-off, but Ellington will make the loss of Bullock a lot less painful.

Where will Ellington fit on the floor?

He will play a very similar role to what Langston Galloway does, in fact Ellington is pretty similar (but better) to Galloway in how he plays. He will spot-up to give spacing to the Pistons big-three and also see a lot of dribble hand-offs come his way. They will probably send him around complex sets of screens less than Miami just because the Pistons don’t seem to do that as much. He will be on the floor to provide spacing and bomb threes anytime he gets space.

Upshot for the rest of the roster?

They already cut Ellenson. My guess is that he starts the rest of the season, they like Luke Kennard’s fit with the bench unit and the playmaking he provides, Ellington is a natural fit next to the other starters. The only question is if Dwane Casey dares to go so small on the wings with Ellington and Brown. His arrival will probably bump someone from the rotation, likely will be Galloway and/or Svi.

RIP Henry

Yeah. I bet some team will give him a shot, there is a useful player in there somewhere. I will say that I’m not sure why you cut Ellenson instead of Jose Calderon. Calderon has been utterly terrible, your point guards are healthy now and both of your two-way guys are point guards. On top of that, if things go really south somehow it might be useful to have Henry’s bird-rights this offseason and if the team goes south this season you can let Ellenson play a bunch in the last few games of the season to give him one last shot to show something. In the end it probably doesn’t matter, Ellenson is probably never going to actually be a worthwhile NBA player, but I am pretty confused why you don’t cut Calderon here.

Worst Case Scenario:

Ellington gets hurt right away and doesn’t hardly play. Meanwhile none of the young guys really prove themselves capable of stepping into major minutes.

Best case scenario:

Ellington is an obvious and clean fit from the start, his shooting keeps the Pistons wing rotation from falling completely into the abyss. It combines with the better play of Jackson and Drummond to be a key cog in a big run to end the season that see’s the Pistons grab the 6th seed and upset the first round of the playoffs. Things go so well and Ellington enjoys his time here so much that he remains in Detroit at a highly reasonable price.


Excellent pick up for the Pistons and marks them having really done a nice job of walking the line between setting up for next season while still being in a decent spot to push for the playoffs. He isn’t a total home-run, he doesn’t do much but shoot, but he fils a real need and was probably the best player available in buyouts.

Pistons, NBAJoseph SinkeComment