Wayne Ellington Proved His Worth as a Deadline Addition
This is the 3rd season Review. Previously was Bruce Brown and Reggie Jackson.
Ellington joined the Pistons at the deadline as a waiver-wire acquisition. Ellington was traded to the Suns who subsequently cut him, at which point the Pistons won out to sign him over several other playoff contenders in what was a really nice get for the new front office.
He appeared in 28 games for the Pistons, starting in 26 of them, he started off a bit cold but soon got comfortable and played well. He played 27.3 minutes per game, scored 12 points, grabbed 2.1 boards and dished 1.5 assists per game. The Pistons added him so that he would come and shoot a bunch of threes and that is exactly what he did.
As stated above, Wayne Ellington is here to shoot and that’s what happened. Ellington got up 7.8 long-guns per game which was 79.5% of all of his field goals, and he hit 37.3% of them. The sheer bravery it takes to launch some of the threes that he did is impressive let alone that he hit a lot of them. He quickly filled in the hole that Reggie Bullock left in the two-man game with Blake Griffin effectively for a nice fall-back play in the offense.
His shooting wasn’t necessarily a huge improvement, Bullock isn’t quite as high a volume shooter as Ellington but he’s also generally been more accurate, but when you consider that Bullock was already traded away before the Pistons added Ellington his arrival was a god-send. He provided enough spacing to keep the Pistons offense barely in the correct side of the tipping point where their lack of shooting simply kills the entire offense. And even if it wasn’t regular, Ellington generally had a decent feel for when the defense was overplaying his shot too much so he had to put it on the floor.
Putting it on the floor is one area where the Pistons did miss Reggie Bullock though. Bullock wasn’t exactly a ball-handler but he was far more capable of running pick and rolls and putting the ball on the floor to go to the hoop than Ellington was and this issue really reared its head in the playoffs where Ellington was totally phased out of the series. In the playoffs Ellington shot just 31% from deep and 31% overall from the floor and it was largely because Bucks defenders went so far over screens they were actually on the opposite side of Ellington from the hoop, then when Ellington did try and put it on the floor he just wasn’t able to consistently make things happen.
One of the most pleasant surprises for Ellington was actually his defense. Offense is obviously where he earns his keep but we knew what he was bringing on that end. On arrival there had been mixed reports on Ellington’s defensive abilities, some said he was decent others said he was poor. Upon arrival Ellington, by default, was often stuck defending the elite wing scorers on the NBA in his time in Detroit, and while he didn’t exactly shut anyone down, he seemed to really relish in the role and do a respectable job of it. He simply doesn’t have the tools to really contain many of those guys and his grasp of the scheme was not always there (which is understandable given how little time he had to adjust) but in one on one situations he really gave great effort and showed good smarts. So while overall he came out as just an “ok” defender, he did better than was really expected and seemed to really attack the large task that was put in front of him on that end.
Ellington performed about as well as the Pistons could’ve hoped. He shot the ball well, wasn’t a total turnstile on defense, and when you consider just how empty the Pistons wing rotation would’ve been had he gone elsewhere it is easy to be very thankful for the short time he spent in Detroit. His acquisition was a great get for the front office and hopefully a sign of things to come with winning out in those situations. Was in a bigger role than he really should be in, did as well as you could hope, but he certainly didn’t rise much above and fill it in a way you didn’t expect beyond better defensive effort.
Should the Pistons bring him back?
There’s a lot of factors at play there. The Pistons have very limited resources to add players, how the draft goes will have a big say in preparing for free agency. My preference would be for the Pistons to focus more on someone who has more size and defense than Ellington this off-season but they could do a lot worse than bringing him back. So he shouldn’t really be a priority to get to return but he should certainly be on their list of guys.