Pistons on track to start Marcus Morris over Stanley Johnson

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The Pistons have basically been locked into three starters:

Small forward Marcus Morris and power forward Ersan Ilyasova were penciled in, but No. 8 pick Stanley Johnson had a chance to push either forward – more likely Morris – to the bench.

It appears Detroit will stick with Jackson/Caldwell-Pope/Morris/Ilyasova/Drummond.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“I just think that’s our best lineup right now,” Van Gundy said. “It gives a little bit more size, a little more experience. That’s where my comfort level is right now, but we’ll see how it goes early in the year, or even these (last) two preseason games.”

I doubt anything beyond injury would change Van Gundy’s mind before the regular season, but it’s only a matter of time until Johnson starts.

The Pistons traded for Morris as a placeholder in the starting lineup. Johnson is the long-term bet, and a strong preseason had him pushing to start sooner than most expected.

Morris, a four-year pro, is just more ready to contribute than the 19-year-old Johnson. As Johnson gains experience, his talent should overcome the gap between him and Morris.

Morris’ versatility could keep him in the starting lineup at that point, tough. Capable of playing either forward position (and Johnson might be too), Morris could outlast Ilyasova, whose contract is barely guaranteed beyond this season.

But, sooner or later, someone will have to make room for Johnson.