Once Blake Griffin was traded to Detroit last February at the deadline, Stan Van Gundy put the ball in his hands a lot — a 29.8 percent usage rate. Griffin was handed the ball in the post a lot (especially the high post) and the Pistons averaged an impressive 105 points per possession from those plays (stats via Synergy Sports). Griffin, as he has tended to in recent years, took too many midrangers and didn’t get to the rim as much as the coaching staff would like, but was efficient in isolation, and also showed promise as a playmaker.
Expect to see more of that with Dwane Casey as coach.
Casey was officially hired by the Pistons Monday as their new head coach — the best the Pistons could have made. Once they made the move for Griffin to pair with Andre Drummond (and eventually a healthy Reggie Jackson) this became a team about winning now and making the postseason. Casey has gotten the most out of a team in that space the past several years in Toronto, he should put the Pistons in better positions to succeed.
How? More Griffin. That’s what Casey said on ESPN Radio’s Stephen A. Smith Show:
“We’re going to empower Griffin to expand his game, a lot like DeMar DeRozan in Toronto. Expand his game out to the 3-point line, have some point-forward responsibilities with the basketball out on the floor bringing it down. Because he’s more than just a back-down, post-up player….
“They have a good team, they have a good roster and a very dynamic owner in Tom Gores, who is doing a lot of things for the city of Detroit.”
More Griffin is a start, some high low game with Drummond, or Griffin working off the ball as Jackson and Drummond run pick-and-rolls. There’s a lot of potential there.
Most of all, Casey needs to stop in every church he passes by and pray/light a candle — maybe sacrifice a live rooster if needed — that Jackson and Griffin can stay healthy for most of a season. Same with the rest of the Pistons. Healthy this is a playoff team and a pretty good one in Detroit, but’s a roster loaded with players who have long injury histories.
Casey is expected to meet with most of the team soon in Los Angeles and lay out his plans. He will get the most out of this roster, whatever pieces he has. We’ll see if that’s enough.