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Good news for Pistons fans, Blake Griffin looks sharp at UCLA run

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Just how good will the Detroit Pistons be this season?

The answer to that question starts with another question, how healthy will they be? Beyond that unknown, they have an interesting set of players: Blake Griffin as the focal point of the offense, Andre Drummond at center, and Reggie Jackson at the point. How to fit them and the role players together is a challenge for new coach Dwane Casey.

One bit of good news: Blake Griffin looked sharp at the UCLA run going on right now.

Turns out Griffin can still throw it down on the court, not just at the comedy club.

He’s an underrated passer, and teams have to respect his jumper (even if you’d rather have him take that than drive the lane). With him at the heart of this offense, the Pistons could be better than expected.

It’s a hopeful sign for Pistons fans.

Stan Van Gundy on time between jobs: ‘I’m really lost right now’

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For the past four seasons, Stan Van Gundy has been the coach and president (with GM powers) of the Detroit Pistons, setting the course for that franchise through the first part of the Andre Drummond era. Last summer, owner Tom Gores wanted to make changes, and in the end that meant Van Gundy was out (Ed Stefanski and Dwane Casey are in).

What is Van Gundy doing now? Or next? He’s not exactly sure, he was open about it on the Real Talk with Rex Walters podcast (hat tip ESPN).

“If I could get a job [for next season], I had planned to coach. Now, I really don’t know,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really lost right now. I don’t have an idea. My wife wants me to retire…

“I want to do something, but if I’m not coaching, I don’t want to work too hard,” Van Gundy said. “If I’m going to be grinding, then I want to coach. If I’m not going to be coaching, I want to be semi-retired, at least. I really don’t know.”

Van Gundy is far from the first person to be at this point in his life and career, then finding himself without a job is unsure what the next step will be. When he took the Pistons job he said “this was it” — after Detroit he was going to walk away and retire. That, however, is easier said than done, it’s not that easy to walk away if you love the game and still believe you can contribute.

I would expect to see Van Gundy doing some media spots, maybe on NBA TV or other networks (he was working with NBC Sports before taking the Detroit job). He’s going to keep his toes in the water because other jobs will come open, and he will get a look. Teams could do a lot worse than bringing him in to coach.

Derrick Jones Jr. nastily dunks on Andre Drummond

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Andre Drummond is working on 3-pointers.

Maybe he ought to spend more time on rim protection.

The Pistons center got demolished by Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. in the Miami Pro League.

To be fair to Drummond, Jones is an exceptional athlete. He can dunk on even good rim protectors. And getting dunked on shows effort. But Drummond definitely has room to improve his defensive awareness.

Pistons’ Andre Drummond says he’ll shoot 3-pointers next season

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The NBA’s 3-point revolution is spreading to centers.

Even ones who’ve shown no mid-range game and an awkward stroke on free throws.

Pistons center Andre Drummond, via Joseph Casciaro of theScore:

“I don’t do stuff (on the court) just to have fun,” Drummond told theScore when questioned about his 3-point shenanigans. “If I’m taking those shots, (it’s because) I’m working on it for the upcoming season. Those are shots that I’m gonna be taking.

“I make at least 200 corner 3s every day before I leave the gym. I’m getting them up. I’m getting the same shot up over and over again, so I’m getting more comfortable with it. It’s been great so far,” he explained.

Drummond, like most players, likes to be involved offensively. For years, that meant terribly inefficient post-ups. Last season, Detroit found a clever solution – using Drummond in the high post as a passing hub. But then the Pistons traded for Blake Griffin, who pushed Drummond out of that role.

So, Drummond spotting up for 3s could get him shots that keep him engaged in other aspects of the game, like defense. He could also pull a big out of the paint and make it easier for his teammates to attack the rim. He needn’t hit a high percentage of shots to make this strategy worthwhile, but he must hit enough to warrant taking them and to draw a defender to him.

Will he?

Drummond loves to take halfcourt heaves at the end of quarters, and maybe that somewhat translates. His problems on free throws are partially mental, and he won’t necessarily bring that block to 3-pointers. New Pistons coach Dwane Casey had success turning Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas into more of a 3-point shooter.

But I’m skeptical. Drummond’s stroke free throws, even massively improved last year, is still often so ugly. Other bigs showed more propensity from mid-range before expanding their shot selection beyond the arc. This could be another situation like post-ups, where Drummond’s eagerness far outpaces his ability.

Drummond has made himself a star by leveraging his awesome combination of size and athleticism. Adding reliable 3-point shooting could take his game to a far higher level. The upside is so high.

But, for now, I’m in wait-and-see mode.

Report: Zaza Pachulia signs one-year deal with Detroit Pistons


At least one member of the Golden State Warriors championship core is moving away from the team.

Fifteen-year NBA veteran Zaza Pachulia has agreed to sign a one-year, $2.4 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. That figure represents a minimum salary contract for Pachulia given his experience.

Via Twitter:

Pachulia’s advanced statistics suggest that he is still a useful player, although his age and minutes might dictate how much of an impact he has on the box score this coming season for the Pistons. Detroit already has several star forwards, including Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, and they have useful backups like Jon Leuer.

What the Pachulia’s role will be at this time in his career and for a team that is not expected to contend for a championship is unclear. However, getting a veteran presence on the Pistons is a solid move for Dwane Casey as he tries to reform the culture of the team in his own vision.

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