D-League for Rookies
Cheeks sees D-League stint benefiting Mitchell, Siva
After the Pistons complete their sixth set of back-to-back games in December by playing at Orlando tonight and at Washington on Saturday, their schedule ratchets back markedly. In fact, after hosting Washington on Monday the Pistons will play only five games in 17 days and have two rare five-day gaps in their schedule.
So it was the right time for Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva to visit the D-League.
The Pistons sent their two second-round rookies to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Thursday as they left for Orlando. Mitchell and Siva watched in street clothes Thursday night as Fort Wayne routed Reno 114-89, but Joe Dumars said they would practice with the Mad Ants today and play Saturday against Rio Grande Valley.
Fort Wayne has home games on Monday and Friday next week, goes on the road for two games Jan. 6 and 8 and then comes home for a weekend back to back on Jan. 10-11. The Pistons anticipate the rookies to be in Fort Wayne about two weeks, so that would give them six games. They could potentially return to the Pistons during their gap in the schedule from Jan. 12-16 for practices.
Maurice Cheeks, who during his time in Oklahoma City saw Thunder players benefit from D-League stints, expects the Fort Wayne sojourn to help Mitchell and Siva.
“I think it benefits them by reaffirming their abilities,” he said. “They go down there and get to play NBA rules and play every day. They’re going to play 35 or 40 minutes. Guys learn more from being in the floor than by sitting here watching. Those two are conscientious kids. They’ll learn some of their strengths and weaknesses all over again. Here, what is probably their strength is taken away by these very, very good players and then they go down and work on some of those things that didn’t work here and they enhance those things. I think it’s a very, very good tool for them.”
Siva has played a total of 76 minutes spread over 13 games, opportunities afforded him when injuries hit in waves across the backcourt. He last played on Dec. 11. Mitchell has played a total of 37 minutes over nine games.