Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, January 26
We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.
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Robert (Manton, Mich.): Nice game from Daye and about time. Can it last?
Langlois: A flood of Austin Daye questions this week, Robert – much of it came in before Daye’s big game against Miami, when he came off the bench to score 18 in the second quarter alone and 28 for the game, and more trickled in overnight. To be sure, Daye’s outing gave the Pistons a real lift. When a team struggles to score as the Pistons have this season, getting the type of “easy” points Daye gives them – and I put easy in quotes because Daye, when he’s right, gets points fast and with seeming effortlessness, though of course that’s not the case – make a tremendous difference. Suddenly, those dry spells that bury a team – when one or two empty possessions suddenly become seven or eight, and a four-point deficit becomes a 14-point deficit – become rarer and less severe. Doesn’t mean he’ll score 28 every night, of course. But if the Pistons can count on him to return to the guy who reliably knocks down open 3-pointers and uses his unusual length to get his share of rebounds and blocked shots, they’ll find themselves in position to win a lot more often.
Bruno (Sao Paulo, Brazil): Austin Daye has been really struggling and Charlie V never really had a place in Detroit. Charlotte has no one to play small forward and it could use a shooter like him. Tyrus Thomas has been struggling for them this season since he came back from his injury, but I like him and think he would be fantastic next to Monroe. He is an athletic shot blocker and we’re lacking one. Would Charlotte pull the trigger on a Villanueva-Daye for Thomas offer?
Langlois: Interesting thought, Bruno. The season has been beyond disappointing for all three players so far – at least until Daye’s breakout game against Miami, scoring a career-high 28. Sometimes teams get to a point they’re willing to swap one disappointing performer for another on the that the player struggling in another city would be revived by the trade. And that’s really tough to read. Pistons scouts were excited by the raw athleticism Thomas offered when he was in college at LSU, but he never really harnessed it and this season even that athleticism doesn’t seem to translate into much production. When the Pistons played at Charlotte a few weeks ago, Thomas didn’t make any of the “wow” plays that became his calling card.
Daniel (Detroit): When will Austin Daye get his turn? He did well in the preseason, but he looks uncomfortable and is missing shots because he knows he will be back on the bench. I think we should start him and really see what he’s able to do. It seems like a waste of a high pick if we never give him a shot to play.
Langlois: Your question came in before Daye’s big night against Miami, Daniel. But even before that, it wasn’t a question of him getting his turn. There have been just five games in which Daye hasn’t played, and one of them was because of a sprained ankle that occurred in a game he actually started. It just isn’t a reflection of the reality to say Daye hasn’t gotten a chance. And he’s gotten more than cameo appearances, too, averaging more than 10 minutes a game. But he was shooting 26 percent overall and 1 of 17 from the 3-point line before the Miami outing. Yeah, it’s tough when you’re a bench player and you know you have to do something well in the first few minutes upon entering the game to justify staying on the floor or retaining your spot in the rotation, but that’s life in the NBA as a bench player. It’s a big part of why Pistons fans still talk about Vinnie Johnson, 25 years after he established himself as one of history’s top sixth men – because it’s hard to fill that role and provide consistent production. As the Pistons are currently constructed, it’s going to be tough for Daye to push for a starting role until he proves he deserves a steady spot in the rotation. And it would be tough for Lawrence Frank, who preaches transparency and integrity, to stand before his team and tell them Daye deserves to start at this point. But if he can string together a number of productive outings – and, again, we’re not talking about 28-point outbursts, just positive contributions – then nothing is out of reach, including eventually pushing for a starting spot or at least convincing the coaching staff and management they can make future decisions from a perspective that Daye gives them starting-quality options.
Anthony (Clinton Twp., Mich.): The Pistons seem to have given up on Austin Daye and will need to make a decision on him at least by the off-season. I feel Austin could fit in somewhere else. Is there any chance we could see his upside to a team and be able to ship him and CV somewhere?
Langlois: They haven’t given up on him at all, Anthony. As long as they’re certain Daye hasn’t given up on himself, and there is no indication of that. By his own admission, his confidence had been a fragile thing, but he still believes in his NBA future. He’s still putting in the work. He flew in his off-season trainer, Joe Abunassar, this week and spent extra time in the gym with him working on his fundamentals, but also using him as a sounding board. Because Abunassar spends so much time with him in the off-season, he can offer insight that others can’t. Especially because of the summer lockout and the fact the Pistons have a largely new coaching staff, Abunassar has a longer history with Daye than others and knows better than most what his shot mechanics look like when he’s right and what minor flaws might have cropped up during his slump. Is it possible he could be traded? Sure. While it’s true that his trade value doesn’t figure to be at its highest now, all it takes is one other GM who has seen the possibilities in Daye and believes that a change of scenery would bring out the best in him. What that GM has to offer the Pistons would determine where it goes from there.
Vince (Tecumseh, Ontario): I’m reading comments from players like “we need to play together” and “when we share the ball we can beat anyone.” I’m wondering, because the coach wants Stuckey and Knight to get into the paint and score, if some players see that as being selfish. Knight does seem to take a lot of shots for a rookie.
Langlois: Knight’s third on the team in minutes plays and third in shots, Vince. He’d almost certainly be fifth in shots if Ben Gordon hadn’t missed a few games and Rodney Stuckey even more than that. The comments you’re reading are things that are said frequently by any team that struggles with inconsistency. They aren’t necessarily indicative of dissension and, in the case of the Pistons this year, there hasn’t been any hint of dissension. Lawrence Frank wants Stuckey and Knight to attack the basket, just as any coach would ask of any player with the capability to do so.
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