In 3-week crash course, Beyer sees noticeable progress in Johnson’s summer work list
Jason Miller (Getty Images Sport)
ORLANDO – Wherever Stanley Johnson goes, Bob Beyer is probably close behind. So far this summer, he’s followed him from Orange County all the way to Orange County.
Beyer will coach the Pistons Summer League team for Stan Van Gundy for the third straight year in central Florida’s Orange County, this time coming here after spending the last three weeks in California’s Orange County, the sprawling tangle of interstate highways that spawns traffic jams and pro athletes in equally impressive abundance.
That’s where Johnson calls home, so Beyer has pitched a tent there to help Johnson attack the areas of his game Van Gundy challenged him to improve when his rookie season ended: ballhandling, footwork, shooting form, decision making.
“I think we all want a perfect jump shot,” Beyer said on the third day of Summer League practices. “But if you really look at him and his whole game, his footwork is much improved, his two-point pull-up jump shot is much improved. He’s going to shoot threes here and that technique breaks down a little bit. But overall he’s made strides – he’s made good strides in a three-week period.”
Not only did Beyer spend that time with Johnson, but Pistons shooting coach Dave Hopla also traveled to Southern California for a solid week. Even Van Gundy made the trek to oversee workouts for a couple of days.
“So we’ve all been able to touch him and he’s been very receptive,” Beyer said. “The one thing I would hope is if he has some failure, so to speak, in his own mind, that he just kind of totally reverts back. But I don’t think he’s going to, because he’s really embraced this and I think he’s made good progress.”
Johnson picked up a number of traveling calls last season, a result of his intense focus on driving to the rim – his comfort zone. As his game expands and he gains more confidence in his ability to do all those other things Beyer is helping him improve – handle with either hand, drain the pull-up jump shot, come off a screen and recognize the defense’s greatest vulnerability – he’ll be less laser-focused on the rim.
“First year in to the NBA, he wanted to go so fast and he fell back into what he’s comfortable doing and that’s just driving the ball,” Beyer said. “So early in the year, he just wanted to catch it and go and that’s where he got himself in trouble. Now he’s more disciplined with his shooting base. He’s more of a concentrated player. I hope he doesn’t have any of those travels this year and I don’t think he will.”
“Both are intelligent, high basketball IQ guys,” he said. “There’s some slippage, which is understandable. It’s a little more difficult for Michael because he’s playing two positions right now and that’s even more on his plate. But I’ve been pleased and I think Stan has, too, with the way both of those guys have progressed.”
Beyer said the Pistons are keeping Ellenson at power forward almost exclusively for now, but he’ll play center later in the Summer League schedule when the matchups dictate and as the Pistons lose some players to Las Vegas Summer League rosters. Big men Kaleb Tarczewski (Washington) and Jordan Bachynski (Portland), at minimum, are committed to other teams for play in Las Vegas.
Gbinije is playing mostly point guard – the position he played as a fifth-year senior at Syracuse and one the Pistons want to test him at to see if he can be No. 3 on their depth chart next season – but also seeing time at shooting guard, Beyer said.