Casey Q&A Part I: Derrick Rose ‘has Ish’s speed with power’

Dwane Casey says Derrick Rose, signed as a free agent, has the speed of Ish Smith plus the power to finish in traffic.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

(Editor’s note: Today begins a five-part interview of Dwane Casey with two weeks until training camp opens for the 2019-20 Pistons season. He spoke with Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois last week. In Part I, Casey talks about getting the off-season rolling with the trade for Tony Snell and the free-agent signing of Derrick Rose.)

KEITH LANGLOIS: Going into the off-season, you had no cap space and had to fill a few significant needs with only your cap exceptions. It was tough to see a path to get that done until the trade on the night before the draft for Tony Snell. It seemed that move really set up the rest of your off-season, didn’t it?

DWANE CASEY: No question. It really did. And then along with getting Derrick Rose, it really solidified us, gave us two areas of need we had with our shooting, our backup point guard situation once we lost Ish (Smith). It kind of set the tone. Now we brought some other guys in for workouts to fill other needs. Very talented people. We have some G League guys, our two-way player Lou King has had some good moments this summer. Jordan Bone has had some good moments this summer and Donta Hall has had some good moments. All of our young guys, peripheral guys, have also shown signs of talent that could help us throughout the year. But it really set the tone with the trade for Tony Snell. That was huge for us. Tony gives us the size and 3-point shooting that we really, really need and mainly the length and size. That factor is huge for him.

KL: If you had written up a job description for what you needed at that position, it was for a guy who shot a high volume of 3-pointers – I think almost 60 percent of his career shots are triples – and someone who shoots them at an above-average rate and gives you size at that position. When Ed Stefanski called and said this deal is done, we’ve got Tony Snell, what was your reaction?

DC: It was exciting. I was really excited because it fit a need that we had. And Tony’s such a pro. He fits into our culture, the way we want to play the game, approach the game, his level-headedness. With Wayne Elllington with 10 attempts (per 36 minutes) going out the door and we want to be a 3-point shooting team, you’ve got to bring those guys in and I think we did that in Tony. He lit up like a Christmas tree when I said, “You’ve got a green light. We need your 3-point shooting.” We need to make up those 10 threes. Maybe not him getting them all up, but he’s going to get a big bulk of those shots coming in.

KL: I know you traded Reggie Bullock a few months before the end of the season and I’m not holding up Snell as an exact replica of Bullock, but how do you see Tony playing off of Blake Griffin and can it be similar to how Bullock did?

DC: Similar. The DHOs, the combination that Reggie Bullock and Blake and also Wayne had with Blake because Blake is such a dynamic player, he’s going to draw attention. He’s smart and he understands reading how the defense is playing those two guys. He got Wayne open so many times to get his 3-point shot off, so he creates a lot of that with his DHOs, his passing, his ballhandling. When teams double team he knows exactly where those guys are. Tony fits that mold of a Reggie Bullock, a Wayne Ellington and Langston Galloway. Langston and Luke (Kennard) have also duplicated that position to play off of Blake.

KL: The other thing Snell gives you is a little more size to defend at that spot than you finished last season with after trading Bullock and Stanley Johnson, right?

DC: Right. Again, we were fortunate to get Wayne, but to have him guard Khris Middleton and some other bigger guys in the playoffs, that’s tough. It’s a hard ask for him to do at his size. Wayne gave us the energy and effort but at the end of the day he was 3 or 4 inches smaller.

KL: I know you aren’t in the habit of giving away starting spots before training camp, but on paper it seems like Snell makes a lot of sense. Do you anticipate him being the starter?

DC: It will be his to lose, I would say. The old adage of what’s best for the team, who starts, we’ll have a definite rotation. Certain guys will get certain minutes and whether it’s coming off the bench or finishing the game, that’s the most important. Tony’s matchup defensively is what I like. It gives the second unit good balance. Another guy we haven’t talked about who’s had a good summer is Svi (Mykhailiuk). He gives you good size. Doesn’t have the length that Tony has but still his shooting is really improved. Tony’s got a lot of NBA minutes ahead of Svi but similar type of approach as Svi with his 3-point shooting.

KL: The first move of free agency happened very quickly – Derrick Rose. What role do you envision for him?

DC: The guy’s been an MVP in our league. He wants to go out and prove that these last few years were due to injury, that he’s not done, which he showed last year in Minnesota. This summer he’s been a pro. All the workouts, he’s worked his behind off. He’s got another speed. He’s got Ish’s (Smith) speed with power, which is a tough combination. He brings that to the table. He’s going to have a lot of space with Blake and Andre (Drummond) rolling to the bucket. The one thing we hope he’ll continue to have is his 3-point shooting. He shot 37 percent last year from three, so that’s a new wrinkle for him and the trend with older players is that 3-point shooting tends to increase and get better. I remember Jason Kidd, same thing. He wasn’t a 3-point shooter but developed into a great one. Hopefully, Derrick will continue that. Just his approach, his professionalism, how hard Derrick plays, will set the tone with the rest of our team. He gives us excellent balance in our second unit.

KL: Would you envision Reggie Jackson and Derrick on the floor to close a lot of games?

DC: There’s a scenario where he and Reggie could play together. I like to play three guards together, whether it’s Luke or Derrick and Reggie or Derrick, Reggie and (Langston Galloway) or it could be Bruce (Brown) depending on the matchup. Most teams, the league is getting smaller and smaller so the more of those guys we can have in combo together, the better. But there will be scenarios where Reggie and Derrick will play together and have multiple ballhandlers in there and basically multiple point guards in there together. Reggie’s size gives you a different advantage – and his shooting. He had a good summer this summer, too. He’ll come back rejuvenated and fresh. He had a toenail taken off a couple of weeks ago. Slowed him down a little bit but he’s had a great summer working, in great shape, and has been dedicated with his work throughout the summer.

In Tuesday’s Part II of Casey’s Q&A, he’ll start by talking more about Reggie Jackson’s prognosis for the season ahead and continue discussing some of the off-season’s acquisitions.

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