Frazier, Galloway live the D-League creed – ‘Always Ready’ – and team up to lead Pistons win at Charlotte
Kent Smith (NBAE/Getty)
CHARLOTTE – Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway found themselves together at the Portsmouth Invitational – a proving grounds for players with uncertain draft status – after decorated four-year college careers in the spring of 2014.
Fighting their way through the NBA Development League, they’ve both established themselves as veterans who quickly win the trust of coaches. If they were to order business cards, the phrase “Always Ready” – the creed of D-Leaguers and now G-Leaguers – should be prominently displayed.
“It was a different way for us to make our way into the NBA,” Frazier said after playing 35 minutes and logging 15 points and 12 assists against only two turnovers, making 5 of 8 shots and 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc on a night both Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose sat. “We weren’t drafted, so we had to get here a different way. It’s that chip on your shoulder, that hungriness you need, to know that there were days you were on the outside looking in.”
Galloway hit 5 of 13 3-point shots to score 18 points as the Pistons – also playing without Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard – cobbled together unique lineups and pulled away with a 24-9 run over the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter before settling for a 116-110 win, finishing preseason at 3-2.
“Me and Tim, we go all the way back to Portsmouth, being undrafted, and we’ve always had that mindset of being able to be locked in at all times, being ready when your number is called. We both carry that mindset every single day and you see it in him.”
Dwane Casey, burned last season when Ish Smith went down for 26 games with a groin injury, was thrilled to add a No. 3 point guard of Frazier’s stature in free agency. He got glowing recommendations from coaches who’ve had Frazier for his ability to flourish in a role with sporadic playing time and he’ll feel even better about it after Frazier’showing in Charlotte.
“I thought he played great,” Casey said. “Twelve assists and two turnovers – that was huge. I bragged on him this morning. He’s a young man who when his number is called, is always ready to play, always in condition. He came over this morning, got his conditioning in – just really proud. He’s a pro and our young guys can see him as an example of how professional you have to be.”
Frazier and Galloway were on the floor with a unique lineup – Tony Snell at small forward and Andre Drummond and Christian Wood, another undrafted player trying to leave his mark on the Pistons, up front – over the last half of the second quarter when the Pistons had one of their best moments of offensive flow of the preseason. It was a lineup that Frazier had yet to play with, another example of his ability to fit in and adapt on the fly.
“My job as a point guard is to understand where guys want the ball, understand what guys do well and try to find plays,” Frazier said. “Coach drew up a play, it worked and we went right back to it, it worked again. We went off of that. We prided ourselves in that run, we were able to get stops. That was the biggest thing. Everybody scored. Everybody touched the ball and I think that had everybody excited.”
Casey has talked about a fluid second unit with a back end of the rotation that could vary from game to game. He ticks off three players – Rose, Kennard and Markieff Morris – as likely to be in the rotation every night and beyond that all bets are off. But Galloway is surely first in line to be considered for a fourth permanent bench role.
“He’s always been there. He’s never left,” Casey said. “He’s an old pro. You know what you’re going to get from Langston. Young guys, you never know what you’re going to get. But I know what we’re going to get out of Langston Galloway.”
Galloway had shot 4 of 12 from the 3-point arc over the first four preseason games, but got up 13 in 28 minutes in the finale. He left feeling like he’d made his case for nailing down a role as a 3-point shooter and dogged defender.
“Just showing coach that I’m reliable and I’m always going to be that guy,” he said. “Defensive presence first and foremost and being able to knock down shots when I’m open.”
The Pistons got 17 points and 15 rebounds from Drummond and 17 points from Morris, who played 20 minutes after missing Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia with bronchitis. Wood had another strong game, too, with 12 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes.
But the takeaway was the work of two D-League graduates, guys a blue-collar coach knows he can always hold up as examples of the diligence and work ethic he’s made a part of his daily drumbeat since coming to the Pistons.
“You know in this league, it’s all about opportunity and what you do with it,” Frazier said. “My job is always to stay ready when my name is called, go out and try to help the team. That’s why I came here – to help the team any way I can when my name is called.”