Pistons throwing the kitchen sink at rookies and so far, so good

Rookies Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard have been eager and apt learners so far, Pistons assistant coach Bob Beyer says.
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by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

ORLANDO – Stan Van Gundy has stationed himself in the bleachers, surrounded by his front-office cabinet, with their attention divided between Summer League practices and constant phone calls as NBA free agency speeds along.

Assistant coach Bob Beyer has been running those two-a-day practices, Van Gundy pitching in every now and then, with attention to the type of detail necessary when the first game is only a few days after handshakes to introduce teammate to teammate.

“You look at the younger guys here, both our draft choices, Stanley (Johnson) and Darrun (Hilliard), we’ve thrown a lot at them from the terminology standpoint and I really like the way they’ve engaged themselves with the group,” Beyer said between Thursday practices. “They’re really trying to pick up the terminology. Guys like Spencer (Dinwiddie) and Quincy (Miller) have been very helpful, having a year, a half-year under their belt working with us.”

The Pistons pack their days with practices at both ends not just to give their players the tools they’ll need to play Saturday’s Summer League opener, but to give them a boot-camp setting to see how they react to the stress.

“The big thing is it comes so quick,” Beyer said. “You have to go from practice to practice and learn a lot in a short period of time, digest what you’ve learned and carry it over to the next practice, the next day, the next game.”

Beyer gave a little more insight into those four – the four player who’ll be with the Pistons in training camp and have various stakes in the future of the franchise.

  • Stanley Johnson – “You look at him physically, he has an NBA body right now and he’s only 19 years old. He’s been able (with) his on-ball defense to be very, very good. He gets into the ball. He can pressure the ball and he’s a very good athlete in transition. He runs the floor exceptionally well. He can catch the ball on the wing and make a solid play getting to the rim. Now the challenge for him is to do that consistently. He’s demonstrated to us in a very short period of time that ability. Now we’ve got to make him do it all the time. … Stanley’s come up to me after two consecutive practices. ‘What do I need to do to get better?’ That’s really, really encouraging.”

  • Darrun Hilliard – “He is a very serious player. He wants to be on top of everything. He wants the coaches to work with him and he wants to learn the plays, because he really wants to succeed. … When we scrimmaged last night, (Hilliard’s versatility) really came out. He has a great calmness to his game. He plays with great poise. Fundamentally, he’s extremely sound and he just lets the game come to him. He doesn’t panic out there. He knows when to shoot, he knows when to pass, he can rebound some, he’s a solid defender. He’s been very, very good in a short time.”

  • Quincy Miller – “He’s a high-energy guy and he knows that this is a critical time for him right now. He’s put a lot into it. I think he’s sitting on a really, really big summer. I think he’s going to come out and play really, really hard and be very successful here in the games we’re going to play.”

  • Spencer Dinwiddie – “(Performance and leadership skills) are both important, especially the way coach Van Gundy likes to play. He gives the point guards a lot of freedom, but he also expects them to know the offense inside and out. He has a jump, Spencer does, because a lot of the things we’re doing this summer is a carryover from what he learned last year. He played big minutes for us at times and did quite well. I think he knows where he’s at. He’s a young player and I think he has great anticipation to perform well and would like to demonstrate that he can be a Detroit Piston for a long time.”