Pistons forward Luigi Datome expects to return to practice this week. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Auburn Hills — Seeing a Gigi Datome shooting display isn’t uncommon to Pistons players or the coaching staff, but it’s a lot different when a teammate or opponent is frantically running at you.
The Italian sharpshooter hopes to take a step toward getting on the floor and plans to participate in today’s practice, after sitting out most of camp with injuries to his hamstring and a sore left foot.
It didn’t help Datome arrived at Pistons camp with a little more than the usual wear and tear, courtesy of a long run in the EuroBasket Tournament that ended right before training camp began a few weeks ago.
“It’s something, you can’t help it,” Datome said. “(Injuries) happen. There’s no rush and I hope to be 100 percent as soon as I can.”
He’s working with Pistons strength and conditioning guru Arnie Kander daily — a man who has his hands full with the injuries to Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings.
“The process is day by day,” Datome said. “They go through practice and I see how I feel. If everything is OK, I’ll go through the whole practice. If not, I’ll listen to what my body tells me. There’s no rush, I want to come back at the right moment. If you rush this stuff, it’ll become a bigger problem later.”
In that time, Kyle Singler has cemented a spot in Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks’ rotation with his shooting and ability to play both shooting guard and small forward.
While Datome’s playing in EuroBasket and his injury is no fault of his own, it’s surely a setback, one that will prevent the soon-to-be 26-year-old from making an immediate impact in his rookie season.
Cheeks made it clear he wants to see Datome practice before even giving it a thought to actually playing him, with the regular season opening Wednesday night, but added, “we could use his shooting.”
“It’ll be good to see,” Cheeks said. “It’s easy to shoot when you’re not playing, I mean you (media) can do that. It doesn’t mean it’s going in but you could do that (laughs). It’s a little different when you’re running up and down and getting contact.”
Even if Datome’s body isn’t 100 percent, his eyes are. He’s taken the preseason to acclimate himself to the speed of NBA basketball — which in a way, makes him more certain he needs to be completely healthy before he’s available to play — but then again, nobody in the NBA is at 100 percent after camp starts.
“Watching from the bench, I can see a lot of quick players so you have to make quick decisions and quick execution,” Datome said. “These are the best players in the world. I know I have good teammates that are helping me even though I’m not practicing. In the NBA, I cannot be able to play 50 or 60 percent. I need my body to be 100 percent.”
With Cheeks already making the decision he won’t have a set rotation — it could be Charlie Villanueva getting minutes one night and then Jonas Jerebko the next — he’s saying it shouldn’t provide any extra reward for Datome to get out there to impress the coaching staff.
“He should have incentive to come back out there anyway,” Cheeks said. “It doesn’t matter because he doesn’t know if he’ll play or won’t play. It’ll only be right for those guys to continue playing and depending on what other guys are doing, he gets a chance. But he’s gotta get out there and make some shots.”