Bob Beyer on Peyton Siva: 'I just think he's a good basketball player.' (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Orlando, Florida — Stan Van Gundy wasn’t on the sidelines barking out instructions for the Pistons’ first summer league game but there were a few trademarks of his previous teams in the Pistons’ 95-89 win over the Houston Rockets Saturday at Amway Arena.
He sat within earshot of the Pistons’ bench while assistant Bob Beyer handled things, as the Pistons blitzed the Rockets early with pick-and-rolls where the big man popped out for open 3-pointers, something fans shouldn’t expect Andre Drummond, Josh Smith or Greg Monroe (if he returns) doing when the games count.
But NBA journeyman Brian Cook, a 33-year old looking for one last shot, found himself executing the simple but effective play with Peyton Siva, scoring 10 and helping the Pistons to a surprising 24-8 lead.
And what should be much to Van Gundy’s delight should he stay around, it was Siva who headily settled things down when the game tightened up, showing the poise he displayed at the end of last season when he received extended minutes.
“I just think he’s a good basketball player,” Beyer said. “He’s a point guard, thinking ‘set my teammates up’ first, he wants to run the team. And he has the ability, playing high pick and roll, to make good decisions. That helps him and our team.”
Siva scored six straight once the game was tied at 86 to help the Pistons pull away, including a quick but under-control drive down the lane where he side-stepped a defender and flipped up a runner before hitting the floor.
He was asked if it felt different than last season, feeling comfortable in tense situations and as he began to answer he caught himself, recognizing the truth in the moment.
“Definite(ly)… Well, I wasn’t even in the game at the end of games last year,” said Siva with a laugh. “It’s something I want to do down here, especially playing a lot of minutes. Try to make the right plays, the small plays.”
Siva had six assists in 27 minutes, to go with two turnovers. Anyone who’s watched the rough-and-tumble summer league knows the officials often swallow their whistles to keep things moving, and with so many desperate players hoping to catch a decision-maker’s attention, it often can lead to some physical play that resembles more rugby than NBA basketball.
“Man, I should’ve had none (turnovers). I had zero leading into the fourth quarter and there was a couple plays where I lost it and should’ve did a better job with it,” Siva said. “Hopefully next game I can focus on taking care of the ball and running the team. That’s what Van Gundy and coach Beyer wants me to do.”
He got the ball to Cook, and Christian Watford (formerly of Indiana University) while also steadily feeding fellow second-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored a game-high 26 and added six steals.
In a summer league setting, they’ve become the experienced players on the floor, even though Siva’s contract status is up in the air.
“I thought both of them had stretches where they stepped up and made big plays for us,” Beyer said. “The flow of an NBA game, you’ll see things where things will go well for you and both of them continued to play well -- and times where things didn’t go as well as you want them to and both guys fought through it. Even before looking through the tape, both of them played very well.”
The decision on Siva’s contract must be made right after summer league but the mature guard hasn’t been stressing about whatever happens. He’s made plenty of fans around the league with his approach and will likely get a shot no matter what Van Gundy decides.
He saw former teammate Kim English go through the same thing last summer, as English struggled through summer league before the Pistons let him go. English is with the Orlando Magic summer league team this time around.
“Kim talked to me, I talked to our guy Clete (Lewis, director of Public Relations), he’s around us a lot,” Siva said. “He told us to go out there and hoop. He said not to think about it, not to read too much into. Kim said he read into the numbers to try to figure out the numbers. For me, I try to go out there and play. God has a plan for me.”