Stan Van Gundy on team's progress ahead of Wednesday's opener against the Charlotte Hornets. Rod Beard
Auburn Hills — It’s not a trade secret, but Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t ready to unveil his starting lineup and core rotation.
At least not yet.
After going through an injury-riddled, five-game preseason without seeing his projected starting lineup play together for even a minute, Van Gundy has settled on a first five, plus his primary reserves. He’s just not ready to let the media know his plans.
“We know who we’re going to start,” Van Gundy said Monday. “I guarantee you, an hour before the game on Wednesday, you’ll know.”
Though he’s keeping the particulars under wraps, Van Gundy is planning to talk to each player individually to discuss what his role is going to be and make sure they’re on the same page.
“I talk to a couple guys every day. Everybody will go into Wednesday knowing where they stand at this point,” he said. “I’ll have conversations with guys (Tuesday). Everybody knows what their role on the floor is and they’re all going to have to accept where they are playing-time wise.”
The projected starters were Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond, though minor injuries or rest kept each of them out of preseason games. Van Gundy traditionally has used a rotation of eight or nine players but with so much depth and versatility on the roster, he may be pushed to use 10 this season.
The most intriguing spot is backup center, where he will use Boban Marjanovic in certain scenarios, but he likely won’t be an every-game option because of varying matchups.
“Our backup center is going to be a by-committee thing,” Van Gundy said. “A lot of times, I may have some idea when I go into games, based on who the matchups are, but a lot of that will be going into the game and what we think we need when Andre is out of there.”
Van Gundy doesn’t expect the starters to change very often, but the reserves will be swapped based on the opponent and the opportunities with matchups.
“The rotation is going to change from night to night. I don’t know (about nine or 10),” he said. “I look at everybody on our roster as viable going in.”
Pistons center discusses confidence in his free-throw shooting is improving his offensive game. Rod Beard
Center of attention
Drummond is taking on a new role in the Pistons’ offense, as something of a point-center. On dribble-handoffs, he sets a pick for the ball-handler and then rolls behind to the basket, searching for an offensive rebound and easy basket off a miss.
Van Gundy is looking to utilize Drummond’s versatility away from the basket, while still keeping him in a strong position to do what he does best: rebound.
“That’s a role Stan gave me a couple weeks ago; he started to run the offense through me because I’m able to move the ball well and find the open guy,” Drummond said. “It takes their bigger guy away from the rim when I do dribble-handoffs and get the offensive rebound on the attack.”
Drummond has had an improved preseason and after his offseason sinus surgery, has played bigger minutes, something that could continue into the regular season. With Drummond’s improved free-throw shooting (16-of-20 in the preseason), he’s more aggressive in the paint, equipped with the confidence to convert at the line if he’s fouled.
“It’s all a mental thing at the end of the day. When I do get up there, I feel like I’m going to make it every time,” Drummond said. “If I do miss, I just shake it off and shoot the same shot against, without any hesitation.”
Good to go
Van Gundy said Langston Galloway had a minor knee issue and didn’t finish the last 10 minutes of practice, but he should be fine for Wednesday’s opener against the Charlotte Hornets at Little Caesars Arena.