Van Gundy remains upbeat about Pistons' shooting

Vincent Goodwill Jr.
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — One area where the Pistons were expected to immediately improve in the offseason through better coaching and better personnel was 3-point shooting.

After three games, though, the team's output looks just as poor as it did last season, when it seemed like players were in competition for who could chuck the worst attempts the fastest.

According to NBA.com, the Pistons are shooting 3-for-20 (15 percent) on corner threes, statistically the easiest and best 3-pointer to take. Not to get bogged down in boring details, the Pistons are shooting 22 percent from the left corner and 9.1 percent from the right corner, where the league averages are 34 and 39 percent, respectively.

Overall, the Pistons are shooting just 22 percent, second-worst behind the Boston Celtics, a team that has no delusions of becoming a 3-point shooting team — but the Celtics have a win, and the Pistons are lumped in with the Lakers, 76ers and Magic in the winless column.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy isn't as concerned with the bad shooting as he is with the defensive rebounding, where he said they should be great but are in the middle of the pack thus far.

But he pulled out his Miguel Cabrera comparison, going back to the days when Cabrera struggled early after being traded to the Tigers before the 2008 season

"At the end of the year, he's gonna hit .300, 30 home runs, 100 RBI. Why? Because that's what he does," said Van Gundy, who has followed Cabrera's career since he started with the Florida Marlins while Van Gundy was coaching the Heat and Magic.

With Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, Caron Butler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being better shooters than they've displayed, he said the percentages will ultimately balance out.

"I thought D.J. hesitated on a couple threes (Saturday)," Van Gundy said. "You're gonna shoot 40 percent from 3. That's who you are. But 3-point shooting (is) like hitting in the major leagues. If you're gonna hit .333 like Cabrera, you don't go 1-for-3 every night. You go 0-for-3 then 2-for-4."

Van Gundy's faulty math aside, things are magnified because the Pistons are winless and the expectation was for immediate dividends, not missing open threes in moments that could've swung momentum in winnable games.

"We've got to be concerned with our execution and quality of shots we're getting," Van Gundy said. "Guys are going to shoot the ball the way they shoot the ball.

"We need to get quality shots. Granted, we got really good looks in the fourth quarter (against the Nets Saturday) that could've kept us in the game. Over the course of the game, we didn't get as many good looks."

The reason for the lack of open shots is quietly the same reason the Pistons aren't as good on the defensive glass as they should be: the little things from the big men, like boxing out and setting quality screens to get shooters open.

Granted, good fundamentals might not have changed anything recently. The Pistons missed five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to the Nets — the polish on an ugly 1-for-17 showing — and four came during the Nets' decisive 17-4 run after the Pistons had taken a one-point lead.

Caldwell-Pope is shooting 13 percent from 3-point range, while Augustin has shot 23 percent and Butler is at 33. Brandon Jennings hasn't yet made a three, and neither has Josh Smith, although that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Only Kyle Singler's clip of 36 percent is close to his average from last season (38 percent).

"If you get good shots, you live with the results," Van Gundy said. "Some nights everything goes in and you talk about how good your offense is. Other nights, it doesn't go in and you talk about 'too many jumpers' or whatever it is. It's all different, whether it goes in or not."

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