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Shooting, speed are keys to fixing Pistons offense

Vincent Goodwill Jr.
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — One downside to the Pistons' front-heavy lineup: Their focus on getting the ball inside can bog down the offense, with players standing around watching.

They have advantages to exploit, by getting the ball to Greg Monroe and Josh Smith on the block, and possibly giving Andre Drummond a chance to work with his back to the basket.

But while using the available personnel to best advantage, they run the risk of becoming too predictable, as is evidenced by them being 27th in scoring at 93 points per game, and 29th in assists with 18 per night.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said early in the preseason it would take him longer to get a handle on the offensive end than on defense, where results are usually more predicated on effort.

Eleven games into the season, the returns on defense have been inconsistent, and the offense is a few steps behind that.

"There's some things I need to adjust and I think the offense is gonna take a little longer, so our emphasis is on the defensive end on the floor," Van Gundy said. "We need a little better pace, a lot more pick and rolls for easier ball movement.

"I think I'm gaining a better handle on what I want to do. Now it's a matter of getting some more things in and executing those things. I think there's some things we execute pretty well and others we don't."

On the "good" side of things, they're shooting 36 percent from the 3-point line, putting them just outside the top 10. That number should climb when Jodie Meeks returns in mid-December.

But with Smith shooting at a career-low 37 percent — and despite popular belief, that number isn't due to bad shot selection — it has to be rectified. Van Gundy said the problem can be solved by getting Smith the ball in spots where he can take it to the basket.

"I think we gotta do a better job of running the offense, crisper and faster," Smith said. "We do a good job of moving the ball, and not getting into 'butter' situations."

"Butter" is the call from the sidelines when the shot clock is down to five seconds or less, which leads to rushed shots.

"Guys have to make quick decisions, we've been getting the ball to each other in timely possessions and timely spots," Smith said. "That's what we have to do during games. We get a little lethargic in the half-court offense, we have to do a better job at it."

The Pistons will also need to run more. They are still a very young team, and relying solely on execution isn't their best option.

"For sure. We have to initially push the basketball, we need more transition buckets, get Andre some lobs," Smith said. "Whenever you get easy buckets it opens the game up that much more but if you always have to figure out how you're gonna get your points in the half-court, it makes it that much more difficult."