Auburn Hills — While the Pistons have had some time to work together in voluntary workouts and get to know each other during the summer, Tuesday's start to training camp was the first official day of practice and was somewhat like the first day of school.
The get-to-know-you phase shifted from those informal practices to working on techniques and defenses in two-a-day sessions Tuesday morning and evening at the practice facility. That continues all week, ahead of the start of the preseason schedule, on Tuesday against the Pacers at The Palace.
With several new additions to the roster, it'll take some time to get used to each other's strengths and weaknesses and figure out how their games will mesh. The first elements of that mosaic came together with some of the first workouts Tuesday morning, which ended with some 5-on-5 work, before more specific installations of offensive and defensive sets came in the evening session.
"I thought we were pretty good. We only went 5-on-5 about the last 25 minutes where we went live," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We did some 5-on-0 work putting some stuff in and a lot of teaching. The hard part of it, where we were going live was only about an hour and 30 minutes.
"Guys competed, worked defensively. I was happy with the first practice."
It's too early to tell what all the roles will be, but the sure bet is that point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond will be the nucleus of a heavy pick-and-roll offense, while newly acquired big man Ersan Ilyasova will provide some perimeter shooting.
Beyond that, there's a lot more role definition to be done before the regular season starts on Oct. 27. With new pieces Marcus Morris, Steve Blake, Aron Baynes and Reggie Bullock, there are plenty more unknowns, but some of that will be sorted out in the next couple of weeks, in games and in practice.
For Van Gundy, gaining that identity will take some time, but it's all part of the process of training camp and the preseason — and setting a specific timetable is nearly impossible.
"You just don't know; you come out here every day and work and when it happens, it happens," Van Gundy said. "It takes time. I don't think anybody can predict. Some things happen quicker than others; we'll have to see."
With so much roster turnover from the beginning of last season, there are only a handful of players left from the "old" regime — such as Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Jennings, Anthony Tolliver — but the new pieces will find their way to fit into the puzzle, using Jackson and Drummond as a lead.
"Ilyasova, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes and Steve Blake are all playing with new guys," Van Gundy said. "That's where it becomes hard. The guys who played together last year have a little bit of that and know each other's games."
Baynes (ankle) and Jennings (Achilles) are coming off injuries and working their way back into playing shape, but are limited in how much they'll do in training camp. Baynes will participate in one of the two-a-day sessions during camp and Jennings has been cleared for limited duty, but won't be available until likely November.
As Baynes gets back to playing shape, the Pistons will keep an eye on how much he does.
"(Baynes) went 5-on-5 and came out at the very end and put ice on it," Van Gundy said. "He went up and down for probably 15-20 minutes of the 30 and did all the drill work before.
"The plan with him is he can't go twice a day so he's going to try to do as much of the 5-on-5 as he can. He'll get treatment at night and Brandon will be just the opposite because all he can do is the shooting and lifting and stuff. Brandon will do treatment and rehab in the morning and be with us at night."