Auburn Hills — Although the Pistons selected Stanley Johnson with the No. 8 pick in the draft, he might not be the starter when the season begins on Oct. 27.
Johnson, a 6-fooot-6 small forward, has flashed his potential in summer-league games and in the first two days of practice, but it’s not a given that he’ll step right in and start.
Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy has said he’d like to bring Johnson along slowly.
In the roster overhaul between the end of last season and throughout the summer, Van Gundy wanted to have options at the position. The trade with the Phoenix Suns that brought Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger for a second-round draft pick might yield the other starting candidate.
So far, Morris has stood out as a starting option, if Van Gundy chooses to go in that direction.
“I’ll do whatever I think is best for the team; I’m not really settled in on anything right now,” Van Gundy said. “Certainly, heading into it, I would look at Marcus, but we’ll see how it goes.”
In his fifth season, Morris, at 6-foot-9, can play either small forward or power forward, and gives an option in the post — a skill sorely needed with the departure of Greg Monroe — along with Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes.
With more 5-on-5 scrimmages Wednesday, Van Gundy got a chance to see what options he has going forward with Morris, along with his other power forwards, Anthony Tolliver and Ersan Ilyasova.
“Andre, Aron and Marcus are our top three guys in the post, but Stanley can get down there and we saw our 4-men both get down there, Tolliver and Ersan,” Van Gundy said.
“(Morris has) got good post-up abilities because he can face up and shoot the jumper, he can back you down, he can turn over either shoulder and he can make passes out of the post. He’s really good.
“Going back to his college days, he hasn’t gotten as many opportunities down there, in Phoenix, but he’s pretty good down there in the post.”
Even if Johnson starts the regular season as a reserve, it may not be simply because Morris is better; it could be a conscious decision to have a more versatile scorer coming off the bench and leading the second unit.
But Van Gundy will use some of the preseason, which begins Tuesday, to start experimenting with starting lineups and determining units that work well together.
“That ends up being a lot of the decision too,” Van Gundy said. “You’re not necessarily just starting your best five guys. I’m a long way from determining lineups.”