Pistons rookie Ellenson showing 3-point acumen

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Henry Ellenson checks the Pacers' Joe Young on Tuesday.

Orlando, Fla. — As the Pistons make their way through their Orlando Summer League schedule, a few issues start to clear up.

Despite injuries to two key players — Darrun Hilliard sustained a stress fracture in his lower back, and Michael Gbinije sprained his right foot — the team has accomplished many of its goals.

Associate coach Bob Beyer, leading the Summer League roster, shuffled the lineup and gave more minutes to Lorenzo Brown and Tekale Cotton to make up for the injured players.

While the roster, loaded with big men, doesn’t have the same backcourt depth, the players have been good enough to win three games.

Here are some key thoughts from the week:

Big man Henry Ellenson raised eyebrows with his 3-point shooting and perimeter ball-handling

The early indication is the rookie will get some playing time, but likely won’t be a starter or the first big man off the bench. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Ellenson will need to work on consistency with his jump shot.

Ellenson also showed a knack for getting to the free-throw line

With slower big men guarding him and his release from odd angles, he got defenders out of position. It’s easy to see how that skill-set could fit into the Pistons system — even more than Ersan Ilyasova was last season.

Second-year forward Stanley Johnson hasn’t looked as sharp as last season

That’s by design, though. The plan was for Johnson to build his weaker skills — driving to his left, a consistent 3-pointer, and attacking more on pick-and-rolls. During games, he’s driven left and missed some shots he would have made with his right.

Johnson has an extra gear not seen yet

In Tuesday’s victory, he made two 3-pointers in the final two minutes. He was 1-for-15, before those two makes, in 11-plus quarters. Johnson has been working on his mechanics, and if it comes together, he’ll have the boost he needs to be a two-way threat.

Brown has been one of the biggest surprises

He’s been a leader on the court, and Van Gundy called him the most consistent and best players. The Pistons entered the offseason looking for a third point guard, but with Brown’s emergence, he will be in the mix.

Gbinije didn’t look comfortable at point guard

At 6-foot-7, Gbinije would provide a decided height advantage, but his ball-handling and decision-making skills were less than ideal in the one game he played. He was more effective on the wings, which could be his long-term role.

The Pistons won’t rush Ellenson and Gbinije

Agreeing to terms with free agents Ish Smith and Jon Leuer at the same positions provided depth that ensures the rookies can develop slowly. Depending on camp, they could see few minutes early then increase as the season progresses.

Big men Kaleb Tarczewski and Jordan Bachynski have been solid

Tarczewski showed some flashes Tuesday, and Bachynski has scrapped for rebounds the first three games. Tarczewski, Johnson’s former teammate at Arizona, will need more strength, and Bachynski more seasoning to make the roster.