Injury-free Aron Baynes going full tilt in Pistons camp

Rod Beard, The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Aron Baynes got off to a slow start last season because of an ankle injury suffered during training camp.

It took him a while to get into playing shape, and to a point he could contribute consistently.

After a summer that included an Olympics appearance with the Australian national team, Baynes is healthy, in shape and going full bore at camp.

“I always felt like I was a step behind with being limited throughout the preseason and not being able to do too much,” Baynes said Tuesday. “It’s definitely good being in this position and being able to go through everything with the guys as well.”

Baynes had a good first season with the Pistons, averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, but took on a bigger role late when coach Stan Van Gundy elected to pull Andre Drummond late in games for free-throw shooting ( Baynes was at 76 percent).

But there’s no doubt Drummond is the No. 1 option, and Baynes is happy to help in the All-Star’s development as a player and leader.

“He’s out there every possession and not taking any possessions off,” Baynes said. “He’s out there talking and today we were playing different defense than we do for most of the year. He was showing and recovering quickly and talking as well. He’s taking it more on himself from a leadership point of view and leading by example and not just leaning back and using his talent — he’s out there working as well.”

Though Baynes didn’t win a gold medal in Rio, he was able to get some experience, which he hopes to bring to the Pistons.

This season, the reserve group got a facelift, with some the additions of Ish Smith and Jon Leuer, who will look to build chemistry with Baynes and Stanley Johnson.

“Stan (Van Gundy has) brought in some other pieces he thinks can help us. We’re enjoying it in training camp,” Baynes said. “The guys he’s brought in are jelling well with us so far and it’s fun playing alongside them. Hopefully, we’re in a better place than last year and keep getting better.”

Slam dunks

Reggie Jackson has been dealing with left knee tendinitis throughout his career, and Van Gundy has tried to limit him in camp (one practice during two-a-days).

While the knee doesn’t appear to be a serious concern, Jackson missed Tuesday’s practice.

“We’ve got further evaluation going on on what’s going to need to happen with him,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll have to see how long (he might be limited). He’s had this since he came back in September, so it was before camp.

“They were talking to me about this before camp started — that’s why he wasn’t going twice a day. He’s had it on and off; it’s just a case of managing it.”

... Marcus Morris experienced some discomfort in his right ring finger, but is working through the pain. A bigger concern is his conditioning, after he was limited during a couple workouts last week.

“He’ll push himself through stuff but I don’t think he’s worried about his legs,” Van Gundy said. “That’s a couple days and it’s normal stuff; he’s not in bad shape, but he’s not in great shape either.”