Van Gundy: Forwards need to do more intricate work
Auburn Hills — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy knew there would be challenges with a Reggie Jackson-less offense.
Last season, the team primarily ran plays through pick-and-rolls with Jackson. But with the starting point guard shelved for the first 10-20 regular-season games, Van Gundy said the offense will need to rely on two areas that need improvement: ball movement and screening.
“We got a lot of guys right now who just want to go one-on-one and get their shots so we're not getting quality shots,” Van Gundy said after Wednesday’s practice. “We're not getting to second pick-and-rolls and things like that, so we need a lot of work. We spent a lot of time on it today and will require a great deal more work."
In the exhibition opener against the Nets last week, the Pistons had 23 turnovers and 21 assists on 39 made field goals. They followed that up with 14 turnovers and 20 assists on 35 made field goals in Monday’s exhibition against the Spurs.
Van Gundy said it hasn’t been an issue of point guard play. Rather, the forwards have to get more pick-and-rolls and dribble handoffs and perimeter players have to do a better job of waiting and coming off screens.
“We had a lot of guys as soon they touch the ball, they want to put their head down, put it on the floor,” he said. “More often than not, they're taking ourselves into trouble."
Van Gundy added they’ve been able to move the ball well off set plays and on fast breaks but struggle at the end of sets and coming up the floor without a play called.
“Right now, we're trying to get them to play together a little bit more,” Van Gundy said. “We got too many guys that are just trying to do it themselves, so we need some guys to facilitate the offense, to move the ball, to go to pick-and-rolls.”
In an effort to promote better ball movement, Van Gundy limited the player’s ability to dribble in practice and no one was allowed to drive the ball in the half court.
“The guys who just want to put their head down and go on every catch were forced into some very uncomfortable situations,” Van Gundy said. “As we told them, if playing that way worked, then I'd be fine with it. But it clearly hasn't, so we need to make some adjustments and to do that we're going to have to give it some conscious thought.”
Center Andre Drummond has shown off his improved post offense the first two exhibitions, recording 34 points on 16-for-33 shooting.
Drummond said he worked on being patient down low over the summer and feels comfortable with the shots he’s taking. He added going up against 7-foot-3 center Boban Marjanovic in practice has also boosted his low post game.
“The shots I take revolve around me getting it over him,” Drummond said. “So when I play against guys who are my height or even shorter than me, it's like night and day.
“It actually makes my shot selection easier because some shots I wouldn't even take on him because I know he'll block it. Knowing that if I took the same shot against somebody else, more times than not I'll make the shot."
Rookie Michael Gbinije said he’s surprised himself with how well he’s adjusted on defense after playing in Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone for three years and dismissed the idea Syracuse players can’t be effective playing man-to-man when they make it to the pros.
“Coming out of Syracuse, any player is going to be tested defensively,” Gbinije said. “That's something I try to kind of make an effort to prove just to get that stigma out of the way from me.”
… When asked if there’s been any separation in the battles between point guards Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum Jr. and reserves Reggie Bullock and Darrun Hilliard, Van Gundy said: "Because of the way we've been playing, that hasn't even been a concern. I just want to get everybody in there playing the game better. We'll make those decisions later. It's not my concern right now."