Pistons like Ellenson's aggressive offense

Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Pistons' Ish Smith scores over the Thunder's Domantas Sabonis in the first quarter.

Auburn Hills — On the flight home from their western trip, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy took some time to check on his rookies.

He found Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije had some productive time with the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA Development League. And with a full week of practice, they were recalled Sunday and were active for Monday’s game against the Thunder.

“Henry played well offensively and rebounded the ball,” Van Gundy said. “His pick-and-roll communication and defense was good. He struggled with closeouts — and he will more in the D-League than he would here because you’re playing against small-court guys.

“Any of the big guys who go down to the D-League will cover 6-foot-5 guys all night, but it’s good work for them. We talked about that as an area for improvement.”

Ellenson finished with 19 points (6-for-16, 2-for 3-pointers) and nine rebounds in the Drive’s opener, playing power forward.

Van Gundy said he was happy with Ellenson’s aggressiveness on offense, but there was some thought Gbinije would have shown more. Gbinije had eight points (3-for-9), two rebounds and three assists.

Gbinije played small forward, and although his numbers weren’t eye-popping, Van Gundy thought his approach was good.

“I thought Mike took his game as a complementary player offensively to the D-League and played the same way there that he would in the NBA, and played well,” Van Gundy said. “Everybody wants to see when you send a guy down, he puts up big numbers, but sometimes that’s why those guys who are putting up big numbers in the D-League aren’t the guys who help you when they come up.

“Normally, you’re looking for guys who will defend, move the ball and make open shots. … (Putting up big numbers) is not how really Mike normally plays — and that’s not how we really want him to play.”

Van Gundy said there could be other chances for the rookies to play with Grand Rapids this season — including Friday at Canton — and he will examine the schedule and the Pistons needs to decide what works best.

Ellenson just wants to play.

“Any time there’s opportunity where it works out that I can go play, that would be nice,” Ellenson said. “It was good to go down there and do all that.”

Baynes not a concern

Reserve center Aron Baynes has seen him numbers drop — he’s averaging 4.5 points and 3.6 rebounds and shooting 52 percent — but Van Gundy isn’t worried.

“It’s 10 games in and everybody’s numbers are down because we’re not scoring as much,” Van Gundy said. “Some of the starters have more numbers in some ways because of Reggie (Jackson, injured point guard). The bottom line is our offensive numbers are down — I don’t think that’s shocking that that’s where we’d be right now.”

Baynes’ numbers show a drop of almost two points and one rebound in about the same number of minutes (15.1) as last season.

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

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