Pistons’ defense, passing topic of ‘positive’ meeting
Chicago — It wasn’t Reggie vs. Everybody, or anything close.
When the Pistons needed to address some percolating issues, they opted for a players-only meeting following Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. By all accounts, things went well and the players are looking to move forward after airing their grievances.
Andre Drummond was one of the players who spoke, touching on the need to spread the ball around and improve the team’s defense.
“The team meeting was really positive; there were no negatives that could have been said,” Drummond said following Monday’s shootaround at the United Center. “We really needed to air out some situations that we all had the same common ground with.
“We felt like there was a lot of tension because we just added Reggie (Jackson) back so we had to come to grips with the way he plays — it’s not going to be the same type of style that Ish (Smith) plays. We had to put it out there that Reggie demands the ball more than Ish does; we have to get used to playing the same way we used to play last year.”
For coach Stan Van Gundy, it was a positive step to have the players vocalize some of the frustrations and issues, but there has to be action to go with the words. He wasn’t surprised by the leadership that Marcus Morris showed in helping spearhead the meeting, along with Aron Baynes’ suggestion to have it. The next step is to move it forward because those are just empty actions if there isn’t something tangible to come from it.
“Communication is always a positive thing but you’ve got to bring something to the court,” Van Gundy said. “Leadership is what you do on the court. It’s the only way anybody’s going to listen to anything you have to say. It’s really what you get out here; on the court is where you inspire your teammates, not by some raucous speech in the locker room.”
In 21 games with Smith starting and the following eight with Jackson, the Pistons have remained around the .500 mark, but players thrive on their touches and feeling part of the offense. In the Pistons’ case, it’s impacting Drummond, who is the key to their defense.
Drummond admitted that he’s been affected by the change back to Jackson, but he’s looking forward to team success when Jackson gets back to 100 percent and where he was as an effective trigger to the pick-and-roll.
“At the end of the day, we’re all humans. We can’t be mad at each other for that. At the end of the day, we’re all basketball players and we all believe that we deserve to shoot a certain amount of shots but we’re not going to always get those shots. The sooner we realize that, the better,” Drummond said. “For me, I went through a stretch I wasn’t getting certain touches in the paint. It’s human nature to feel that way.
“You have to move on and try to put yourself in a position to help your team win in a different way. Maybe scoring is not in the cards for you that night; maybe I need to grab some rebounds, block shots, get some steals and be a ball-mover.
“When guys start to realize that and see the bigger picture, we’ll be fine.”
Johnson’s offense lagging
Since his short stint in the D-League, Stanley Johnson has been a better contributor as the first wing off the bench and is helping convince Van Gundy that he deserves that playing time.
While he’s struggled for the first quarter of the season, Johnson seems to be finding his identity on defense but is still seeking the offensive effectiveness that Van Gundy thought he might have entering the season.
“He looks better in terms of playing harder and with more confidence. He looks like the guy we had last year with the confidence in play,” Van Gundy said. “But his offensive efficiency is still a problem. At the end of the day, that’s a big part of the job, right?
“Offensively, he’s got to find a way to get the ball in the basket more often. He’s playing better, playing with more energy and playing harder defensively and looks better. We’ll see if it starts to translate into more.”
The NBA announced it’s revamping its process for selecting participants in the All-Star Game. Instead of solely relying on the fan vote for the starters, media and player voting will count 25 percent each, with fan voting comprising the other 50 percent.
Fan voting begins Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.