Newcomers a boon to Pistons backcourt
Auburn Hills — The backcourt looks a bit different for the Pistons this season. They moved on from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, released Darrun Hilliard and moved Stanley Johnson to his better-suited position at small forward.
The additions of Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard have given new shape and form to their options at shooting guard — and that could be one of their biggest positions of improvement over last season.
Bradley is the headliner in that group, with a well-known resume around the league from his defensive prowess in his years with the Celtics. Although he goes about his business quietly, his work ethic is already making an impact on his new teammates.
“He’s just really good. You can ask any of these guys about him. We all knew who he was: he’s a guy with great speed and quickness who plays hard all the time,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s a great shooter coming off handoffs and pick-and-roll, he shoots the 3 and is an elite defender.”
That’s a good match for a rookie like Kennard, who has been impressive in early workouts, continuing his strong play from the Orlando Summer League, at which he validated the Pistons’ selection with the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft.
Through the first couple of practices in training camp, that’s been a good learning relationship for Kennard, playing against Bradley and Galloway and learning the ropes.
“Avery is such a smart player, so to go against a guy like that every day, you feel like you learn so much every possession against him or with him,” Kennard said Wednesday. “He’s a competitor and plays so hard, you follow that because he gives everybody a sense of urgency when he’s on the floor.
“Being able to watch him (on defense) and what he does on the floor and what he thinks about the game while it’s going on, you can take part of what he does and put it in your own game.”
Galloway, still recovering from a bone bruise in his right knee, is limited to one practice during two-a-days but gets a little work after the morning session going against Reggie Jackson.
Galloway can play both guard spots and adds versatility to the position that could make him a valuable piece of the backcourt puzzle. He was signed as an insurance piece, in case Jackson has tendinitis issues, as he did in missing 30 games last season.
Drummond looking good
Tuesday evening’s practice included a 5-on-5 scrimmage, which Van Gundy described as “frantic and sloppy, but with a lot of energy and intensity.” It’s typical of the early stages of training camp, but there were some areas that Van Gundy liked especially.
Andre Drummond, who was limited by a sprained ankle, has participated in all of the practices so far. More than that, though, Van Gundy said that Drummond’s consistent performances have been one of the early bright spots.
“He’s been really good and his focus has been tremendous. More than anybody, he’s tried to play to his strengths and things we’ve talked about,” Van Gundy said. “His focus and energy have both been outstanding.
“We’ve only had three practices but so far he’s been really, really good.”
Meet and greet
Pistons fans will get their first chance to get up close and personal with the players during a “Meet the Team” event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3 at Little Caesars Arena.
Tickets are free and are available on a first-come, first-served basis through Ticketmaster at www.pistons.com/meettheteam but will not be available on the day of the event.
The evening will include player introductions, offensive and defensive walk-throughs, shooting competitions and skills demonstrations and a presentation by the Pistons Performance Team.
Doors to the arena open at 6:45 and parking is available at the Olympia Development Red parking garages and surface lots surrounding Little Caesars Arena. More information on parking is available at www.pistons.com/gameday.