Team Blue beats Team Grey at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — The Pistons finally got away from the grind of practice and got closer to a game atmosphere. Sort of.
The Pistons wrapped up a week of training camp in Ann Arbor with an open scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Crisler Center, before a crowd of just more than 4,000.
The standout was Andre Drummond, who had 25 points on an array of scoring — including a 3-pointer — and helped the Blue Team to a 73-66 victory.
Here are five observations from the scrimmage:
1. The starting lineup for the Blue Team was Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, Blake Griffin and Drummond. That could be the starting lineup to start the regular season, but coach Dwane Casey said it was more to balance the lineups.
“That’s just balance today. I told guys it doesn’t matter whether you start or come off the bench. Everybody will have their opportunity. We’ll make a decision in the next couple weeks,” Casey said. “Don’t read anything to who plays less or who starts. It may be that second unit that bails us out a lot of nights and we’re trying to develop a mesh and continuity with that second unit.”
Johnson was a defensive presence, especially when guarding Glenn Robinson III. That’ll be a matchup to watch as the rest of the preseason progresses.
2. Drummond was the best player on the court, showing the full variety of his offensive game. He went 1-of-4 on 3-pointers and seemed comfortable taking shots from anywhere on the court, which is a departure from his previous years.
“I got my shackles off, plain and simple. I was able to play my game freely and took shots I was supposed to take that I know I can make and have fun with it,” Drummond said. “The open practice was more for the fans, but I showcased a lot of different things that I can do this season.”
Drummond hit another long jumper and displayed an array of moves around the basket. He seemed more energetic on the defensive end, with a couple blocked shots and active hands to defend the passing lanes.
“That’s a carryover to the offensive end. There’s something about when you’re active defensively and touching the ball, all those things carry over to the offensive end,” Casey said. “It gives you confidence to run the floor and offensive rebound and in his case, shoot the 3 and hit free throws.”
3. Robinson and Johnson are going to have a good back-and-forth for the starting spot at small forward. It’s unlikely that both of them will start, but as Casey said, it’s not a reflection with who starts the game; they both place the emphasis on who finishes. Robinson hit a couple of jumpers and looked quick and athletic around the rim. He had a lot of rehab in the summer but he’s getting back to the uber-athletic shape that he’s known for. Johnson had trouble with his jump shot early but with the rest of the starters around him, he won’t need to press as much to score.
4. Langston Galloway still has it. He had a diminished role last season but he chipped in 17 points, with three 3-pointers. He’s been down the depth chart since the middle of last season, but he could be getting a longer look this year if his shot continues to fall.
“He’s a secret weapon; whether he’s coming off the bench or starting, it doesn’t matter,” Casey said. “He’s a big-time scorer — that’s what he brings to the team.”
5. Reggie Jackson played just the first half — in sweatpants — but he looked to be getting back to his old self, running a nice pick-and-roll with Drummond and commanding the offense. He scored a couple of nice baskets, on a coast-to-coast drive and a floater, just before halftime. Though he’s been cleared medically to play in full, he still looked a step slow and not total up to speed defensive, but Casey believes that will return in the next couple of weeks.
“Reggie looked good. For a young man to be off as long as he’s been off and come back in condition and he’s never lost confidence, he’s looked really good,” Casey said.
“He’s still rusty in certain areas — reading situations and defensively — but we’re pleased with where he is.”