After coach Dwane Casey made the switch, Robinson answered with 16 points in the loss to the Heat The Detroit News
Detroit — After a slew of slow starts in the first eight games, it was time for Pistons coach Dwane Casey to make a change. The Pistons’ offense has been anemic at times, but especially to start games.
Casey made a nod to the offense, inserting Glenn Robinson III as a starter, in place of Stanley Johnson. It wasn’t an unexpected move, given the shooting struggles that Johnson has had in the early part of the season.
"Our issue has been shooting, not that Stanley’s not. It’s nothing Stanley did wrong. How many games did we lose in a row? Four in a row," Casey said after the loss to the Heat. "So change it up, get spacing, whatever it is to get it, and I thought Glenn came in and gave it to us.
"He came in, gave us shooting and I thought Langston came in and gave us shooting and we got to have guys that are making shots or at least a threat to make a shot and those two guys did it."
Robinson finished with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-4 on 3s. He added two rebounds in 30 minutes.
Robinson was signed as a free agent in the summer and was projected to push for a starting role, having hit 41 percent on 3-pointers last season with the Pacers. At 6-foot-7, he provides another threat on offense, as Johnson had struggled to get his offense going in the early part of the season.
“I knew I when I came here in free agency that I could contribute to this team. I talked to coach Casey and he was the first coach I had talked to in the summer during that free-agency time,” Robinson said. “He expressed to me what my role would be and that there was going to be some competition in the wing spot but he saw some opportunity for me.”
Johnson is averaging 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds but is only shooting 25 percent (8-of-32) on 3-pointers and 35 percent overall in about 28 minutes. The move allows Johnson to play with the second group — which could be better suited to his strengths, as he’d be able to run in transition more with reserve point guard Ish Smith and not be as bogged down in half-court sets with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin.
Johnson, the No. 8 pick in the 2015 draft, has formed his reputation on the defensive end but the offense hasn’t caught up yet. His career numbers: 37 percent from the field and 29 percent on 3-pointers.
Casey lamented the offense struggles, amid the four-game losing streak, where the slow starts pushed them into double-digit deficits, including to the Celtics and Sixers.
The bottom line was missed open shots, which Casey hopes adding Robinson to the starting group will help remedy. He’s confident in the shot selection and that the shots will fall — but the question is when that will happen.
“It’s nothing that’s not fixable or we can’t take care of. Guys are working on those shots and we have to take them with confidence,” Casey said. “We have to continue to move the basketball.”
The Pistons’ shooting woes have been a consistent bugaboo early in the season, but Casey isn’t resisting a knee-jerk reaction by trying to do something to remedy the issues. He kept the starting lineup the same for the first eight games and hasn’t adjusted the approach to how the offense is structured to try to get different shots.
The proof is in his experience with the Raptors, where he faced some of the same challenges — and things worked out.
“I’ve been through it — that’s the reason why. Two or three years ago, we had the same philosophy in Toronto and you have to stick with what you believe in — and we believe in it” Casey said. “I know through hard work, that it will happen and we’ll come through.”
Though the NBA has shifted to more 3-pointers and a faster pace, Casey looks at his experience in Toronto. He’s committed to sticking with his philosophy and waiting for the numbers to balance out and the shots to start falling.
“Everybody was talking about how crazy we were about jacking up way too many threes — and it’s everybody’s idea now,” Casey said. “We have to stick with what we do. The most important thing is taking smart threes. That’s what we’re seeing, taking the smart threes.”
Reggie Bullock missed his second straight game because of a sprained left ankle, which he sustained in the first half of the Nets game last week. He practiced Sunday and was a game-time decision for Monday’s matchup before sitting out again.
It’s another conundrum for the Pistons, who are missing two of their best 3-point shooters and are digging in to the bench and testing their depth to find other options at that guard spot. It’s unclear whether Bullock will make the road trip to Orlando and Atlanta this week.