Detroit — With the Pistons’ preseason slate finishing up, the focus over the next few days will go from assessing on-court performance to figuring out what the potential rotation and playing time will be.
It’s hard to tell from the preseason because of the minutes structure, along with coach Dwane Casey’s desire to play deeper into the bench to get a look at some of the reserves and gauge their readiness to play bigger minutes. The starting unit seems to be set but how the competition for the final roster spot plays out is the biggest unknown.
Barring a trade, that decision most likely will come down to Joe Johnson and Christian Wood. And in talking to some people around the league, if Wood is released, he would be a probable target for almost every team because of the efficient production he’s had in the preseason.
There are some other lingering questions, some of which are addressed in this week’s mailbag:
► Question: What are the chances they get any kind of return on a possible Langston Galloway deal? — @mwaxy123
► Answer: Galloway’s contract expires after this season but there seems to be a place for him in the rotation. Casey and the coaching staff value 3-point shooting and although Galloway can be streaky, he’s still of value to the bench group.
He brings a professionalism that the young players can emulate and is a decent defender. There’s no indication — at least right now — that the Pistons are looking seriously to trade Galloway. However, that could change ahead of the trade deadline, if they want to get some value for him because, for example, they have a losing record ahead of the deadline.
Galloway’s $7.3 million will be tough for another team to take on, at least without some other maneuvering, because there aren’t many teams with that much cap space available.
► Q. So Sekou (Doumbouya) isnt playing at all this season, right? — @Joe_Truck
► A. He will. It might be for the Grand Rapids Drive in the G-League, with some time with the Pistons sprinkled in. From the small sample size of one game in Summer League and a couple games in the preseason, there still is some work to do in getting Doumbouya stronger and more aggressive in the paint. He’s played more around the perimeter and at his size, he will want to become more of a force in the post to augment his game.
It’s unclear how much seasoning he might need before he’s ready to become a regular contributor, but I wouldn’t expect him to be in the playing rotation and getting nightly minutes, at least not immediately. It could happen, but it will take some time to get to that point.
► Q. I’m praying Blake (Griffin) will stay healthy for the most part through the Reg. Season/Playoffs. I’m guessing were just being cautious because it’s preseason and it’s hopefully not that terrible. — @HMccadie
► A. Griffin has been conspicuously quiet in the preseason. He played well in the second exhibition game, a win over the Mavericks, but didn’t look to be at full speed. He could be ramping up to be ready for the regular-season opener on Oct. 23 but playing in only two games and missing the last three was surprising.
The injury designation for those games was hamstring soreness, which is a different concern, but it could be all just precautionary to ensure he’s ready for the opener. About a week to go before it really matters, it’s just a waiting game to see how the medical staff and training staff handle Griffin this season.
Again, it all seems just conservative, trying to make sure he’s healthy to start the year.
► Q. With the Pistons having so much weakness at the guard position (defensively based upon RAPM) what type of lineup would you see us rolling out in a crunch time situation during regular season? — @al_terrific
► A. I would guess the prime-time guard group is Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose and Luke Kennard but the questions about the defense in that group are well founded. There could be some other permutations with Bruce Brown and/or Tony Snell seeing some time, depending on the situation. That’s one of the better things about the Rose and Snell acquisitions — they fill immediate needs on offense and they can compensate for the defense with other players but just giving Casey options was a priority.