Casey says Pistons will still have to earn minutes with their play

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — Coach Dwane Casey isn’t going to just go through the motions. The Pistons’ remaining 25 games aren’t just an exercise in putting out the lineup with the youngest players, looking to get them experience at the expense of things more important to building a winning culture.

In Casey’s second season, the wheels have fallen off the Pistons’ playoff train, but he says he’s not willing to let go of his standards for distributing playing time and for gauging his young players.

Bruce Brown

That means merit, effort and production will help determine who plays, and Casey won't just give more minutes to those with less experience.

“We want to make sure we build a program in the right way, with the right pieces and the right foundation and it’s not about rolling the balls out there and letting guys develop that way,” Casey said after Wednesday’s practice. “Next year or whenever it is, when we get going, the young guys are going to be in that same mode, the guys who are producing. The only way you build a championship-type team is to play the guys who produce.

“If you just roll out there, there's no consequences for mistakes, there's no consequences for lack of discipline, there's no consequences for letting your guy blow by you, then you're not going to have very much when it's all ready to go. It's pretty simple from that standpoint.”

After reaching a buyout agreement with Reggie Jackson on Tuesday, the Pistons are going to have a new-look rotation, but it doesn’t mean that they’re going to throw away the offensive plan and start doing things differently around their nucleus of Christian Wood and Thon Maker.

The Pistons (19-38) had looked to be getting some of their scoring production back with the return of Luke Kennard, but Casey indicated that the wait could be a bit longer as Kennard continues to deal with knee tendinitis.  

“Luke is still a ways away. He's just now beginning to get to the basketball, the physical-contact part so not exactly sure when that timetable is going to be with him, but he is getting closer,” Casey said.

Jackson’s departure means that Kennard is the longest-tenured Pistons player but even in the short-term turnaround is a needed balance of young players and veterans. They’ll still have the same offensive principles, with a focus on 3-point shooting and mixing in some pick-and-roll.

“It’s a lot of the same things I ran in Toronto that we’re running now. That’s what I know and it’s our system,” Casey said. “We have to adjust it a little bit and not totally change it just because of the personnel. We want to make it more for to fit who we have now. We still have good pieces with Christian Wood at (power forward), Markieff Morris and Sekou (Doumbouya).”

One issue with purging the roster is that there’s not as much continuity but the veterans such as Derrick Rose, Langston Galloway and Morris will help hold things together. Most of the Pistons’ remaining roster is under the age of 25, so having some vets around still will be beneficial.

“It’s very important but the problem is they’re new. Derrick Rose is new; it’s his first year here,” Casey said. “Him being a vet in the league, it’s important. Derrick is a guy who leads by example and Markieff is a voice in the locker room, so it’s important for those guys, too.”

Though Bruce Brown has been a plug-in point guard, Jackson’s departure also is going to provide some opportunities for him to slide in there, but it’s not on a full-time basis. At times this season, Brown has looked uncomfortable, but he has had some high-assist games where he’s looked more comfortable.

“Bruce, going forward, is probably not going to be a point guard. That's for free agency, draft and all that, but again the experience he's getting there is going to help him to tread water and have to be a secondary ball-handler,” Casey said. “So, again, hopefully we give Bruce more time as his natural spot as a (scoring guard) more than a (point guard).”

Bucks at Pistons

Tip-off: 7 Thursday, Little Caesars Arena

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Pistons (19-38) have the second-toughest remaining schedule in the league and pick up after the All-Star break with the Bucks (46-8) who have the best record. The Pistons are on a four-game losing streak; Milwaukee has won 14 of 16.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard