Jordan McRae scores 15 in Pistons debut

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — After losing Derrick Rose for at least a couple of weeks and being mired in injuries, the Pistons got some needed offensive help.

Guard Jordan McRae, claimed off waivers Wednesday, had 10 of his 15 points in the first half and acclimated quickly to his new surroundings. McRae traveled from Denver on Wednesday afternoon, went straight from the airport to Little Caesars Arena and after a quick medical exam and warm-up, he was ready to play.

McRae, who has three previous years of NBA experience and has played 33 games this season: 29 games with the Washington Wizards and four with the Denver Nuggets. He secured a buyout and was slated to become a free agent before the Pistons put in a waiver claim.

Pistons' Jordan McRae shoots over Thunder's Terrance Ferguson and Nerlens Noel in the fourth quarter.

McRae made it to Detroit in time for Wednesday's game at Little Caesars Arena against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was in uniform and on the active list, ready to play if needed. 

McRae is averaging career highs of  11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33 games and adds to the guard depth that’s been ravaged by injuries and attrition, after Reggie Jackson reached a buyout agreement and left for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Rose suffered a grade-2 ankle sprain on Sunday and will miss at least the next two weeks as he recovers. Bruce Brown, who missed Wednesday’s game, has been in and out of the lineup and Derrick Walton Jr.’s 10-day contract expired over the weekend.

Noted as an adept scorer, McRae also brings needed size to the position, which will make him versatile as a scorer on the wing and in a pinch, at point guard.

“(It’s) the length that he brings at that position. People we talked to said he’s a professional scorer,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ve got to get him going on the defensive end along with that, but getting him acclimated to all the different sets and the actions that we want to run in half-court play or in transition is going to be the big key.

“If he gets the ball in the right place, he's an accomplished scorer with the ball in his hand.”

McRae, 6-foot-5, played four years at Tennessee before being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft by the San Antonio Spurs.

Getting an accomplished scorer this late in the season isn’t normal, but what McRae brings with his versatility will be a welcome addition for a team that’s also lost Luke Kennard for most of the year, as well as nagging injuries to some of the other rotation players.

With a depleted roster, just getting a scorer is a good step.

“A little bit of both (guard spots). I saw some of the clips and film of him with the ball, as, as a ball-handler but I really think that Brandon (Knight) can get it done,” Casey said. “Tony Snell has done an excellent job in our pick-and-roll game. So, we just need a guy who can contribute. Svi (Mykhailiuk) has done it. In a pinch, Jordan McRae can do it also. 

“We have guys here that have worked and everything, so they'll get the first shot at it and we'll find a place to get him into to try to give us some scoring punch off the bench.”

Point of focus

Adding McRae is the latest shift to try to get the backcourt situation settled. Point guard has been the biggest area of concern and the continuous change with Jackson out, Rose injured and several others trying to man the position in the interim has slowed things down on the offensive end.

“I like the way Brandon Knight played the point. We have Jordan Bone in from the G-League, so he will be available to come in and help us out. We also have Langston Galloway,” Casey said. “It’s kind of the rotation of all those perimeter guys in some form or fashion as the game is going on.”

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard