Beard: Starting Wright makes sense; Doumbouya shines again for Pistons

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

The Pistons played their first road game of the preseason, facing the Washington Wizards on Thursday at Capital One Arena. They got their second win, 97-86, in what was their best outing of the preseason so far.

Here are some observations:

Detroit Pistons guard Delon Wright (55) shoots next to Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija (9) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Washington.

►WRIGHT START: After the first two preseason games, there have been some questions about why Delon Wright is in the starting lineup. He provided a glimpse into the upside of having another experienced ball-handler and shooter in the starting group with his performance in the first half.

Wright had 10 points in 8 minutes, including a dazzling step-back 3-pointer against the Wizards' Isaac Bonga in the first quarter. Wright had back-to-back 3-pointers and went 4-of-5 in the first half. Having someone to take some of that pressure off Killian Hayes is the intention but having a scorer from the outside who can generate additional offense is the upside of putting Wright with the starters.

Detroit Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya (45) hangs on the rim after dunking during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Washington.

►MORE SEKOU: After scoring 23 points in 18 minutes in Sunday’s win, Sekou Doumbouya had 10 points in 9 minutes in the first half. He was good on both ends of the court, but especially with the ball, cutting through the lane for an open basket and also filling lanes in transition for more opportunities.

He hit an open 3-pointer and got to the free-throw line, showing his versatility in different areas on the court. He doesn’t need plays called for him offensively, but he’s getting more comfortable with where he needs to be on the court and is ready to shoot when he gets it. That’s going to pay off more often than not if he’s able to do that often in the regular season.

►PLUMLEE PASSES: In the first two games, Mason Plumlee had fairly pedestrian numbers, but he played a solid first half, with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.

With the starting lineup around him, Plumlee doesn’t need to be a prolific scorer, but Dwane Casey and other players have commented on Plumlee’s passing ability and ball-handling. He flashed some of that skill in the first half, including a between-the-legs pass to Svi Mykhailiuk for an easy lay-up.

The focus will be on some of the other players besides the centers, so any other contributions are more than welcome from Plumlee. With his increased scoring, the Pistons didn’t need for Blake Griffin to do much. Griffin didn’t attempt a field goal until the third quarter, because the Pistons were doing so well offensively.

►JACKSON MINUTES: Along with Doumbouya, Jackson had a nice first half, with his ability to cut and get to the rim and also showcased his 3-point shooting. Jackson had 10 points and went 2-of-3 on 2-pointers and 2-of-3 on 3-pointers. Coming off the bench, he provides another big wing who can handle the ball and score when needed.

Alongside Doumbouya, it’s a long and lanky set of wings who can complement Derrick Rose’s scoring. When he’s hitting 3-pointers, he’s a tough player to defend because of his size and ability to drive. He’ll continue to get minutes but if he can keep his production level where it is, he could get some run in the fourth quarter to finish games as well.

►DEFENSE: The Pistons continued to play well defensively, through their first three preseason games. They’ve shown a bit of the 2-3 zone in the first two games, but they also swarmed the ball in Thursday’s game, with a fast pace and more involvement by the guards to try to stop penetration in the paint.

Derrick Rose got a block in the post and started a transition break the other way.

They look to be a better team on a better team individually on defense too, which will be a big help.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard