Mailbag: Dwane Casey working on Pistons' rebuild structure, and what to do with Jerami Grant
There are many schools of thought in how to structure a rebuild. One way suggests giving the Pistons’ young players all the minutes they can handle, where they can do on-the-job training and relish in their successes and learn from their mistakes.
There’s another philosophy where those youngsters have to earn minutes, starting with whatever amount they can handle competently and build up as they show more ability to play well in longer spurts.
On a team that has started 3-11, there’s room for considering either philosophy, and it often falls to the coach or to the front office in how they want to distribute that playing time for the long-term future development of the franchise and those players.
Coach Dwane Casey has said he doesn’t want to throw the young players into the deep end of the pool, where they might not be able to handle the workload.
“One thing that happens when you do it that way is you learn bad habits. It takes just as long to get rid of those habits once you do turn the corner, as it does building them,” Casey said last week. “That's why you want to build good habits, winning habits and winning plays. Once you throw a guy out there in the deep end, you learn a lot of bad habits.”
It's been a fluctuation in minutes that’s been confusing for some, where young players such as Saddiq Bey, Svi Mykhailiuk and Sekou Doumbouya see their playing time go up and down, which can be gauged as inconsistent, and even unfair.
Casey clarified this week that the issue isn’t about rewarding them for good play — or even penalizing them for poor play. Sometimes, it’s based off situations and getting the best player for a certain possession or end-game play.
“It's so important to have veterans in there to go out there and set the tone like we do with Wayne and the guys we have, to see exactly how guys work, exactly how you come of the screen at full speed, the right winning plays, whether you make it or miss it,” Casey said. “They're great examples for that and at the same time, you're competing to win. Whether you win, lose or draw, you're learning winning habits.”
This week’s Mail Satchel breaks down questions about Jerami Grant’s value, Derrick Rose as a trade piece and the balance between winning now and developing for later:
Question: Should they be playing the rookies more? It's not like they are stacking wins. – @mullysalt
Answer: For the stated goal of developing the rookies this season, it’s very reasonable to think that they should be getting a lot more playing time. But, to Casey’s point, there’s something to be said for having them learn how to do things the right way from the veterans. Playing young guys like Sekou Doumbouya 30 minutes per game could be maddening for the number of mistakes he could make — and then it could be a revelation for the type of player he could become.
The early signs for Saddiq Bey have been good and Isaiah Stewart is getting every opportunity to show what he has. The issue with Stewart is that he’s constantly in foul trouble, which limits his playing time. I’m not for blindly giving young guys playing time, because that also can breed an unworthy sense of entitlement.
Like it or not, Blake Griffin and Mason Plumlee have earned that through their play in their careers, so it’s not going to be completely fair in terms of minutes distribution. As the season goes on, I suspect those minutes will tilt in the favor of the young players, but it doesn’t have to be all at once in the first quarter of the season.
Q1: Is Jerami Grant being moved at deadline a possibility. If so, what kind of return would the Pistons be looking for? – @RajunCajunE
Q2: Is J Grant someone you can build around? Do you see him as a rising star in the league? – @b3winstoo
A: I paired these together because it shows the disparate viewpoints that fans have. Grant probably could be moved at the deadline, but for what — more picks or more young players? The goal is to get a youngish veteran that the team can build around and who has a contagious work ethic and a high ceiling for production. Grant has shown all of that this season, so although he’d be worth a lot on the trade market, it would set the rebuild back even further.
He seems to be someone to build around, and given the relationship that he has with general manager Troy Weaver, it’s highly unlikely that Weaver would turn around and deal Grant so quickly. Grant made a decision to leave the Nuggets because he wanted the exact type of opportunity he’s getting with the Pistons, with expanding his role and being a centerpiece for the franchise.
Q: Saw reports that Derrick Rose doesn’t want to be traded....still feel like he is the most tradeable asset we have (though I think Ellington is a sneaky possibility as well)...do you think he ends the year with the Pistons? – @MotorCityHoops
A: After the Killian Hayes injury, I think it leans more toward Rose staying. Sure, there doesn’t seem to be a point to having him languish on a losing team, but there’s something that he brings to the culture-building that the Pistons are trying to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pistons chose to trade him, especially if they could get a first-round pick in return. That remains to be seen, with the trade deadline still about two months away. It at least warrants a discussion if a team comes with a good offer for him.
Q: It seems to me that this team is coming so tantalizingly close to winning, such as the 2nd game with Atlanta, that it is very difficult for Casey to commit to getting the rookies some necessary crunch time experience. Your thoughts?
A: They’re not going to tank games. Casey is too much of a competitor to just accept losing, especially this early in the season. The Pistons have had a difficult schedule and haven’t been blown out in games like many expected this season. That’s something to build on, but they’ve also squandered a handful of double-digit leads that could have made their record a bit better than 3-11. The rookies need to get playing time, but it’s been a mixed bag in how those minutes have been doled out. If the losing continues like this for a few more weeks, much of this likely will start to swing in the other direction.
PISTONS VS. ROCKETS
Tipoff: 7 Friday, Little Caesars Arena
Outlook: The Rockets (4-9) still are undergoing a big change after trading James Harden. Former Pistons forward Christian Wood (23.5 points, 10.8 rebounds) is having an All-Star season, but he’s likely to miss the game because of a sprained ankle.