Embed from Getty Images Here we stand, a little more than two disastrous months , and Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has turned the Pistons into a playoff contender. The Pistons bottomed out at seven games below .500 in early February. Even as losses piled up there were signs that the team’s offense was beginning to turn the corner.
The once left for dead, the Pistons are two games over .500 now and in possession of the East’s No. 6 seed. Making it a real possibility Detroit makes the playoffs for just the second time in the past 10 seasons.
Last season Dwane Casey won NBA coach of the year with the Toronto Raptors. While Casey likely will not repeat that honor this season. Detroit Pistons fans can see exactly why he is a very good head coach. Casey’s positivity has been huge too.
The Pistons shot 33.1% from the 3-point line in their first 50 games, last in the NBA. They’ve shot 39.2% in their last 20 games, first in the league. With the team getting more production than just Blake Griffin.
What has happened to spur the Detroit Pistons turnaround? Look no further than the Pistons the bench. Starting the season this unit was awful to put it kindly. The first 50 games of the season Detroit was -1.2 plus/minus, averaging 33.3 points per-game.
Now Detroit are at 0.7 plus/minus, while averaging 40.6 points per-game. Due to the fact that Dwane Casey has been far less rigid than his predecessor, Stan Van Gundy. Casey rides hot players and tinkers with his rotation.
Through it all, Casey has brought this bunch of Detroit Pistons back into the thick of the playoff picture. A far more difficult task than the one he had last season in Toronto.
Embed from Getty Images No longer in a starting position, Detroit Pistons Luke Kennard has become a super sub and given strength to the Pistons bench. Detroit fans argue that he’s a better shooter than Wayne Ellington and slightly better defense than starter Bruce Brown.
Basketball is about the best 5 starters on the court. However, the Detroit Pistons and head coach Dwane Casey seem to be on to something. By taking the starting role away from Kennard his play has actually improved.
The way Casey has run the teams he has coached he puts an importance not only on the starters but as well as a transition to the second unit. To which the coach has identified Luke Kennard as the player he wants to spearhead and lead the second unit.
In most cases the NBA’s sixth man of the year could be a starter. That is what Dwane Casey is looking for. The fact the he picked Kennard is actually an honor and not a demotion from starter to second wave leader.
In the last six games, Kennard has averaged 13.5 points while hitting 53% on 3-pointers. That is what his new role calls for. Kennard has met the qualifications. There is something else that should be noted.
While Kennard does not start games. He has been on the court at the end of games more often. That speaks volumes to how the Pistons view Luke. As a facilitator and a glue guy who can and is counted on. The fact that Kennard is on the court during critical stretches speaks to his growth as a player. Both offensively and defensively.
Early in the season Kennard was playing lazy, did not seem ready for games. He admitted that coach Casey gotten on him about his effort. That is where the change came from.
Dwane Casey came to Detroit known for getting the most out of his players. When you are an NBA Coach of the Year you tend to know what your doing. Now in tinkering with Luke Kennard, Casey has shown that under his tutelage a player can give more.
Dwane Casey’s record of developing young players is second to none. Just ask second year player Luke Kennard.
Embed from Getty Images Dwane Casey has been the calm the Detroit Pistons have needed as the team is currently going through a rough patch. Showing why he is an NBA coach of the year.
The old saying is everyone is happy when things are going good. Which is why it is interesting that the Pistons players and coaches are happy during a December slump. Players and coaches are not freaking out.
Dwane Casey said he refuses to cuss out a player because it would be counterproductive. Instead Casey has been working one on one with players who have hit an in season slump. That is the mark of a good coach.
While other teams coaches have been seen screaming at players. Casey meets them on the sidelines crouches down in front of them and talks to them followed by a hair ruffle or pat on the shoulder. Part of what has endeared him to his players.
His calming influence has been welcomed from Detroit basketball players since day one of training camp. Despite shooting woes and bad fouls the Pistons are still in good shape to make a bottom seeding in the NBA playoffs.
It is true the Pistons have things they need to clean up. As do many teams. The ace-in-the-hole is indeed Dwane Casey who has successfully maneuvered teams in similar positions the Pistons are in right now.
This is why he was brought to the Motor City. There is little doubt that Casey can not work his magic and get the Pistons back on track.
Sometimes it is coaching and sometimes it is letting players play through slumps. There is no magic potion or formula. It is a player by player need. Casey has a good beat on his team and the players absolutely love the coach.
Fans just need to trust the process. It is better to hit a December slump rather that late February-March slump. It is not about how you start or what happens/happened in the middle. But it is about how you finish. Dwane Casey understands this.
Embed from Getty Images As the Detroit Pistons training camp inches closer. New Pistons head coach Dwane Casey who is known as a player developer has an opportunity to put his finger prints on the 2018-19 Detroit squad.
Let us start with a player who has been a puzzle so far in his playing career. Stanley Johnson, he seems like a prime target to take a monumental step forward this season.
Miss used by previous Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who put Johnson on the perimeter even though he lacks the shooting touch from out there. Expect Casey, to use Johnson’s size and power down low.
I fully expect a man who just won the NBA coach of the year to do similar things with all the Pistons players. Blake Griffin, who is at his best inside the paint has no business shoot from the outside.
Andre Drummond is actually a big man who can shoot from the outside and I believe Casey will allow his to do that more often. The NBA is all about a balanced roster. In other sports coaches can mask weak spots. In the NBA players are all front and center. No one to hide behind.
A better Deeeeeetroit basketball coaching staff is going to make a big difference. There is no maybe about it. The Pistons roster is ready to win now. Are they a championship team? That remains to be seen.
Teams like Boston and Cleveland are not as good headed into this year as they have been in years past. The East is wide open. So why not the Pistons>