The Big Answer?: Austin Daye

DF then: Is he really mentally stronger?

At media day, Austin Daye didn’t look any bigger or stronger than he did last season, but I’ll take the Pistons’ word that he gained 10 pounds of muscle. My bigger question is whether Daye has grown mentally.

To be honest, I don’t think he has the edge necessary to compete in high-level situations. Maybe he’ll develop it, and he’ll have time. The Pistons won’t have many crucial moments anytime soon.

Still, I’d like to see at least some progress in that regard this season.

DF now: Yes, but…

There’s still more work to do.

Daye showed a lot more resiliency when opponents got physical with him this year. I was impressed by his ability to make shots late in close games, too.

But his body language wasn’t always great, and he showed up late to the Philadelphia practice. He’s not as mature as he needs to become, but there’s still plenty of time to get there.

Daye made steps this year, and I’m pleased with that. Still, I might have the same question about him heading into next year.

PH then: What will he learn from T-Mac?

Austin Daye is not strong enough, athletic enough or good enough for us to expect him to ever have Tracy McGrady-like production. But he, like McGrady, is a really tall wing player, has a nice jumper and can put the ball on the floor pretty well for a guy his height.

If I could choose any player for Daye to watch offensively, it would be T-Mac, simply to learn how McGrady effectively uses his body on drives and takes advantage of his height to get pretty clean looks even on contested shots.

PH now: Not much

It’s not that McGrady wasn’t a good teammate, he really seemed to be. It’s just that with McGrady at point guard so much this season, Daye didn’t play behind T-Mac at small forward as much as I thought he would at first.

Daye showed flashes of potential. He’s the best pure shooter on the team, he can put the ball on the floor and he’s a bothersome defender because of his length, even if he gets pushed around a lot by small forwards and power forwards alike.

I don’t really have a good feel for what his best future position is or what his ceiling is, but I like his temperament, like his shot and like his dog.

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