Lay off the Detroit Pistons’ offense

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons rank 29th in the league in 3-point percentage (31.4). They’re last in free-throw percentage (67.0 percent). And even coach Maurice Cheeks has said Brandon Jennings has yet to learn how to really run an offense.

But all that misses the point.

Detroit’s offensive rating is better than league average.

It’s not pretty, but the Pistons simply bull their way to the basket — they lead the NBA in points in the paint per game — and that’s enough for an effective offense.

they’re the NBA’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team.

Andre Drummond is the NBA’s top offensive rebounding starter. Greg Monroe is very good. Josh Harrellson has helped Detroit maintain its offensive-rebounding prowess when those two big starters rest.

The Pistons also gain offensive efficiency by forcing turnovers at the league’s third-highest rate and then running off them. Although Jennings doesn’t excel in the halfcourt, he does a great job of pushing the ball at any opportunity and a good job of playing point guard once the team is in transition. Detroit also leads the NBA in points off turnovers per game.

But don’t let those facts get in the way of a story line that was created before the season even began.

When the Pistons signed Smith — a move that created their identify-defining jumbo frontcourt — many worried he would ruin Monroe and Drummond, two of the NBA’s top blossoming interior players. Smith is not a reliable outside shooter, and it seemed opposing defenses could just pack the paint against the trio.

And they have, daring Smith to shoot from the perimeter. Smith has certainly complied, shooting 3-pointers far more often than ever.

But when not jacking up 3s, Smith has flashed impressive interior passing skills, and that has helped Monroe and Drummond. In fact, Monroe and Drummond have higher true shooting percentages when sharing the court with each and Smith than they do in other lineups.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Jennings Greg Monroe Josh Smith

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