Heading into the free agency period, Stan Van Gundy made one thing clear. His Pistons squad needed to get better at shooting the basketball.
Van Gundy floated the idea of adding a shooting coach. He scoured through hours of tape to find out if the players he had on his roster could make up for the gaping need for long distance shooters.
After doing his homework, Van Gundy and the Pistons front office decided to turn losing into shooters in the free agent market.
Stan Van Gundy turned dead payroll into assets.
Hey turned the money Joe Dumars dedicated to Charlie Villanueva into two of the best backup players at their positions. Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin will have a chance to start for the Pistons next season.
He was bold enough to decline the option of 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, who was brought in by Dumars as a pawn to get more fans into the seats.
There was no place on the roster for the attitude and defiance of Rodney Stuckey and his 8 million dollar salary.
Instead, Van Gundy used part of that 10.5 million to start renovating one of the worst perimeter defenses in the NBA.
To fix Josh Smith‘s offensive issues on the wing, the Pistons signed Cartier Martin and Caron Butler. Both of whom are actually familiar making shots from the perimeter.
Butler and Martin shot 39% from downtown last season. Each add their own style of grittiness to the court. Butler will make 4.5 million next season, while Martin makes the league minimum.
While everyone howls at SVG to trade Josh Smith, he has taken into account that the former all-star can still play at a high level. He made 71% of his scoring attempts inside of three feet and shot just 26% from three and below 40% from anywhere beyond the rim.
Josh Smith belongs near the basket.
Defensively, it gives the Pistons a stout perimeter defender at power forward, to guard the stretch forwards of the league. It allows the coaching staff flexibility to keen in on match ups that favor either Greg Monroe or Josh Smith on either end of the floor.
There will be small forwards in place that can drive to the basket from the baseline or wings.
Even more importantly — when Andre Drummond crashes the post and looks to kick it out to an open teammate, there will be shooters galore, with proper spacing.
In the backcourt, Van Gundy addressed every need possible. Detroit suited up a mismatch of guards last year that didn’t compliment each other.
Though KCP has improved and has a nice shooting stroke, he struggled mightily from mid-range and on. Meanwhile 60% of his attempts were in two point range. Caldwell-Pope showed through Summer League play that his offensive strength will be driving to the hoop. Meeks compliments that with a solid shooting stroke.
True shooting percentage breaks down the efficiency of a players shooting touch and ability at the free throw line. The Pistons guards last season struggled with a consistent shooting stroke. Meanwhile, Augustin and Meeks were two of the best in the NBA.
True Shooting Percentage for LY Starting Backcourt Jennings: 49% KCP: 48% FA Backcourt — Augustin 54% Meeks 60%
— Pistons Palace (@PistonsPalaceFS) July 14, 2014
As much as Rodney Stuckey’s attitude and game improved last season, his style of play has never been favored in a diverse offense. While he’s great at driving to the hoop, the rest of his offensive game flounders in comparison.
He might be a great fit for a contending team, but his makeup doesn’t fit the foundation that Stan Van Gundy has built.
Meanwhile, it makes sense to give Kyle Singler an opportunity to fill Stuckey’s shoes. From our friend James Makula:
From Dec 1st – end of yr, Singler shot 40.7% from 3 @ 3.2 attempts/gm. Only 13 other players did that this year (60 gm minimum)
— James Makula (@PistonsAnalysis) July 14, 2014
The Pistons went into the free agency period knowing the need to address a shooting deficit.
All while making the smart basketball decision to add post depth by moving Josh Smith to a position where he can flousish.
All that remains now for the Pistons this off-season is to either sign or trade Greg Monroe.
Chances are Stan Van Gundy already has a plan in place.
Like every strategic move this off-season, Detroit’s basketball czar will map at a procedure that makes the Pistons better now and sustainable in the future.