Austin Daye’s Career Night


There are good days for writers, and there are great days. At times, you want to write something, and you don’t find a topic to write about, and then the next day the topic comes and finds you. The latter happened to me. Yesterday, I really wanted to write about Austin Daye. I had looked at the way he scored against the Bucks and I found myself thinking, “Man, this kid is a scorer, he is due for some great performances!” Unfortunately, he did not have a great performance against Milwaukee. He scored six points, two of them with the shot clock running out. I wrote Dan and Patrick in order to inform them that I would need one more game to find more evidence.

Well, last night Daye received nearly 40 minutes of playing time and gave the Pistons 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting, 6-of-7 free throws and four rebounds. He fouled out, yet he finally showed all of the potential which made him such an intriguing prospect in the first place. In my opinion, he has one of the sweetest jump shots in the game. He might not become Kevin Durant, but I still expect that maybe, and that’s a big MAYBE, he could score 20-plus points per game. Yes, I think he is this kind of offensive threat. I tried to find some samples of how John Kuester, or whoever happens to coach him next year, can maximize is abilities and potential.

Let Him Shoot

I have picked three plays that I think are typical of how Daye scores most efficiently. One is from the Milwaukee game and the other two are from last night. What I really love about the plays is that they are quick plays and not very complicated, yet he scores without putting that much effort into it simply relying on his jumper and a nice cut.

First Play

The Pistons were already down by seven and had not scored. They were pretty much desperate for a good play and they decided to run a rather easy play for Daye. It is simple so I will not talk about it in much detail. In this example Rodney Stuckey dribbles the ball at the top of the key. Daye and Stuckey have a good relationship since Daye gets a lot of assists from him. Going into the future I could see this working. Chris Wilcox sets a simple down-screen for and he uses it to get a little bit of separation from former Piston Carlos Delfino.

Daye does not need a lot of space, because he his 6-foot-11 and usually much taller than his opponent, I like to call this the Dirk-effect. Delfino gives him just a little bit of space and Daye calmly knocks down the jumper. Great execution.

Second Play

The second play is a variation of the first play. Please excuse the bad quality of the first two pictures, my League Pass did not allow better quality for some reason. Stuckey, again, holds the ball and Wilcox sets another down-screen for Daye.

This time the defender wants to do the smart thing and cheat. It should be Michael Beasley, who for some reason seems to take a shortcut to get into better position to contest the shot. Daye is a smart offensive player and instead of going straight like against Milwaukee, he takes a step back thus creating a lot of space. He takes one dribble and calmly knocks down the jumper.

Third Play

This is the last play. Jump-shooters get lazy occasionally and like to settle (e.g. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant). I would like Daye to have a healthy diet of lay-ups as well. His first step is not quick enough at this stage of his career, and I highly doubt it will ever be.

Stuckey has the ball on top again. Greg Monroe and Wilcox post-up in the high-post. Stuckey decides to give the ball to Wilcox. If he had given it to Monroe I believe Ben Gordon would have finished the play. I like the set-up of this play especially. Gordon and Daye stand in the corner. They are not an immediate threat out there, but just by being there, the help defender, in this case Wesley Johnson, cannot play as much help defense without leaving a deadly shooter wide open.

Stuckey runs down and sets a back-screen for Daye on Anthony Tolliver. Daye acts as if he was going straight to the middle, then goes baseline for the backdoor cut. Tolliver, caught off-guard, gets screened by the much smaller Stuckey and Daye has a lay-up.

Those were three ways Daye can be transformed into a prolific scorer. He is very good at reading screens and knocking down jumpers. He knows his game at this point in his career and Detroit can build on that. What I was particularly impressed about was Daye’s ability to pass the basketball. I made a compilation of all of his field goals and assisted field goals last night and you will see how smart his passes can be.

He passes up good looks in order to give his teammates great looks. Stuckey’s ability to set picks as a guard with his wide frame is really underestimated by fans. He can still help the Pistons going forward, he just needs to work on his decision making.

I think Daye’s progress makes life a bit more difficult for Joe Dumars. Dumars would like to keep Tayshaun Prince around, Daye cannot develop into a good Small Forward with Prince around. I don’t see Daye as a starter, but when Jerebko returns, playing time will be scarce. I don’t know if Prince intends to re-sign with the Pistons, but if he does, Daye is trouble. Going into the future, we cannot rely on Prince, so why not start with the future now?