Losing even Smith’s limited production can only hurt a team unless someone else is using the resources of time and possessions more effectively. So who has filled Smith’s void?
The frontcourt players who are mostly replacing Smith’s minutes don’t come close to using up as many possessions.
The extra shots are being taken mostly by Detroit’s point guards, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the sustainability of the Pistons’ improvement.
Both Augustin and Jennings have posted true shooting percentages (which account for three-pointers and free throws) of 57 since Smith’s release, well above the career norms of 50 for Jennings and 54 for Augustin.
Somebody else needs to step up, because usage and efficiency almost always work as a trade-off. The point guards can’t be expected to keep shooting more often and more efficiently.
A good start would be keeping Monroe and Drummond on the floor more, and they could eat into Joel Anthony’s minutes. Drummond, in particular, doesn’t yet have the skill set to make something productive happen when force-fed more touches. But by giving him more playing time, Van Gundy could allow him to naturally find a few more high-efficiency chances. Unlike Jennings and Augustin, Monroe wouldn’t need a massive jump in efficiency alongside usage. His touches already have a much higher expected yield than Smith’s did. He could just use a few more of them.
Regardless, if the Pistons keep leaning so hard on Jennings and Augustin, those two either will have to keep having stellar nights regularly, or the Pistons soon might look like a 30ish-win team … again.
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