Pistons’ hot stretch is unsustainably built on point guard play

Me at Detroit Free Press:

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.

_WITH SMITH_AFTER SMITH_DIFFERENCE
PlayerMPGUSG%MPGUSG%MPGUSG%
Anthony Tolliver0011.219.3+11.2+19.3
Brandon Jennings28.822.92829.3-0.8+6.4
Joel Anthony6.25.46.610.9-0.4+5.5
D.J. Augustin22.421.120.724-1.7+2.9
Kyle Singler2313.322.515.8-0.5+2.5
Greg Monroe2924.130.123.6+1.1-0.5
Jodie Meeks23.322.725.822.1+2.5-0.6
Caron Butler23.913.317.412.4-6.5-0.9
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope32.418.428.517.1-3.9-1.3
Andre Drummond29.921.228.619.8-1.3-1.4
Jonas Jerebko13.917.722.112.5+8.2-5.2
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