With the Detroit Pistons preseason set to begin on Thursday, we take a look at three storylines that you should be watching closely, one of which just became all the more interesting in light of the Reggie Jackson news.
The first week of the Detroit Pistons training camp is in the books. Although they brought 18 bodies into camp, there’s not much left up in the air in terms of who is going to make the roster. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t intriguing storylines to keep an eye on.
Detroit has six exhibition games to get it going — the first of which is this Thursday, October 6 — before their season opener on October 26 in Toronto. We’ll take a look at three things that you should keep on eye on throughout the preseason.
The third-string (second-string?) point guard battle
The battle for the final roster spot and third-string point guard duties between Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum just became much more important in light of the Reggie Jackson news. Jackson, who had been limited in camp because of knee tendinitis, is apparently dealing with more serious problems.
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On Wednesday, Stan Van Gundy said, worst case scenario, Jackson could be out for 6-8 weeks to begin the season. He’s reportedly still mulling treatment options, but this is a huge blow if he were to miss that large a portion of the season.
For the time being, it appears that Ish Smith will be thrust into the starting point guard role. And now, as it stands, Brown and McCallum are no longer fighting for a roster spot. They are fighting for a spot in the rotation. That doesn’t aspire a lot of confidence for a Pistons team with high aspirations.
Detroit will surely explore all available options, but it just became much more imperative to monitor the preseason play of Brown and McCallum. Brown has the height and familiarity advantage, but McCallum has the edge in NBA experience and upside.
Still, neither is on a guaranteed contract, and Detroit is apparently exploring the point guard market as we speak, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Backup center watch
I’m also interested in closely watching the performances of backup centers Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic. It stands to reason that only one of them is going to see consistent minutes behind Andre Drummond, and a strong preseason could mean an early spot in the rotation.
Van Gundy recently told Pistons.com said that Baynes is still in pole position to earn the spot “for now”. However, all reports out of camp are that the 7’3” Marjanovic has been impressive.
Via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com after an early-camp practice:
"“He [Marjanovic] is unstoppable down low,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think anybody has an answer to that. Once he gets established in the half-court, there’s not a good way to play him. He’s so big and he’s so skilled that it’s hard.”"
Baynes is more experienced both on the court and in the system, and is the more reliable defender, but don’t be surprised if the 28-year-old Serbian is the one the win the lion’s share of the backup center minutes.
Who’s playing where
Even after the Jackson injury, this group is still the deepest and most versatile that Van Gundy has had in Detroit. Outside of point guard, the Pistons are deep at every position, and many guys can play multiple spots on the floor.
This is great news, but it also means that Van Gundy has a more complicated rotation to piece together. He’s got to figure out who to play, where to play them, how many minutes to play them, and which groups form the most effective units together.
For these reasons, you should keep an eye on who’s playing, and where, in each of the six preseason games.