Henry Ellenson’s 2017-18 season outlook

ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 12: Henry Ellenson
ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 12: Henry Ellenson /

In our series of season outlooks for the players on the 2017-18 Detroit Pistons roster, we’ll run through expectations for each. Next up is Henry Ellenson.

Henry Ellenson didn’t have a rookie season to remember for the Detroit Pistons. The 18th pick in the 2016 NBA draft played more with the Grand Rapids Drive in the G League than he did with the Pistons in the NBA, and he didn’t look ready for much of his time on the floor.

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Ellenson played 21 games in Grand Rapids, averaging 35.2 minutes per appearance. He averaged 17.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game against G League competition, shooting just 41.6 percent from the floor. With the Pistons, he appeared in 19 games, averaging 7.7 minutes per game. He hit less than 36 percent of his shots from the floor and just 29.4 percent from three-point range.

He benefited from the Pistons expanding their rotation late in the season after they were eliminated from playoff contention, playing four straight games and starting two of them. He averaged 22 minutes per game in that stretch, averaging 7.3 rebounds and an inefficient 9.8 points per game on shooting splits similar to his full season numbers.

Ellenson had a production uptick in the Orlando Summer League earlier this month. In five games, he averaged 30 minutes per game and largely excelled. He scored 17.4 points and added 7.2 rebounds per game and hit 44 percent of his field goal attempts. Unlike in his rookie season, he didn’t appear overmatched and often appeared to be one of the best players on the floor.

Ellenson is a player with expectations on his shoulders this season. While as a rookie, it was understood he wouldn’t play much and would have very little responsibility on the floor, this year will be vital for his future with the Detroit Pistons.

With the exit of Marcus Morris via trade to the Boston Celtics, the Pistons’ front court has been reordered. Jon Leuer remains likely to be the starting four (or the first big man off the bench), but Henry Ellenson can compete with Anthony Tolliver for backup minutes at the four. Ellenson’s defense is a work in progress, but he shows flashes on the offensive end. There may be lineups in which Ellenson and Leuer can play side-by-side with Leuer playing the five.

Next: Eric Moreland's 2018 season outlook

There wasn’t much room for Ellenson to work his way into the rotation last year with a forward glut and roles essentially predetermined, but with another year under his belt and a rotation open to his upward mobility, this could be the year where he makes his leap.