Detroit Pistons: Possible training camp battles await

Training camp for the Detroit Pistons is still a month away. Even though the roster is set, the depth chart has yet to be finalized. Here are some possible training camp battles that await the Pistons.

 

The earliest an NBA training camp can open this season is Sep. 22, according to Basketball Reference. No word has been given on when the Detroit Pistons will set up shop.

Until then, fans are essentially in limbo. Which means it’s the perfect time to analyze potential training camp battles that lie ahead.

Who will start at shooting guard?

The debate as to whether Reggie Bullock or Luke Kennard should start alongside of Reggie Jackson is sure to last until Dwane Casey reveals his lineup prior to the opener against Brooklyn.

Until then, we can only speculate. But the starting two-spot is arguably the most-intriguing positional battle entering camp.

Point guard, power forward, and center are set. Small forward remains in question, yet it doesn’t offer the same flair as the depth at shooting guard.

After all, both Bullock and Kennard shot the ball at a torrid pace last season. Bullock finished with the second-best 3-point percentage in the NBA at 44.5 percent. Kennard nailed 41.5 percent of his triples as a rookie.

Although they’re relatively the same height and weight, Bullock has more “build” to his body than Kennard. That’s not surprising, given that Bullock is five years older than his teammate. But an edge in size does make a difference. Especially on defensive end.

Wildcat or Wolverine?

Staying on the perimeter, Detroit’s depth chart for small forward is unclear. Technically, any one of the following players could see time at the three: Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, Glenn Robinson III and Bruce Brown.

Let’s assume that Bullock won’t play his natural position of small forward. That leaves us with Johnson, Robinson, and Brown. Since we’re doing training camp battles, I’m going to eliminate Brown in this category. A second-round draft pick isn’t likely to play significant minutes.

So it’s down to the Arizona Wildcat and the Michigan Wolverine. Johnson, a player that Casey has “always admired”, could be considered the favorite by default. Simply because he started 50 games last season. But in reality, that means nothing.

Robinson offers a much more reliable offensive game. You don’t have to look up and down a box score to notice that. As I mentioned in a previous piece, he can create scoring opportunities for himself with, or without, the ball.

In 2016-17, the last time he was truly healthy, Robinson averaged 1.024 points per possession (PPP), a higher tally than 76 percent of the NBA that year.

Per Synergy, 31.1 percent of his field-goal attempts came in spot-up situations. But unlike most spot-up shooters (who are relatively stationary), Robinson set himself up for a majority of those looks. He possesses the versatile scoring and agility that Johnson currently lacks.

More at the four

With the news that Jon Leuer should return by start of the season, his presence will make the battle for backup power forward all the more interesting.

Henry Ellenson is entering his third year with the Detroit Pistons. While he wasn’t given much of a chance under Stan Van Gundy, that could change with Dwane Casey now in town.

Ellenson was inconsistent at best in last month’s Summer League. His defense remained the same: porous like a sponge. As for his offense, there were flashes of control in transition. But these were marred by low-percentage shots that repeatedly refused to fall.

Depending on how Casey structures his depth chart, Glenn Robinson III could challenge both Leuer and Ellenson for minutes at power forward. But I’ll keep him out of the conversation for now.

Two years ago, Leuer began the 2016-17 season with a bang. In his first 38 games, he averaged 10.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game on 50.9 percent shooting.

For the final 37 games he appeared in, Leuer’s averages dropped to 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game on 45.0 percent shooting. His 3-point shooting decreased from 31.9 percent to 26.0 percent as well.

Just eight games into last season, Leuer was lost for the year thanks to ankle injury. Earlier this month, he underwent right knee surgery to repair his medial meniscus.

Related Story: Predicting the Pistons' most effective lineup

Who do you think will win their respective training camp battle? Are there are any others that you’ll be following come September?

Let us know in the comment section below.

 

 

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