Opinion: I want to see Detroit Pistons forward Henry Ellenson succeed

Detroit Pistons forward Henry Ellenson was drafted in 2016 with the 18th overall pick. Since being drafted, he’s struggled and hasn’t found his role yet.

Henry Ellenson seemed to fall into the lap of the Detroit Pistons after many thought he would be a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft. He played in just his freshman season at Marquette university before making the jump to the next level.

Ellenson hasn’t really been given the green light since coming to the NBA.

He spent a portion of his rookie season with the Pistons’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive. He averaged 17 points a game and shot 41 percent from the field.

Ellenson also was active on the boards. He nearly averaged nine rebounds a game. At 32 percent, his three-point shooting was below average.

Ellenson appeared in just 21 games with the Detroit Pistons during the 2016-2017 season. He averaged just three points a game.

The very next season started with some promise. Ellenson played well in the 2017 summer league and even into the preseason. He scored 13 points in a winning effort for the Pistons in their home opener.

Unfortunately for Ellenson, former Piston Anthony Tolliver started playing at the highest level of his career and became the spark that the team needed off the bench. He even began starting in games.

That resulted in last season becoming a wash for Ellenson. He averaged just four points a game in his second year with Detroit.

He played in another summer league with the Detroit Pistons in 2018. It was very much a roller coaster for Ellenson in July.

He wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well throughout the tournament. Ellenson was at least contributing in other ways. He nearly recorded a triple double in one summer league contest.

After what was a disappointing summer league for the most part, Ellenson kept working. He played for the USA team in the 2019 world cup qualifier.

I would say that most players going into their third year in the league wouldn’t be too pleased about still having to participate in the summer league.

Considering where Ellenson was valued in his draft class, it has to be aggravating that he hasn’t made his way into a rotation at the NBA level.

You can’t question his work ethic, however. Summer league action and world cup qualifier matches is Ellenson trying to get better with in-game experience.

Keith Langlois believes that having Dwane Casey as his head coach will benefit Ellenson:

“Casey’s history in Toronto of rolling with young players and living with their growing pains should be the most encouraging bit of news Ellenson has gotten in his brief NBA career. Casey used Pascal Siakam for 35 starts as a rookie after Toronto drafted him 27th in 2016 and stuck with rookie O.G. Anunoby as his starting small forward last season.”

There’s no way around it. Henry Ellenson has the skill set to succeed in this league. He’s 6-11 and can bring the ball up the floor like a point guard.

Ellenson can rebound, finish around the basket, and can create his own shot when needed. He’s shown glimpses of all of these things whether it’s been in the summer league, the G League, or even in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons.

Many people tend to forget that Ellenson is just 21 years old still. Sometimes there are guys that come into the NBA and shine right away.

There are other situations where it takes guys time to develop into a player that can contribute at a high level on an NBA team. Ellenson happens to be one of those guys.

I want to see Henry Ellenson succeed. I expect we will get a good look at him early on. Blake Griffin will need a guy to be his back-up and that is a wide open position as of now.

Jon Leuer is the other likely candidate. He missed almost all of last season due to an ankle injury. He had a setback during the off-season as well.

The time is now for Henry Ellenson with the Detroit Pistons.