Evaluating Dwane Casey’s job with the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons Dwane Casey. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Dwane Casey. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

 The Detroit Pistons are almost at the halfway point of their regular season. How would you say Dwane Casey has done in his first year as head coach?

The Detroit Pistons are nearing the mid-way point of the season. It’s only fair to start assessing what this team and coaching staff has been able to do to this point in the season.

Dwane Casey had strange year to say the least in 2018. He led the Toronto Raptors to a 59-win season which was a franchise record.

He and his team fell victim to LeBron James in the postseason once again and he was fired for it. How many times has someone been named the Coach of the Year in the league and fired in the same season?

I don’t know. Who cares.

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He ended up being hired by the Detroit Pistons, who were in need of a coaching change after under-performing for the past couple of seasons.

A couple of things about Casey stood out as he became the next man in charge. He had a very recent track record of success and showed on multiple occasions that he could develop young talent.

How could you not like the guy with what he’s been able to do?

His coaching tenure with the Detroit Pistons has been a roller coaster. The team started 13-7 in their first 20 games.

They’re just 4-13 in their last 17 games. A tough schedule combined with multiple injuries has led to their struggles.

Let’s be clear, this roster isn’t very good either.

However, I’m not a Casey apologist. There are some things you can point to for criticism towards the Pistons’ head coach.

They were losing to a lot of good teams in December which made it a little more bearable. Lately, they’ve had losses to Atlanta, Orlando, and Utah. Two of those were at home.

All three of those teams aren’t above the .500 mark.

You could say they haven’t been as focused as they were early on in the season. They were taking care of business against teams with losing records then.

Let’s look at Detroit’s three main players: Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond.

I truly don’t believe he’s got the most out of this group of guys yet this season.

Look at Reggie Jackson for instance. He had career-high’s in points (18.8) and assists per game (6.2) under Stan Van Gundy. It’s no coincidence that his usage rate was much higher during that season than it is now.

That’s mostly because of how Casey has used Griffin in this offense. He handles the ball a lot more than anyone else and everything runs through him.

It’s been something that he continues to emphasize as well on that end of the floor.

Three-point shooting has been another point of emphasis. Casey has been preaching it since he was hired by the Pistons.

They’re averaging about five more three-point attempts per game compared to last season. However, the Pistons are currently 28th in the league in three-point percentage.

Detroit is also just 29th in the league in field goal percentage and points per game. They’re not getting into their spots and attacking. They aren’t making wide open shots.

Something isn’t working and we’re really not seeing any change on that end of the floor. They’ve been forcing the issue for a large majority of this season and haven’t been efficient.

Casey doesn’t seem poised to change his offensive game plan either. Here’s what he said in Chris McCosky’s article from the Detroit Free Press:

"“Expectations from our fans is great,” he said. “I love it. We want to be No. 1 today – yesterday. But that doesn’t happen in this league. Where we are right now and how we are trying to get through it, takes patience. And patience is very thin in the NBA."


I’m sorry but at this point, I think it’s fair to say that this team is underachieving. The Pistons are ninth in the eastern conference and are a game out behind the likes of the Brooklyn Nets.

This team isn’t very good but not making the playoffs in the eastern conference is a complete let down if Detroit continues to trend in this direction.

There’s still more than 50 percent of the season left to go if you’re a half-glass full kind of person.

They should be getting Ish Smith back in the near future. That should help this team get closer to what they were in late November.

It’s no coincidence that this team took a nose dive when he went down with an injury. His numbers haven’t been fantastic, but he’s much more serviceable than Jose Calderon who’s been getting a ton of minutes in Smith’s absence.

A couple changes to their concepts offensively would go a long way in the second half of the season as well.

I believe the Detroit Pistons are going through Griffin too much. His teammates force the ball to him at times when shots aren’t falling. It makes the whole thing way too predictable.

Griffin getting the ball at such a high volume also has caused Jackson to regress. Running the pick and roll with Jackson and Drummond used to be this team’s bread and butter.

Opposing team’s would collapse around it and then Jackson would create kick out opportunities for others on the court around him.

I’d like to see Jackson get more involved in the second half of the season and take some pressure off of Griffin.

I’d also like to see this team take less of an emphasis out on the perimeter. Yes, I do understand that this is a three-point shooting league. The shots aren’t falling from out there for this team at a high enough rate though.

Placing more of an emphasis on being aggressive and attacking the rim could also be a nice change of pace at times.

It’s a mystery as to whether or not this supporting cast can step up and be better in that same time. That’s out of Casey’s control as well.

This team is handcuffed by it’s current financial situation so it’s hard to see much of a shake-up before the trade deadline coming up.

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Overall, Dwane Casey took on a fairly large task when becoming the head coach of the Detroit Pistons. However, they need him to change some of their bad habits to get back into the playoff mix in the second half of the season.