Detroit Pistons replay center: Explaining Detroit’s defensive woes

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Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers Domantas Sabonis. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Transition defense

The Detroit Pistons have been turning it over a lot. Some of those turnovers are due to players having to play bigger roles. Drummond, for example, will be turning it over much less when Griffin comes back and he doesn’t have to create as much. Those kinds of turnovers will probably stay a problem until Griffin and Jackson come back.

But a significant percentage of them is just sloppiness. Lots of new faces mean lots of “getting to know each other.” Players need time to get used to their new teammates, when and where they want the ball, new lineups and how to operate within them.

Those kinds of turnovers will get better as chemistry builds but if the lineups keep changing so much, it will still be a problem. In any case, the Pistons have to do a much better job running back on defense, turnover or not.

The Pacers get a block on Drummond that results in a sloppy 3-on-3 fastbreak. The Pistons have time to get back but they don’t.

Simply, not running back on defense is unacceptable, yet it has happened a lot so far. It’s very hard to stop a fastbreak when you’re low on numbers and the other team will almost always get an easy bucket when that happens.

While running back is necessary, transition defense doesn’t end there. Getting in a stance early to stop penetration is paramount and you can see how poor of a job Rose does here. With a head of steam, even mediocre guards like T.J. McConnell can get to the paint if you don’t dig in and stop the ball.

Committing too many players on the offensive glass has been a bad strategy in the NBA for years. Tim Frazier and Markeiff Morris have no job staying this close to the basket when Snell’s three goes up.

When you have a guy like Drummond, you can pretty much let him attack the glass on his own while the rest of the team gets back on defense. That has been the Pistons strategy as long as he’s been in Detroit and the new guys have to get on the same page. Drummond makes you a good offensive rebounding team all by himself and that’s not an exaggeration.

However, the turnovers have been the main culprit in giving up easy buckets. With two initiators gone, other players have had to create more than they can handle and the results haven’t been great. Snell, below, gives it up too easily and Edmond Sumner gets a dunk.

Players like Rose, Brown, Drummond, Frazier and Morris, to some degree, have seen their usage raise and the team has suffered the consequences in the form of turnovers. Rose, in particular, has a staggering usage of 34.8 percent and his turnovers have skyrocketed.

He has never been that careless with the ball and the huge role definitely plays a major part. Rose has been really sloppy so far. He has almost doubled his turnover ratio compared to last year.

Sloppiness has been a major thorn so far. This is an easy pass for Frazier but he sends it right into Ben Simmons. That would have been fine if he got back on defense right away but he doesn’t. You’re not going to get it back most of the time, so getting back to defend becomes a bigger priority.

The Sixers have a numbers advantage and Tobias Harris gets a wide-open three, which he makes. This should be a major teaching point going forward for the coaching staff. Most teams, start getting back on defense as soon as a shot goes up and I don’t see why the Pistons, not named Drummond, should act otherwise.

Morris has no business giving the ball to Maker in this scenario. Even if he was able to catch a basketball there wasn’t much he could’ve done with it anyway.

Maker gets a lucky rebound on this horrible shot but doesn’t protect the ball. Instead, he gets sloppy and loses it resulting in a fastbreak. Rose, again, doesn’t get into a stance and is too occupied with showing Snell where he should go, which is quite obvious.

That has been a trend in the film and I blame it on unfamiliarity. Having trust in your teammates to do their job is a huge part of defense. Having to tell them where to go and where to be, takes away from your own concentration, which is evident in Rose’s case. He cares to point Snell to his man but he doesn’t bother guarding his own.

Snell does the same below. He’s so focused on telling everyone else where to go that he doesn’t see that Morris is already back to guard Pascal Siakam. He had time to run to the opposite side to take away the corner three but leaves Kennard to guard two players instead.

Drummond is matched up with Mo Wagner at the time of this turnover and picks him up in transition. The problem is Morris has already picked him up and no one stops Isaac Bonga.

This is just a communication and familiarity issue. I hope that we’ll see fewer mistakes of this kind as team chemistry builds.

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