The real reason Detroit Pistons offense is clunky

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Dwane Casey of the Detroit Pistons talks to Blake Griffin (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 25: Head coach Dwane Casey of the Detroit Pistons talks to Blake Griffin (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Pistons had one of the worst offenses in the NBA  preseason. Part of the problem might be an ill-fitting starting lineup. There are several theories on why they go with an odd starting five.

They say defense wins games. If that is true, the Detroit Pistons could face the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals, just as Jalen Rose predicted they might. Detroit was, after all, the No. 1 in scoring defense in the preseason.

But the objective is to score more points than the other team. The scoring department was not too hot for the Pistons. They finished next-to-last (29th) in scoring offense in their four preseason games.

Of course, preseason games do not count in the standings. Pistons coach Dwane Casey even said, do not read too much into his rotations in those games.

However, it is hard to believe Casey started the same five players in all four games on a whim. It is doubtful he would suddenly change things for Wednesday’s opener at Minnesota.

Expect to see Killian Hayes as the point guard, Delon Wright at shooting guard, Mason Plumlee will be the center, Blake Griffin at the power forward position and Jerami Grant is small forward when they tip off against the Timberwolves.

Grant is the only one of them who was among the Pistons’ own top five scorers in the preseason. Griffin has the lone career scoring average of over 10 points a game.

If you are looking at this lineup for its offensive potential, one word comes to mind: Clunky.

Both guards are basically point guards. Wright can shoot a little,but his main job is to help Hayes with the ballhandling. He is mainly a placeholder until Derrick Rose gets in the game.

As a center, Plumlee is known for setting solid screens and, for a big man,  being a good passer. Scoring is not his thing, and he has no outside shot.

Griffin has in the past been a one-man scoring machine but, in the preseason, he looked to  pass (doing it very well) more than assert himself offensively. Grant is a good spot-up shooter with some athletic ability to drive, but he is not one to create his own shot.

Grant has also been a power forward for most of his career. He did play some small forward with the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs, as he could match up with LeBron James. But, for most of his career, he has been at the ‘4’ spot.

Passing was definitely not his thing in the preseason. Grant had 12 turnovers and just two assists. Casey said he did not put him in a good position.  Obviously not.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons fans are heading down a familiar road with Jerami Grant. light

The small forward is usually one of main facilitators off an offense. But with the Pistons, the power forward and center are much better passers.

So, Detroit will roll out two point guards, a small forward who does not have a great handle, a center who does not shoot and a power forward who is a complete wild card.

In other words: Clunky

So why are the Pistons putting out such a ill-fitting starting five? We all talk about Detroit ‘tanking’,  but it is hard to believe they actually will be trying to lose on purpose right from the start, when no one is quite sure quite what they have.

There is an obvious reason, however, and two other theories that actually might make more sense, when you think about it.

Let’s go explore them:

Reason #1 Moneyball (obvious)

Detroit paid Grant and Plumlee a lot of money (Too much?) to leave the Western Conference finalist Denver Nuggets. They have to start, or there would be egg on the faces of Pistons management. Hayes was the No. 7 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Again, egg on face of management if he does not start.

Because Casey does not like to start Derrick Rose due to his injury history, Wright gets the nod. Wright is also the third-highest paid player on the team, only Griffin and Grant make more.

Blake Griffin starts, well, because he is Blake Griffin.

Not counting Rose, the starting five are also the five highest paid players on the team, according to Spotrac. Coincidence?

I guess you can say Detroit is trying to get its money’s worth.

However, there are two other possible reasons for this mish-mash of a lineup.