Fans of the Detroit Pistons were surprised not to see second-year guard Jaden Ivey in the starting lineup in the first preseason game vs. the Suns.
Most of us chalked it up to the injuries to Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris and Isaiah Livers, as well as the fact that this is just preseason, the time when coaches experiment with different things.
Ivey played well off the bench, scoring 15 points and adding four assists and four rebounds. But the game isn’t all offense, and Monty Williams has made it clear that “blow by guys” who don’t defend will have a hard time earning minutes.
So maybe Ivey’s benching was a message to his youngster, or maybe it was just preseason, or maybe Monty Williams actually does plan to bring him off the bench.
Is Jaden Ivey going to come off the bench?
Monty Williams nearly started another civil war on Pistons Twitter yesterday when he said that if Bojan Bogdanovic had been healthy, he would have been in the starting lineup instead of Alec Burks.
That would leave a starting five of Cade Cunningham, Ausar Thompson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren.
Coach Williams has said that it’s Ausar’s spot to lose and I think he means it. If you are going to stress defense, then it makes sense to have your best defender on the floor as much as possible. Thompson does not play like a rookie and does a lot of things to help the Pistons on both ends.
He’s not just a defensive stopper, he can handle the ball, make plays, rebound and run the floor and acts as a connector on both ends.
A lot of fans weren’t happy about this, and some of the more extreme ones were already lamenting the hire of Monty Williams (geez, relax it’s been one preseason game) or calling him a pawn of Troy Weaver and his plot to play two bigs. Take a deep breath.
Whether Ivey starts or not, he’s going to play big minutes and be in there during clutch time, so I do think there are some compelling arguments to bring him off the bench. He could be the primary scoring option as the 6th man, change the pace with his speed and give the second unit a legit scorer who can get his own shot or create.
It’s also possible that Monty Williams wasn’t talking about Ivey going to the bench.
It could be Isaiah Stewart moving to the bench
Coach Williams hedged his first comment immediately after and hinted that he’s going to experiment plenty in the preseason:
He mentioned using Ausar Thompson as a four, which could lead to a starting five that looks like this:
- Cade Cunningham
- Jaden Ivey
- Bojan Bogdanovic
- Ausar Thompson
- Jalen Duren
Sign me up for this, as I’ve always envisioned Beef Stew as a super sub who plays both big spots as needed. Stew could be the first player off the bench to spell Duren at center and then potentially move over to power forward when Marvin Bagley III entered the game.
Williams also talked about “not putting too many young guys on the floor at the same time,” so this could all be a way to space out his young stars and put them in the best possible position to succeed, even if that means coming off the bench.
Either way, I don’t think we can make too much about these comments nor preseason starting lineups. Williams is still getting to know his personnel, trying to figure out what works and may see some things defensively with Ivey in practice that we are not privy to.
But until further notice, this will be the hot topic of the preseason.