The Detroit Pistons have nearly ten games to chop up and analyze at this point, and certain themes are already evident. Turnovers are a big problem, and Monty Williams had better help this team get a handle on it fast. However, there are also some positives to point out, with the team’s 3-point shooting being chief among them.
The Detroit Pistons struggled mightily a year ago
Young players tend to struggle to find their shot once they reach the bright lights of the National Basketball Association. I recently pondered whether Ausar Thompson could put himself on the same positive trajectory that the Bulls’ Lonzo Ball did prior to having his career derailed by injury. For the time being, Thompson’s energy, defense and rebounding are enough, but his shooting efficiency is something we’ll all be keeping an eye on.
Last season, or B.A. (Before Ausar), the Pistons were the 23rd ranked team in the NBA when it came to 3-point shooting percentage. Veterans Rodney McGruder (42.3%), Alec Burks (41.4%) and Bojan Bogdanovic (41.1%) led the way, but frankly, those sharpshooters aren’t on the same timeline as the team’s nucleus. The team’s younger players – those most likely to be here for the long haul – really struggled.
Isaiah Livers shot a decent 36.5 percent from downtown, while Jaden Ivey managed to shoot 34.3 percent from deep in his first season. Isaiah Stewart, who we’re going to be talking about again very soon, hit only 32.7 percent of his long balls. Killian Hayes shot an embarrassing 28 percent from three, and even Cade Cunningham, who lost most of his season to injury, put up a paltry 27.9 percent from behind the arc on a not entirely disregardable sample size of 61 attempts.
But that was last season. Things have changed – fast.
Several core players have improved their shooting
Despite being the NBA’s youngest team, the Detroit Pistons are knocking down threes at the league’s 4th-highest clip, hitting 39.1 percent as a team through their first eight games. This is something to be very excited about, especially as it is not the result of veteran production.
It’s early, so some of the numbers I’m about to share are accordingly inflated, but Burks, who has hit 53.8 percent of his shots from deep is the only veteran contributing to the Pistons excellence in this category. Bojan Bogdanovic and Monte Morris, both of whom were expected to be relied upon to help with their 3-point shooting have been injured, and Joe Harris, acquired in large part because of his own prowess beyond the arch has so far been ineffective.
Rookie Marcus Sasser has been one of the team’s best shooters, which isn’t necessarily a major surprise but the sheer volume of his contribution is something of a revelation. He’s knocked down 51.9 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Most importantly, the development of likely franchise stalwarts Stewart, Ivey, and Hayes is a significant reason for the team’s improvement shooting it from deep. Ivey has improved his 3-point shooting to 40.9 percent, Hayes is up to a plenty serviceable 35.7 percent, while Beef Stew is soaring along with a 46.4 percent success rate from deep.
The Detroit Pistons need to shoot more 3-pointers
Despite shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range as a team, the Detroit Pistons are just 21st in made 3-pointers per game, so their success comes with the caveat that they haven’t shot that many. Detroit is just 28th in 3-point attempts, so you could argue that they need to be shooting more of them.
Not only are they making them, but taking more attempts will force teams to close out a little harder and open up some space for an offense that needs it.
Sustained success will be key to Pistons taking the proverbial next step
The Pistons may not be able to sustain this level of excellence, but their 3-point shooting should be celebrated, nevertheless. The improvement made by several players thought to be part of the core going forward is reason to be excited.