The hype of the newly acquired Detroit Pistons’ star Blake Griffin has come and gone. But one things remains the same: the Pistons keep losing. It is time for the Pistons to fire Stan Van Gundy.
Stan Van Gundy has been the Coach and President of Basketball Operations (lets just call it what it is, a GM) for the Detroit Pistons for nearly four seasons. Pistons’ fans, what has been memorable about those four seasons?
The Pistons have not gotten any better, they have continued down the same road of mediocrity that they were on before he was hired. In fact, they are a sub .500 team under Van Gundy (141-164).
Van Gundy has not, and will not, be a good head coach or GM because of his inexplicable free agency decisions, his outdated “system”, the idea that Reggie Jackson is the answer, and his atrocious drafting habits.
Free Agency Blunders Continue to hurt Pistons.
After playing an average of 9.5 minutes per game on the San Antonio Spurs in 2015-16, Van Gundy decided to offer Marjanovic an incredible three-year, 21-million dollar contract to come to Detroit.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was even stunned in the deal saying to Marjanovic, “I had to work to get him to understand that $21 million was different than $3 million (that the Spurs offered him). I said, ‘Get your ass out of here. Go. You’ve got to do it’.”
What did Marjanovic do in a Pistons uniform? He averaged nine minutes per game and scored six points before the Pistons shipped his terrible contract to the Clippers in the Blake Griffin deal.
Meanwhile, the Pistons went out and signed Langston Galloway to another ridiculous deal. Galloway too signed a three-year, 21-million dollar deal to join the Pistons. However, Galloway is having potentially the worse season in his career in 2017-18. He is shooting under 38 percent from the field and just less than 35 percent from deep. That is not what you want from your 3-and-D sixth man.
In the summer of 2016, the Pistons also signed power forward Jon Leuer to a four-year, 42.5-million dollar contract. This was for a player who had a history of injuries, and had a decent season the year before averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
How has that gone? Well, Leuer averaged 10 points last season, but was terrible from behind the arc shooting only 29.3 percent. On top of that, he has missed all of this season with an ankle injury. Another great signing by my man SVG.
All of these signings have come under the management of Van Gundy and have led to the Pistons being seventh in payroll in the NBA. Yet, their production hasn’t been anywhere near as high missing the playoffs in two of the three seasons under SVG.
SVG’s “system” is outdated and continues to fail.
Some fans have this lucrative idea that Van Gundy has “his system” and that he just needs to implement the players that will best fit his system in order for it to succeed. This has justified why he is still the head coach and those aforementioned deals.
Well, he is now almost at the end of his fourth season as head coach/”GM” and his system doesn’t seem to be doing its job.
The Pistons are currently 20th in the NBA in offensive efficiency and team floor % (how well a team shoots from the field). Back in Orlando in 2008-2009 (the year they went to the NBA Finals), the Magic were second in team points from 3-pointers averaging 29 ppg from deep. In today’s NBA, that would be 23rd in the NBA.
The league is moving away from using the center position like the Pistons currently use Andre Drummond. Drummond is still a liability from the free throw line even with the improvements he has made. The problem is that Drummond is slow, and doesn’t play defense very well: two things that the league is moving away from. Speed is the essence of the game with the seven seconds or less mentality that runs through the league. Drummond is just being left in the dust.
What makes it even worse is that an article from Bleacher Report pointed out that 3 of the top 10 least efficient shooters in the NBA hail from the Pistons roster. Blake Griffin comes in at #8, Drummond at #7, and Stanley Johnson at #6. This does not bode well for SVG’s system.
Reggie Jackson is not the answer people expect him to be.
Potentially the worst thing SVG has done is extending Reggie Jackson to a max contract. His five-year, 80 million dollar contract has been nothing short of a nightmare for the Pistons. Jackson has been out since late December with an ankle sprain. He hurt this same ankle in 2014 and in the 2016-2017 season as well.
With the little time Jackson has seen over the court, he has played decently. The Pistons point guard is averaging about 16.5 points and six assists per game.
Fans cry that once Reggie comes back everything will change, and Van Gundy seems to believe the same saying, “To me, the third piece is Reggie. That’s pretty good. That’s a pretty good three. We’ve got it in place. We just don’t have it on the court right now.”
This idea is just flat out delusional. Do you honestly think that Jackson, Griffin, and Drummond will keep up with the likes of Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green? The “Big 3” is no longer a desired team in the NBA. Superteams are the only way that teams can win it all in the league we watch today, and this team is still far from that.
These things prove the Van Gundy’s system is out of date and WILL NOT WORK in today’s NBA.
The NBA Draft continues to kill the Pistons.
Where the Pistons have hurt the most BY FAR is through who SVG has drafted in his career thus far. The star player the Pistons have had throughout Van Gundy’s tenure has been Drummond. Drummond was just 21 years old when Van Gundy took over as head coach. He was a respectable young talent that should have more young talent put around him through the draft. Problem is that SVG has done a terrible job of doing that through the draft.
In Van Gundy’s first draft in 2015, the Pistons draft Stanley Johnson as the #8 overall selection. While Johnson is certainly improving as a young small forward, he is nothing compared to some of the guys that went after. Most notably shooting guard Devin Booker was drafted by the Suns five picks later. Other notables were Terry Rozier, Larry Nance Jr., and Kelly Oubre.
A year later, the Pistons picked 18th in the 2016 NBA Draft. While great value certainly isn’t expected at this point, the Pistons still missed out on some potential key role players after drafting PF/C Henry Ellenson. Ellenson has only played in 43 games in a season and a half, and averages 2.9 ppg. At this point, Ellenson is considered a bust from this draft. Some guys that went later on the draft include Caris Lavert, Skal Labissiere, and ROY Malcolm Brogdon.
The 2017 NBA Draft
Of course the story continues this season with the selection of Luke Kennard with the 12th pick in 2017 Draft. Two of the biggest rookie standouts this season went after Kennard with Kyle Kuzma going to the Lakers at 27, and Donovan Mitchell to the Jazz just one pick after Kennard at 13.
Now I do think Kennard has a ton of potential as stated in my previous post “Luke Kennard could be the next Klay Thompson“. However for the time being, Mitchell and Kuzma are off to great starts to their NBA career and are potentially going to be superstars in this league.
The history of bad drafting itself nearly condemns SVG after these three seasons. Missing out on great players and potential superstars as Drummond continues aging is definitely not ideal for the Pistons future. While Drummond is still only 24 years old, it would be really nice if he had another young star around him for his upcoming prime years.
Time to Say Sayonara to Stan Van Gundy.
Enough is enough people. Van Gundy is leading a sinking ship. There is almost no way the Pistons will make the playoffs this season as they have the East’s hardest remaining schedule according to NBCsports.com.
Van Gundy was supposed to be the solution that led the Pistons back into the playoffs. However, he has failed to do that in almost three out of the four seasons as their head coach and GM. It is time to realize that this man isn’t who we all thought he would be.
In order for the Pistons to reestablish success in their organization, they need to move on from SVG.