By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Pistons fired former coach Maurice Cheeks because team owner Tom Gores shared a common public opinion that the team’s record does not match its talent, so interim coach John Loyer has switched up what the Pistons do on offense and defense to try to get the most out of the group.
So far, the players approve.
“Coach Loyer’s done a great job of consistently getting better and putting in new things,” guard Will Bynum said at the team’s shootaround Tuesday. “I think as the year goes on, we’re going to get better and better.
“Offensively, we made a lot of changes,” Bynum continued. “We were doing a couple things differently, tweaked a couple of offensive sets that we had. Defensively, we’re doing a whole lot more. We’ve got some new things we’ve added in defensively as well. Everything has been pretty good.
A promoted assistant, Loyer has stayed true to the hands-on approach he used before taking over as head coach. As the morning shootaround wound down, Loyer moved around the court in a long-sleeved T-shirt, basketball shorts and tennis shoes, talking with various players and assistant coaches, hanging around the court even when just Andre Drummond and Peyton Siva finished shooting free throws.
While Loyer’s tenure may not last long, it will certainly be a visible one, and his involvement seems to be appreciated.
“He’s just kind of on the ground with it, so it’s a little bit different because Loyer was an assistant, he was out working guys up before practice,” Bynum said. “He’s got the same mentality, he’s doing the same things, so it’s kind of like he’s out there on the ground with us, and it’s just a different feel.”
One aspect Loyer has stressed to the Pistons is offensive movement.
“We don’t have the type of player who you can just dump the ball to and tell them to go to work,” Bynum said. “We don’t have that other than Moose [Greg Monroe] on the block, so everybody has to be moving. There has to be moving plays where all five guys touch the basketball and putting guys in good positions to succeed to do what they do best.”
The movement should give the Pistons more open looks, and since Detroit ranks last in the NBA in 3-point shooting, it will likely serve the Pistons well to zero in on higher-percentage shots.
“It’s just putting ourselves in efficient situations – instead of taking that 3-point shot, stepping in a couple feet and taking the 17-foot mid-range shot,” Bynum said. “I think it’s just taking more efficient shots and using the time that you’re out there on the court to be more efficient.”
The Pistons have already done well on the fast break – second in the NBA with 18.2 fast break points per game, according to teamrankings.com – and look forward to exploiting their athleticism and size even more.
“I think the stuff [Loyer] put in was great,” Drummond said. “A lot more stuff to do with ball movement on the floor and just having us push the break. I think that’s really going to help us out.”
Detroit can also use its size to its advantage on the defensive end, where the Pistons have put in a three-two zone. Drummond said that scheme will simplify what the Pistons have been doing and help guards know when screens are coming. It should also help the Pistons maximize that edge they get because of their size.
“That’s the point of the three-two zone, to have one of our bigger defenders up at the point to discourage them from shooting jump shots or trying to drive to the paint,” Drummond said.
The Pistons will get plenty of time to test out those changes this week, playing four games in a span of five days.