By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – In signing Chicago Bulls guard D.J. Augustin and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Caron Butler, the Detroit Pistons got a pair of former first-round picks who both made significant contributions to playoff teams last season.
Augustin enjoyed a career resurgence last season, averaging 14.9 points and five assists in 30.4 minutes per game for the Bulls after averaging just 16.1 minutes and 4.7 points with the Indiana Pacers in the 2012-2013 season. Augustin attributed the improvement to the opportunity he got in Chicago.
“For any guy in the NBA, when you get a chance to play a good amount of minutes every night, you get comfortable, you get confident, you get a rhythm,” Augustin said. “I don’t care how talented you are, if you’re not playing a certain amount of minutes every game, you’re not going to play as well, so just getting that opportunity to play and just feeling comfortable and actually getting in a system that fits, it felt good, but I feel like I have a chance to do that here.”
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said Detroit was surprised to be able to get Augustin and that he was a bargain for them. Van Gundy also said Augustin should be a great fit for the system.
“He’s one of the best high pick-and-roll players in the league,” Van Gundy said. “Obviously we think we’ve got three front line guys who are very good in the pick and rolls themselves – obviously [fellow point guard] Brandon [Jennings] plays well out of high pick-and-rolls. D.J.’s one of the best. I think we can really establish that type of game, playing to his strengths and fitting very well with our other players and the way we want to play.”
Butler, at the age of 34, ranks among the more veteran players in the league. He averaged 10.5 points per game playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Thunder last season. While Van Gundy expects Butler to be a solid influence on the younger players in the locker room, the coach made it clear he wants Butler most for what he can do on the floor.
“I told Caron when we were on the phone the other night, first thing I said to him is, ‘We’re not bringing you here just to teach the young guys and all that. We’re bringing you here to play,’” Van Gundy said. “You get veteran leadership with guys, but it doesn’t work when guys aren’t playing. You’ve got to play to lead, especially when you’re with a new group because they’re looking to follow you – not just what you say, but what you do, and if you’re not on the court, I don’t think it works. I love what he brings. I love what Caron brings leadership-wise, but we wouldn’t have brought him in if I didn’t think he could still get the job done on the floor.”
Butler hung 30 points on Detroit while playing for the Bucks last season, but he said the team can be much better this season.
“I see the potential, and with Coach Van Gundy at the helm of things now and what he’s going to insert on the defensive end and on the offensive end, add a little more consistency, we can shock a lot of people,” Butler said. “We can do something extremely special.”