On eve of trade deadline, Wayne Ellington shows value — again — for Detroit Pistons

Detroit Free Press

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After Wayne Ellington signed with the Detroit Pistons in November, he listed several reasons why he was excited to join the franchise.

It was an opportunity for him to step into a leadership role on a team filled with numerous young players in need of guidance.

He also believed that, despite being traded by the Pistons two seasons earlier, it was a great fit for his game.

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This season has been successful on both counts for Ellington. Dwane Casey has praised his daily approach to the game and the positive example he’s set for the Pistons’ developing players — and particularly their shooters. And Ellington himself has put together one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 10.7 points while shooting a career-high 43.1% from 3. 

It’s not a surprise for the 33-year-old Ellington, who said on Wednesday that this season is a product of a great offseason and that he expected this for himself.

“I knew the type of work I was putting in over the summer,” Ellington said after Wednesday’s 116-111 loss at Indiana. “I knew that when I got my crack at it, once I got my opportunity, I was gonna take advantage of it. That’s part of this league. When you get your opportunity, you gotta be prepared. I work, obviously. It’s showing on the floor. I had a great summer, I had a lot of time off and I tried to take full advantage of it. It’s paying off for me.”

Ellington signed for the veteran’s minimum last offseason.

Wednesday’s performance encapsulated everything that has made him so valuable on the court for the Pistons this season. He scored 16 points, knocked down four of his five 3-point attempts and helped the Pistons’ offense flow by spacing the floor.

He acknowledged that he thought about the trade deadline, and the possibility that he’ll be moved.

“I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t,” Ellington said. “Back of my mind, I think it’s in a lot of guys’ minds. This is my 12th year in this league. I’ve seen a lot of guys get traded before. It’s part of the game, and it’s part of the business, part of the NBA. Guys get traded. Guys go to different teams. Once you can cope with that and accept it, you’re able to just go out and play the game, let what happens, happen. Control what you can control.”

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Ellington, who returned on Wednesday after missing four consecutive games with a right adductor strain, has shown a knack for delivering strong performances after missing extended time. It results from his day-to-day preparation. Casey has said that Ellington’s daily habits to stay in shape and maintain his ability to shoot are something young players can learn from. 

“Just his leadership, his approach to the game, his professionalism, is a great example for all of our young guys to see each and every day,” Casey said. “He doesn’t have an off day. He’s the same each and every day with his approach and that’s what you gotta have when you’re building a team.”

Saddiq Bey and Frank Jackson have both benefited from watching Ellington this season. He had a historic streak in January, becoming the seventh player in NBA history to hit at least four 3-pointers in seven consecutive games. From his footwork on the court to hard work behind-the-scenes, Ellington has left an impression on this Pistons team. 

“Just how he sets it up,” Bey said Wednesday about what he’s learned from Ellington this season. “It doesn’t matter who’s guarding him, it could be somebody more athletic or less or bigger, and he finds ways to come off screens and get his shot and uses ball screens to get back open. It’s been good to learn from him every day.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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