Detroit — Sometimes, it’s hard enough as a young player to get on a team and to learn the system during a season, with all the things going on.
It’s even more difficult for Pistons forward Tyler Cook, who is on a 10-day contract and is trying to make his way toward a longer tryout this season. The Pistons signed him to a second 10-day contract this week, and Cook is making an impression in his short time so far.
Cook isn’t just looking to make an impact on the stat sheet; he’s also looking to be an asset so that the Pistons can consider signing him for the rest of the season — and maybe more. Cook is in his second NBA season and has bounced around in the G League before getting four games with the Brooklyn Nets and now seven games with the Pistons so far this season.
“It’s tough. Three weeks ago, I was in Orlando in the G League bubble and being sent off to Brooklyn and then here to Detroit in such a short time span is definitely a challenge, but I’ve been trying to focus on being myself and making the best impact I can in whatever opportunity I get,” Cook said. “That’s kept me focused on keeping the main thing the main thing and just going out and playing ball every single night.”
It’s working out for Cook, 23, who is averaging 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in his last four games and as he’s getting more comfortable, he’s also adding more minutes, including 16 minutes against the Wizards on Saturday and 13 versus the Raptors.
Every little bit helps but simply getting a chance with the Pistons is a big boost for Cook’s career. He’s making a favorable impression already, which is the best that a player on a 10-day contract can hope to do.
“You look for the effort level — that’s the most important thing. Communication and how quickly they pick up things,” coach Dwane Casey said. “A lot of 10-day guys I’ve had over the years come in and it takes them 10 days to pick up what you’re doing. The quicker you can come in and study the film, study practice, study the schemes and terminology and pick it up, the more successful you’re going to be on the court.”
The Pistons are looking at all the young players they can during their rebuild, and Cook could be one that intrigues them because of his size and versatility. At 6-8, Cook can play either forward position, and he can play small-ball center if needed.
Cook been versatile for the Pistons and has learned the system quickly, which has led to the Pistons getting more playing time for him in a short span. That’s helping to get some more reps, which can only pay off in the long run, whether it’s with the Pistons or another team.
“He’s an interesting guy. I don’t know what we can do with him contractually, but I’d love to keep him around as much as we can. He’s one of those guys you want to keep in your program because he gives you everything,” Casey said. “He can play (forward or center), he’s smart and he picks things up quickly and he’s physical and athletic. He’s still working on his shooting, but everything else, he brings it to the table — and some.”
Cook’s transition to the Pistons has been made somewhat easier by having played with Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee last season in Denver and also by being in the Oklahoma City G League system, where he had interacted with Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, when he was an assistant GM with the Thunder.
For players on the fringe who are trying to make it in the NBA, that G League experience can prove vital to their development.
“It’s super important. When you look at my assignment in the G League last year versus the seven games in the G League bubble, it was pretty drastic in terms of numbers, production and overall feel for the game,” Cook said. “Having that opportunity to go out there and improve my game and work on things has been huge for me, in seeing things I’m capable of, but also it’s a huge confidence boost when I come up with the club as well. I’m thankful for that opportunity and thankful that I’m here.”
PISTONS VS. WIZARDS
Tipoff: 7 Thursday, Little Caesars Arena
Outlook: The Wizards (17-29) have won two of their last three games, including a 106-92 triumph on Saturday. The Pistons are on the second night of a back-to-back after playing the Blazers on Wednesday.