So much has been made about the Pistons’ youth movement and young core, that it’s often overlooked that they have some good veterans around them too.
It’s not just Jerami Grant, Wayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder.
Count Cory Joseph among them.
Joseph, 29, arrived in the trade that sent Delon Wright to the Sacramento Kings at the trade deadline, and in his 11 games with the Pistons, he’s been something of a revelation. In addition to his play on the court, which has been a surprise, with 11.7 points and 6.1 assists, he’s also brought some leadership in helping the young players develop off the court.
“Cory’s been through it. He played in a championship program in San Antonio. That’s one reason we brought him to Toronto. He had a huge impact with his presence with some of the veteran guards we had there,” coach Dwane Casey said. “His style of play, his personality and his leadership, everything rubs off and he’s doing the same thing with Killian (Hayes) and Saben (Lee) and that group.
“It’s so important that he is who he is and what he brings to the table each and every night. Not just the point guards, but the entire group. He’s positive and upbeat and plays with tremendous energy every play. That’s a plus for our organization.”
With so many rookies and young players, having the right mix of veteran leaders is important because it’s where the young group learns about values and the little things off the court that positively influences the type of veterans that each of them will become later in their careers.
It’s part of the core values that general manager Troy Weaver extolls and what Casey preaches. That’s part of why they’ve assembled the roster the way they have — and why they’re getting positive results early on in their rebuilding process.
“It educates the players and they’re doing it from a good place. Some teams have guys who eat their own just out of competition for that position,” Casey said. “That’s not in Cory or Wayne or Rodney (McGruder’s) DNA. They’re leaders by example and they’re giving people and want the young guys to learn.”
Casey said that Joseph remarked Tuesday about how the young players are adjusting and wanting to learn from the vets, and it’s carrying over. That’s one of the traits that the front office sought in the rookies, and they’re benefiting as well.
“Cory told me today he loves the young guys’ approach and willingness to listen. Just the education he gives them each and every day — it may on the bus, in the locker room or in the weight room,” Casey said. “He’s given nuggets that will help them make it through the grind and down the line they’ll look back and say they had Cory Joseph as a rookie and he’s great. That’s what he’s leaving with a lot of players in this league.”
Summer break approaching
The Pistons have grappled with injuries all season and missing leading scorer Jerami Grant for the past couple of games on the western trip was tough, but it allowed the young players to get more experience in tough situations, especially in crunch time against the Clippers on Sunday.
Getting some of those players back in the last stretch of the season is critical, but there’s also a balance of trying to keep the key players ready for the summer, which is where much of the improvement will take place.
“(We’ll take it) day by day and see where guys are. Going into this summer, it’s going to be very important to make sure we’re healthy and not miss time where guys have to go through something to get ready to work out,” Casey said. “We want to make we present ample playing time for different people in different positions and make sure it’s there. We’re still evaluating to see who’s who, but health is No. 1 on the list.”
Pistons vs. Clippers
►Tipoff: 8 Wednesday, Little Caesars Arena
►Outlook: The Pistons (16-38) play their first home game since April 3 after a long western road trip. It’s a rematch with the Clippers, who won the matchup on Sunday in Los Angeles.