With the memories of snow still fresh in mind and spring still easing its way in, it’s not too early to start thinking the summer.
The summer means different things to different people, but for the Pistons, it means the end of the season, which concludes on May 16, and a quick respite to prepare for what will be an important period. The players will begin individual workouts, and each will have an improvement plan that will tie into a bigger plan for how he will fit on the team.
There’s still plenty more of the roster structure that needs to be figured out, including the draft and free agency, but for the players returning next season, there is a plan.
“A lot of things guys will work on (will vary) from their body to their nutrition — a little bit of everything: ideal weight, ball-handling, shooting, approach to practice, approach to games, the whole nine yards,” coach Dwane Casey said Monday.
“We’ve put together a formula that we want to make sure we sit down with guys at the end of the year, after these 11 games are over with, sit down and talk to about expectations for the summer, where they should be, what we want them to look at.”
Casey gives each player a “role card” early in the season, which helps each of them focus on particular aspects of his game and understand what his specific role will be. Now that the season is winding down and Casey and general manager Troy Weaver have had a chance to assess what the strengths and weaknesses are for each player — and what the team needs — they can piece together a plan to move forward and how they’ll proceed in the draft and free agency.
Some players will take long-awaited vacations or go back home before turning their attention to a workout customized and individualized workout regimen.
“Troy will talk to them. I will talk to them. The weight and conditioning coaches will talk to them. But there is a list of priorities that we’re going into summer with, goals we’re going into summer with, and expect our guys to come out at the end of the summer with,” Casey said. “So, it’s a big summer for a lot of players and so the expectation will be high, not only these last 11 games, but throughout the summer.
The Pistons have a dedicated group of development coaches and staff to devote to helping players, whether they end up staying in the Detroit area to work out in the summer, or in other areas, closer to their homes or other parts of the country — or even internationally, as it was with Sekou Doumbouya, to help his onboarding process after he was drafted.
Time to tinker
Before they get to the offseason, there are some things that Casey would like to see and implement in the final stretch of the season. That includes some lineup permutations and some additional minutes for some players who could have a role next season.
With the playoffs almost out of reach mathematically, there’s more opportunity to tinker with some subtle nuances and get more minutes with unconventional lineups. That might include some smaller groupings, and some looks at younger players for extended minutes at the end of games.
“The three-guard lineup, I think, will happen at some point. We’ve already been playing our young guys, different combinations, mostly out of necessity as much as we’ve had guys out,” Casey said. “I’d like to play a little more zone to see what that looks like. We haven’t gotten a chance to do that. There are a few more things we’d like to look at, mainly the three-guard lineup, just to see what that looks like, but again, that’s not something I wake up in the morning ready to worry about.
“I just want to make sure we get Sekou some more looks, Tyler Cook some more looks, get Dennis (Smith Jr.) back and get some time on the court to evaluate him.”