Buddy Boeheim goes way back with Detroit Pistons, but 3-point shot is how he’ll stick around

Detroit Free Press

The Syracuse connections run deep in the Detroit Pistons’ front office.

Troy Weaver was an assistant under longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim from 2000-04, and was the primary recruiter of Carmelo Anthony. Pistons assistant general manager and Motor City Cruise president Rob Murphy was also a Syracuse assistant from 2004-11.

So Buddy Boeheim, Jim’s youngest son, already had some familiarity with the Pistons before he agreed to a two-way deal with the franchise immediately after the draft two weeks ago.

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“Troy, way back for sure,” Boeheim said at the Pistons’ practice facility on Sunday. “I remember when Melo was here, I was 4 or 5, probably 3. He was there way back when I was a little kid running around at Manley Field House. Just remember having him around. I was always close with the players, the coaches, so I obviously remember Troy. I remember Rob a little better, I was a little older. Very close with him and his family.”

But Boeheim also made it clear that he isn’t with the Pistons simply because of his front office connections. The 6-foot-6 wing was 36.2% from the 3-point  line  during his four seasons at Syracuse. He was a high-volume shooter, attempting 854 during his college career and averaged at least eight per game in his last three seasons, during which he started all 89 games he appeared in.

He has an opportunity to make an impact for a Pistons team that has a big need for shooting, and he’s hopeful that he can stand out during summer league, which starts on Thursday in Las Vegas.

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“I think that definitely could help, but I also I think I put myself in a good position,” he said. “Obviously had a great workout here, I thought I shot the ball really well. Definitely I think a place where I want to come in and feel like I eventually could help down the road, whatever they need me to do. Just a guy that can make shots and space the floor for guys like Cade (Cunningham) and Jaden (Ivey), all of the guys that can create. Definitely was interested, this was one of my top spots. Obviously just having that relationship helps.”

Boeheim will be joined by his older brother Jimmy, who is 6-8 and played his first three college seasons at Cornell before joining his dad and younger brother at Syracuse last season. The Pistons announced Jimmy as a member of their summer league roster last week.

“Both of them are high-IQ,” Dwane Casey said on Sunday. “Jimmy’s got a high IQ, Buddy’s an excellent shooter. He’s probably one of the best pure shooters that came through the draft workouts. Looking for his shooting, and both of them’s IQ.”

Buddy also has a relationship with Isaiah Stewart, a fellow  state of New York native who were teammates in AAU. The Pistons are bringing a loaded roster to summer league, including Stewart, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes and Saben Lee. Casey often jokes that the Pistons could be a college team, and they will boast perhaps the most talented roster in Vegas.

The experience in the roster has helped Boeheim get acclimated. He knows in addition to his shooting, he’ll have to competently defend.

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“(Stewart has) looked out and took me in and it’s like a family, really,” Boeheim said. “Everyone looks out for each other. The older guys are helping us out with different schemes, defensive stuff, everything like that. Just the biggest things — spacing the floor, making shots and also knowing where to be on the floor helps space the floor. Defensively knowing how to guard screens, how to guard everything, really, switching and guarding bigs 1-through-5. Just trying to be a help as much as possible and just improve every day.”

Detroit shot only 32.6% from 3 last season, 29th in the NBA. It’s a longshot for any two-way player to become a key in the rotation, but the Pistons don’t need Boeheim to do much else other than what he was signed to do — shoot the ball.

Boeheim understands the assignment.

“Just getting shots,” Boeheim said. “On the scouting report is going to be ‘don’t want him to shoot,’ so to be able to still get shots for myself is a big thing to do as a shooter, create and also just make the right play. Always make the right read. If you’re hot and you draw two guys off a screen, make the right pass, right read always and compete on defense. That’s the biggest thing. If you can get stops and make shots, you’re going to stay on the floor. That’s the biggest thing. Just taking it day by day. I have a long ways to go, but just enjoying the process so far.”

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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