Pistons add one of league’s top shooting coaches to coaching staff

Detroit Bad Boys

There is a trifecta of joy and misery awaiting Detroit Pistons fans this offseason. First, a decision made on the future of head coach Monty Williams. Second, what the team does in the NBA Draft. Third, what the team decides to do in free agency.

For a brief moment, it looked like news broke that the first domino was revealed in a roundabout way as news broke that a new assistant coach was joining Monty Williams’ staff.

Fred Vinson, who spent the previous 14 years in New Orleans, was “joining Monty Williams’ Detroit Pistons staff as an assistant coach,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The wording, and the fact that you wouldn’t seem to add to a coach’s staff you intended to fire, seemed to indicate Williams was getting a Year 2 in Detroit.

I’m not so sure. But first, let’s talk a bit about Vinson.

New president Trajan Langdon saw Vinson up close in New Orleans, and obviously liked what he saw. Vinsons’ role in New Orleans was seemingly exactly what he will be asked to do in Detroit — work with the young players to improve their shooting.

Shooting, as it stands, happens to be Detroit’s biggest weakness and the biggest source of improvement for the team’s young core of Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren, etc.

This isn’t like Monty Williams’ getting an associate head coach to sit in the first row of the coaching line. This is a second-row position and a specialist who would be a valuable and welcome addition to any staff.

Recently, Vinson worked with Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball, among other young Pelicans to improve their shooting form and consistency. Jones, an Ausar-like defender with little offense when he entered the league, went from 33% his first two years in the league to nearly 42% this past season.

Ingram was a low-volume perimeter shooter his first three seasons (~2 shots per game) and a 32% 3-point shooter to a player who attempted nearly five per game as a member of the Pelicans and hitting 36% of the shots, and alternating between great years (39%) and terrible years (32%).

This isn’t a silver bullet. Vinson has been in New Orleans for a while, and because they had so many young, developing players in New Orleans after the Anthony Davis years, it took time to build up their shooting profiles. From 2020 to last year, the Pelicans ranked 26th, 27th, 15th, and 4th.

Two years ago, he talked to NOLA.com about his quest for the perfect shot and his work with Ingram and Jones. In March, CBS Sports, talked about his recent work turning Jones into a more-than-reliable 3-point shooter.

The Pistons have been desperate for a quality shooting coach for years. The Pistons need to turn Ivey into a shooter for him to have success in Detroit, specifically or anywhere else, generally.

So all Pistons fans should be happy. And wait for the official news on Monty Williams to drop one way or the other.

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