Stan Van Gundy’s job as Detroit Pistons’ head coach and president of basketball operations is safe, reports the Detroit Free Press. This is not particularly surprising news, but it affirms ownership’s commitment to Van Gundy even as his plans have gone sour.
With a core built around center Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson, Detroit expected to be in the Eastern Conference mix this year, after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2009 last year. However, Drummond has struggled to have much impact on the offensive end.
Drummond is in just the 16th percentile when it comes to post scoring according to NBA.com, next to names like Alex Len and Zaza Pachulia. He also ranks in 63rd percentile as the finisher in Detroit’s pick and roll. That’s better, but still below what you may expect from a player heralded as foundational.
As for Jackson, you don’t have to dive too deep into advanced stats to find problems. His scoring, assists and shooting percentage are all down from last season with a 14.9 PER that comes in below league average. By Real Plus-Minus, Jackson is the 78th-best point guard in the league, below the likes of Tyler Ennis and Tim Frazier.
The Pistons have committed a combined $207 million to those two players, which they are on the hook for until the end of the 2020-21 season. That doesn’t mean Van Gundy should be fired — his resume as a head coach is close to unimpeachable — but it is eyebrow-raising that Detroit may not even consider hiring someone above Van Gundy in the front office.
We’ve already seen it in Los Angeles, where Doc Rivers’ lack of skill as a general manager has undermined his work as head coach of the Clippers. The Pistons should try to avoid the same thing happening with Van Gundy.