Can you find good news in an 0-3 start, two losses by double digits and your highest USG player chucking bricks up to the tune of a sub 40 TS%?
Ok, its true, Josh Smith's shooting has been AWFUL so far this year- 38/0/47! and is across the board worse than last year in what was rightfully considered a disaster for smiths offense. However there is good news- it appears that Stan Van Gundy, through three games at least, has gotten Smith to listen to him, which is a big stinking deal. Evidence?
1. Smith's 3 pt attempt rate is at its 2nd lowest in the past 5 years, and almost half of what it was last year.
2. His FTr is the highest its been in the past 5 years, and almost 50% higher than last season.
3. His actual FTs per 36 mins and FTs per possession are at what would be career highs.
4. His assist rate is back to what it as the two seasons prior to joining Det, and more than 33% higher than last year.
Now the Shit Your Pants(if you are a Det fan)/Laugh at a terrible contract (if you aren't) scenario is that Smith is just done, at age 29, as an NBA scorer. This is possible- his efficiency has never been great, and his FT, never above average, has cratered in his past two seasons, and his jump shooting just flat sucks (important for older players who want to work any kind of perimeter game), so that possibility is there. The bad news for Josh Smith is that he still looks like one of the worst shooters in the league, the good news is that he no longer looks like one of the worst decision makers in the league (its still early though!).
The other good piece of news for Detroit fans is that while Smith is taking fewer 3s the team is taking many more. Last year they were bottom 5 in 3pt attempt rate, and this year they are at 16. Instead of Smith being #2 in attempts he is #5 in total attempts and #6 in attempts per min. As a team its ugly- a combined 22% from deep- but as a concept the right players are shooting 3s this year (or at least the right types of players). That 22% wont last and if it reverts even to 33%- the worst team rate in the league last year- at their current rate of attempts they would expect to have scored more than 7 pts more a game so far, and changes their margin of loss from almost -10 to almost -3.
The Pistons results are terrible right now, but the (very early) returns are that they have a far better process in place than they did last year.