Austin Daye struggled in a major way for the Detroit Pistons in his third NBA season. But the former Gonzaga forward, rumored to be possibly on his way out by the end of the season, is still figuring into the Pistons’ plans.
His stock went up this summer when Daye led the Pistons in scoring, at 15.8 points per game and was impressive during the NBA summer league action.
Daye’s collapse during the lockout shortened 2011-12 season was somewhat surprising considering his decent play the first two years in a Pistons uniform, plus the way coach Lawrence Frank had built him up prior to the season tip off.
Former Pistons coach, John Kuester, now an assistant with the Lakers, praised Daye for coming up with key shots.
“That young man will come up with big plays. He’s going to get stronger and stronger but with the length he has, he comes up with rebounds and I expect him to get certain rebounds but the ball gets tipped out of his hands and he’ll learn from that,” said Kuester, who observed that Daye fought through various struggles during the season and he chose, in certain game situations, to stick with him.
In his first two seasons, Daye averaged 6.2 points and 32 rebounds per game. His 42 percent shooting percentage in the past suggested the Pistons could look at him for 2011-12 as one of their top point producers.
“Coach is putting me in a lot more position to be aggressive to use my offensive skills,” Daye said. “He actually sees things that other people haven’t really seen yet. He puts me in a lot of screens and I’ll be able to make more plays. I’ll be able to see the floor a little better.”
“He’ll have me come in on down screens which I wasn’t doing a whole lot of before. I was more of a standstill 3-point shooter and making plays off the closeout. He’s putting me in situations where I have the ball in my hands. It shows he has more confidence in me.”
But that confidence was quickly lost early in the season as Daye struggled in his shooting.
For the season, he shot 32 percent from the floor in averaging only 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds.
Late in the season, Daye was happy with his defense whenever he was given the chance to prove himself.
“ When you hear positive things from the bench, it really gives me a lot of confidence. Just being in the right spots defensively really helped me out, “ he said.
Daye scored 18 points to lead the Pistons in their first preseason game. He declined to say after the game that he was ready to have performances like that on a consistent day every night. But he’s confident this could be a breakout year.
“I just want to be more creative,” he said. “I just want to play my game. I’m looking forward to what’s next. We’ll see what happens.”
What happened was not pretty. But, especially thanks to a strong summer season, the Pistons apparently haven’t give up yet on Daye.
At least not yet.