The biggest critics of this year’s Detroit Pistons team point to spacing issues. It’s a fair criticism. With the three-headed big the Pistons possess, the team is in dire need of shooters who can spread the floor and leave room to operate inside the arc.
Joe Dumars has attempted to address the issue. Through the draft, the team added the most highly-touted shooter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In free agency, the team has brought back Chauncey Billups and the memories of him knocking down big threes for the team. And the team also added Brandon Jennings through a sign-and-trade.
Perhaps the best shooter of them all is a free agent signing that flew under the radar. Detroit, meet Luigi Datome.
Datome, a 25-year-old forward from Italy, will be a rookie in the NBA next season, fresh off an Italian League MVP award. Datome has drawn comparisons to fellow-Italian Danilo Gallinari, specifically for his ability to shoot the ball.
In Italy last year, Datome had a true-shooting percentage of 61 percent, per draftexpress.com. In the previous year it was 65 percent, and since 2009, his overall field goal percentage has been 43.8 or better.
The Pistons will value this efficiency; however, his three-point shooting abilities are the skill that can earn the rookie minutes. He shot 39.4 percent from three last season. In the two seasons prior to that, he shot 43.3 and 42.7 percent respectively.
Detroit had no one on their team finish above 40 percent from three last season, except for Andre Drummond who went one for two. Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye both eclipsed 40 percent, but both were shipped out of Detroit in a trade mid-season.
Datome can be a 40 percent three-point shooter. There may be some transition to the NBA game, but shooting is one skill that should carry over. Shooters knock down shots. In an offense with Jennings running pick-and-rolls, with the defense focused on the three bigs and Jennings’ dangerous scoring ability, Datome can be the benefactor. He may often find himself with open looks from the corner.
Despite the criticism, Jennings is an adept passer. Both Josh Smith and Greg Monroe are also very skilled passers. If Datome can impress coach Cheeks with his shooting and earn minutes, he will get open looks.
Shooting might be the quickest way for Pistons bench players to earn minutes. And Datome may just be the best of the bunch.