Detroit Pistons midseason grades: Power forwards edition

In our continuing midseason grades series, it’s time to turn our eye to the Detroit Pistons power forwards and assign grades.

As we turn the bend at the middle of the NBA season, we’re off to grade the next position group for the Detroit Pistons. Next up are the power forwards, Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer. Henry Ellenson is also listed as a power forward, but due to a lack of substantial playing time we’re simply not going to include him.

The power forward (or four) spot has been a position in flux for much of the past month or so. Tobias Harris started for the first seven weeks of the season and was replaced by Jon Leuer for much of the subsequent few weeks until Leuer was lost to a knee injury. Harris flourished as the top scoring option off the bench, but has been moved back into the starting lineup for the past five games.

Leuer and Harris have both been among the Pistons best three players since the start of the season, with Leuer providing rebounding and stability to a young team sorely lacking in both categories, and Harris proving to be one of the few players on the team that can create his own offense.

With no further ado, let’s grade Harris and Leuer on their performances thus far.

Tobias Harris

Stat line: 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, shooting splits .481/.350/.897, true shooting 57.3 percent. 

Grade: B-

Tobias Harris has been among the most productive Pistons so far this season and leads the team in scoring. He’s been the tertiary scoring option when in the starting lineup behind Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, but when coming off the bench he’s a pivotal cog in a unit bereft of dependable scoring.

While it may seem puzzling to take your third or fourth-best player and put him on the bench to start games, it seems to fit the Pistons’ roster configuration quite well. His rebounding percentage jumps to 10.5 percent when he and Andre Drummond are split up, and his scoring ability has a potent edge to it when he plays separate from Drummond.

This doesn’t say anything negative about either player, but it does suggest that Harris finds his ideal role when his number is bumped up the pecking order in the front court.

While it remains to be seen whether he will start or come off the bench when Jon Leuer returns, rest assured that Tobias Harris will get no shortage of minutes. He’s second on the team with 33 minutes per game, right behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s 33.6 minutes per game.

Jon Leuer

Stat line: 10.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, shooting splits .509/.319/.885, true shooting 58.8 percent

Grade: B

Simply put, Jon Leuer has been much better than he was expected to be when the Pistons signed him this summer. After Kevin Love picked the Pistons apart in their first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Stan Van Gundy targeted a mobile big who can shoot from outside as a free agent priority.

Sure enough, Leuer has filled the bill. Strangely enough, the only thing he hasn’t done well for the Pistons is shoot the three, one of the prime reasons he was signed. Aside from that, he’s an efficient scorer in the paint and around the basket.
He’s also been the second-most efficient rebounder behind Andre Drummond, he’s a capable defender and he has been the biggest source of stability in what has been a turbulent season for the Detroit Pistons.

Leuer has the best on/off splits on the team by a wide margin as the Pistons have a -7.2 net rating with him off the floor but a +3 net rating with him on. He’s been missed in his absence due to a knee bruise.

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