Stan Van Gundy shoulders blame for Detroit Pistons’ struggles

The Detroit Pistons are a far cry from the up-and-coming 44-win team from a season ago. With virtually the same roster, what gives? Stan Van Gundy says it’s on him. More importantly, the solution to fixing these struggles are too.

It seems like just yesterday when the Pistons were playing one of the most competitive four game sweeps ever against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a series that left Pistons’ fans and everyone inside the organization feeling like the team was on the cusp of something special.

Unfortunately, things change fast and the Pistons have changed for the worse. Despite only adding talent to the roster this season, the team has gotten worse.

What gives? Apparently coaching, according to Van Gundy.

Van Gundy via Detroit Free Press:

“When a team is having the problems we’ve had this many times, it’s on me,” a somber Van Gundy said. “That’s all I’m thinking about right now, it’s on me. I’m not going to get in here and blister the players or anything else. Our team’s had too many of these. It’s on me, I’m responsible. I got to figure out what needs to be done. Quite honestly, I’m embarrassed. Not by my players, by me, my performance. I’m not getting it done.”

He repeated for emphasis: “I’m NOT getting it done.”

I hardly ever find myself disagreeing with Van Gundy. And I agree with him here. I also appreciate him taking a look in the mirror and acknowledging he needs to do better.

That’s a good first step towards improvement.

But it’s what Van Gundy does next that will be every bit as important.

Let me backtrack and say this isn’t all on Van Gundy. This Pistons’ team has a lot of personality, for better or for worse.

I think there is too much focus internally on individual accolades and not enough focus on the team.

Players need to know their role and perform that role to the best of their ability–regardless of how much they are getting the ball. (Though this isn’t something that should shock any of us given the youth of the core players on the team).

That said, Van Gundy may have had a few missteps himself, though it’s hard to point to anything conclusive–which is part of the reason Van Gundy is having trouble himself wrapping his arms around this team.

I think–to a smaller scale–Van Gundy’s tough lough on Stanley Johnson this offseason has hurt the team. Say what you want about Johnson, but the player we saw at the end of last season and in Summer League this offseason is totally different than the one before us today.

The vocal and confident Johnson who’s play elevated as the stakes got higher has turned into a timid and passive player.

Part of this is on Johnson for being a knucklehead, but Van Gundy’s tough lough has really gotten in Johnson’s head.

A bigger issue is the chemistry from a season ago is totally gone. This is due to the infusion of talent which has mucked up the roles on the team.

Van Gundy said himself that he was struggling with calling plays to get everyone enough touches.

If your having to call plays to get everyone their shots you’re already failing.

I also disagreed with Van Gundy moving Harris to the bench, but admit that this has little to do with why the Pistons are where they are.

It seems to me like the Pistons’ need a total reset. I think Van Gundy needs to start his five best players (and Harris is one of them, if not the best at this point in time) and be very clear what his expectations for each player is.

For the players that don’t like it and respond negatively on the court, it’s probably time to start looking for a new home for them.

I think that assertiveness alone will go a long way into getting the team back on track–after all, it’s not the level of talent that’s on the team that’s the issue, but their cohesiveness.

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