Daye struggles for playing time, production

Daye struggles for playing time, production

Published Jan. 15, 2012 7:43 p.m. ET

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Austin Daye is a really nice kid. Unfortunately, being nice does not bring you success in the NBA.

The Detroit Pistons are going to have to make a decision on Daye when the season ends as they have a team option on him at just under $3 million.

It would be hard to give up on a 24-year-old who can play guard at 6-foot-11, but if things keep going the way they're going, that's what will happen.

In 10 games this season, Daye has shot a mind-boggling 20 percent (.204). He is just 10-for-49 from the floor and 0-for-13 from three-point range.

When he gets the ball on the floor, he hesitates before shooting, even if he has a wide-open look. It appears as though his confidence is gone. Even his teammates have pointed it out.

"I was in the shower and Ben Wallace told me today, he told me I had my head up my butt because I'm not shooting shots I usually take," Daye said after the Pistons' 99-91 loss to the Golden State Warriors. "So I think I just need to focus on just playing aggressive and not worrying about who's behind me or coming out of the game, because I know that the better I play, the more time I'll get."

Damien Wilkins missed Sunday night's game because of a family matter, which meant that Daye would get a chance to play. But his line was like his line has been all season: 12 minutes, 3 points on 1-for-5 shooting, 0-for-3 from three, 1-for-2 from the free-throw line, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 turnover.

It's a complete mystery why someone who has always been a very good shooter cannot make a shot right now.

In his rookie season in 2009-10, Daye played in 69 games, averaging 5.1 points a game on 46 percent shooting, 31 percent from three-point range.

In his second season, Daye played in 72 games, averaging 7.5 points a game on 41 percent shooting, 40 percent from three-point range.

When he played for Gonzaga, he shot 48 percent (.475) in 2007-08, 41 percent (.413) from three-point range, and 48 percent (.477) in 2008-09, 43 percent (.429) from three-point range.

Daye knows that whatever he's doing, it's not working. To his credit, he refuses to use getting used to new coach Lawrence Frank's system as an excuse.

"I've knocked shots down in all systems, it doesn't really matter," Daye said. "It's all on me. It really is. I don't have any excuse for the way I've played. There's really no excuse. I haven't been playing to my ability at all. It's frustrating because I worked really hard this summer and I know that I came back better, but it is frustrating."

Daye is also not using his right ankle injury as an excuse, even though he admitted that it still is bothering him. But with the condensed schedule, all players are going to have to deal with nagging injuries this season.

"It's hard to heal up unless you want to take games off," Daye said. "I don't know if I really want to do that because I took one game off when I knew I couldn't go at all but the next couple games I felt like I could run and if I can run and jump a little bit, I should be able to be playing. I'm not a soft player so I know I can fight through pain."

Daye was the one who used the word "soft," so he realizes that's the public perception. I don't actually think that he is. But being aware of and sensitive to the fact that others look at him that way is only going to exacerbate his shooting woes.

Daye is not going to get minutes for his defense, although with his length he certainly is capable of rebounding and blocking some shots.

But with the way the Pistons as a team have been offensively challenged this season, averaging just 85.4 points per game on 43 percent (.425) shooting, there has to be a place for Daye to contribute.

"I never ever really hesitated before," Daye said. "It's not that I hesitate too much now, it's just that I think I'm just thinking while I'm shooting it instead of just let it go, just fire."

That's the only way a shooter gets out of a slump is to keep shooting, knowing that the shots will eventually fall. He has to stick his chest out, give a little fist pump and even demand the ball when he's open. Get some swagger going, in other words.

It's not about being nice at this point, it's about being the player he's capable of being.

"I think every good player there's an expectation for themselves," Daye said. "I think that I have high expectations for myself and I'm just not meeting my expectations for this year and for how I should be playing and it's just hard. But I think for myself I just gotta be able to relax and go out there and play when I get the chance."