Dwane Casey’s first season as Pistons coach delivered them to the playoffs after a two-season absence. The Pistons have 11 of the 15 players who finished the season either under contract for next season or holding team options to retain them.
With the No. 15 and 45 picks in the June 20 draft and the mid-level and biannual exceptions available to supplement the roster, there will be several new additions on board when they gather in September to open training camp.
But as Casey said after the Pistons were eliminated by Milwaukee in the first round, “We’re going to have to grow from within. We have a lot of talent with our young guys, but they have some areas they can get much better.”
Blake Griffin emphatically returned to All-Star status, Andre Drummond likely would have joined him there had the Pistons not slumped during injury-riddled months of December and January, and Reggie Jackson bounced back from two injury-plagued seasons. They again figure to be central to the 2019-20 Pistons.
Then comes the group of young players that played major roles during the playoff stretch drive: rookie Bruce Brown and former lottery picks Luke Kennard and Thon Maker, the latter acquired in February from Milwaukee. The Pistons also will have two other 2018-19 rookies who did most of their work behind the scenes, in practices and the G League in Khyri Thomas and Svi Mykhailiuk.
In our 2018-19 Season in Review series, we’ll take a look at the key players returning for the Pistons in Dwane Casey’s second season.
PLAYER: Langston Galloway
PROFILE: 6-foot-2 guard/27 years old/5 NBA seasons
2018-19 STATS: 8.4 points on .355 3-point shooting in 22 minutes a game
STATUS: Galloway has one year remaining on a 3-year contract signed with the Pistons as a free agent in 2017
DID YOU KNOW?: Galloway, named for poet Langston Hughes, led St. Joseph’s in scoring as a senior and was No. 2 in scoring in each of his three other seasons on campus. A native of Louisiana, family ties led him to sign with the Philadelphia-based Hawks. He started 132 of 133 career games at St. Joseph’s.
A LOOK BACK: After going undrafted in 2014 despite his four years of achievement in the competitive Atlantic 10, Galloway fought his way onto the Knicks roster after a stint in the D League and wound up starting a career-high 41 games as a rookie for a 17-65 team. After two years with the Knicks, the team rescinded his contract offer in order to sign Brandon Jennings as a free agent. Galloway signed a one-year deal with New Orleans and was traded midway through the season in the deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento to the Pelicans. The Pistons signed him to a three-year deal in 2017 with the intention of Galloway splitting time at point guard – where he’d primarily played in his first three seasons – and shooting guard, but quickly abandoned lineups with Galloway at the point. He fell out of the rotation in Stan Van Gundy’s final season, but won more consistent minutes under Dwane Casey, who often played Galloway at small forward defensively in three-guard lineups. Galloway’s 1,745 minutes were the second most of his career, falling short of the 2,033 he played in his second season with the Knicks when he played in all 82 games, starting seven. Galloway’s .647 3-point attempt rate – meaning nearly 65 percent of his shots were 3-pointers – in 2018-19 was a career high.
A LOOK AHEAD: With Galloway entering the last season of his contract and the Pistons grooming several young wing players behind him – Bruce Brown, Khyri Thomas and Svi Mykhailiuk were all rookies last season and Luke Kennard, already entrenched, a second-year player – it’s possible that they’ll look to shop Galloway this summer. Teams looking for a plug-and-play veteran on a short-term deal with a sterling reputation can always find a spot for a player like Galloway. But Galloway won Casey’s trust with his toughness, motor, commitment to defense and full acceptance of an offensive system that demands players take open 3-point shots. The player on the roster most similar to Galloway, perhaps, is Thomas, who has a little more size and greater defensive potential. If the Pistons were to find a trade partner for Galloway, Thomas is the player most likely to benefit. Galloway has proven durable and reliable. At 27, if he can take even marginal steps forward as a facilitator to further diversify his game, he’ll be tough to overtake for the young players behind him if he’s back with the Pistons next season. Though Galloway is a fearless shooter, improving his consistency is an off-season goal. He shot exactly at the NBA average of .355 from the 3-point line this season and is a .359 career shooter, going through prolonged hot and cold streaks.
MONEY QUOTE: “He has a toughness – physical toughness – about him and a stick-with-it attitude defensively. I’m going to err on the side of toughness and hard play. And that’s what he gives us. It’s even better when his shot’s falling.” – Dwane Casey in late February after sticking with Galloway through a prolonged shooting slump