The Detroit Pistons have assigned Michael Gbinije and Henry Ellenson to the Grand Rapids Drive, Pistons’ NBA Development League affiliate.
Gbinije, guard, the 49th overall pick by the Pistons at the 2016 NBA Draft has appeared in one game for the Pistons, the season opener in Toronto where he recorded one assist in five minutes of action.
Ellenson, Detroit’s 18th pick, has played in two games, averaging 1.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 2.5 minutes per contest.
Stan Van Gundy, Pistons’ Head Coach, explained that the reason for assigning the two rookies to the D-League affiliate is in order to get them quality playing time.
“It’s for their development and, as I told them, it’s because we’re so happy and so excited about them that we don’t want them taking any step back,” Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy told the Detroit Free Press. “They need to play basketball and continue to be coached and taught in live situations, and they’ll get that in Grand Rapids with Rex Walters and his staff.”
Gbinije can play multiple positions from the one to the three, and while the Pistons plan on developing him into a solid point guard, the 6’7 Syracuse alum would have a tough time cracking through the rotation as the Pistons have a load of depth at the wing spot. There is no question that Gbinije would easily be in the rotation on multiple teams in the NBA but with the Pistons packing a bunch of players better than Gbinije at the guard and forward positions, it becomes an uphill task.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope starts at shooting guard for the Pistons and is capable of playing the small forward position effectively in addition to improving into a solid perimeter defender. Marcus Morris starts at small forward and his backup at the position, Stanley Johnson, will look to competing for the Sixth Man Award this season. Gbinije’s easiest route to the rotation is as a backup shooting guard but Bullock (now injured) and Darrun Hilliard have both had more minutes than him in during preseason.
“Gbinije made his first appearance of the preseason on Saturday, playing 22 minutes in Detroit’s win over Philadelphia. He scored 11 points, on 3-4 shooting from behind the arc. He also grabbed three rebounds and made two steals. He showed poise and confidence in his game, something that Stan Van Gundy loves seeing out of young players. He was not afraid to shoot the ball, which is uncommon for a player who rarely gets in the game. His confidence rewarded him with his solid play. He can handle the ball and is a capable defender. He is not some sky high potential prospect but should develop into a contributor in the NBA.
Gbinije also received minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. He played 15 minutes, scoring four points. He also had two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. It was another solid and productive game for him. He played under control and did what he was asked.
Time will tell if Gbinije will crack the rotation, but the chances are highly stacked against him. While the chances he makes the rotation are slim, his play is encouraging as an option if Stan Van Gundy does decide to give Gbinije a chance.”
While the Pistons head out to the Western Conference for their annual road trip, Gbinije and Ellenson will stay behind to get quality minutes with the Rapids. Gbinije and Ellenson will practice with the Drive this week and play in the team’s opener against Canton Charge on Friday.
Gbinije and Ellenson will rejoin the Pistons when the team returns from its road trip. The Pistons are currently with 11 active players on their road trip with Reggie Jackson undergoing a left knee rehab and Reggie Bullock out with a hip injury. Either Gbinije or Ellenson could be asked to join the Pistons during the road trip in the event that a key player on the 11-man team suffers an injury.
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