After making an impact on his Oklahoma State teams, John Lucas III has continuing to do that in a resurgence of sorts with the Detroit Pistons. Lucas was last in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, but their system wasn't a good fit for the point guard.
"I was doing more screening than I was coming off ball screens, and I'm a ball-screen player. I was putting screens on (centers) and (power forwards) and that's the way the offense ran. It's been like that since Jerry Sloan was there." Lucas said via the Free Press.
Lucas spent the majority of this last year playing in China, but now he's back! Last week John signed a second 10-day contract in as many days with the Pistons. Lucas came in saying he would do "whatever coach asks me to do." He has certainly done that for his team.
"The Pistons are telling me to be who I am, don't be nothing else," Lucas explained.
Braden Shackelford had some kind things to say about Lucas joining the team in a recent article with the Detroit Free Press, "PistonPowered: Lucas making a difference for Pistons". Braden grew up in Oklahoma, and has an interesting perspective since he covers the Detroit Pistons, and watched Lucas in Stillwater. We reached out to him for his thoughts on what Lucas brings to the Pistons.
When Brandon Jennings went down with a season ending injury, the Pistons were left in a tough spot-- continue to try to make the playoffs (at just two games out of the eighth seed in the east) or pack it in for the season. Head coach Stan Van Gundy knew the best route to go would be to try to make a payoff push, but going in that direction would be difficult with journeyman D.J. Augustin and a rookie second round draft pick in Spencer Dinwiddie backing him up.
That left Van Gundy with three options:
1) stick with what he's got in Augustin and Dinwiddie, which would likely result in missing the playoffs
2) sacrifice future assets for short-term success
3) Find a veteran free agent to back-up Augustin
Van Gundy ultimately decided that sacrificing future assets with a team teetering between bottom of the playoffs in the East and the lottery was not the direction to go, so he rolled the dice on former Oklahoma State Star John Lucas III and the Pistons, and their fan base, couldn't be happier.
It's been a roller coaster of a season for the Pistons. The team started the season 5-27, then waived Josh Smith and rattled off enough wins to get back into playoff contention only to lose their most productive player in Jennings to a season ending injury. Most of the fan base just wants to see the Pistons make the playoffs and that wouldn't be possible without the presence off the bench of a veteran leader like Lucas.
Not only has his professionalism had an impact on the team, but so has his production. His averages of 4.8 points and 4.2 assists may not jump off the page, but when you consider that he's shooting 43% from the field and 55% from three and averaging less than a turnover a game in 13 minutes of play, you can quickly see the impact he's having on the Pistons. Oh yeah, and Lucas still plays that pestering defense we all grew accustomed to in his days at OSU.
With a surprising deadline trade sending D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler to the Thunder in exchange for Reggie Jackson, all signs point toward the Pistons keeping Lucas past his second 10-day contract and for the remainder of the season.
Most well known by Oklahoma State fans for the shot that sent the 2004 squad to the Final Four, Lucas is, as Braden said, trying to get signed through the remainder of the year. Let's take a look at his stat line over the last six games with the Pistons.
|John Lucas III||GP||MIN||REB||AST||TOV||STL||BLK||PTS|
When Lucas joined the Pistons, Coach Stan Van Gundy said Lucas was a fit because he was a "high energy guy" and that's what the team needed coming off the bench. Lucas isn't only known for producing on the court though, he's also known to be a great person off the court, and it's great to see him doing well.
Lucas and the Pistons take on the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Even though Lucas' 10-day contract expires before the game against the Washington Wizards on the 22nd, he must play at least 3 games under the contract. Meaning he'll be available versus the Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, but let's hope the Pistons make him available for much longer. All news is trending towards the former Cowboy staying with Detroit for the rest of the year as they make a playoff push in the Eastern Conference.