Detroit Pistons: Is this Henry Ellenson’s last shot?

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images /

Detroit Pistons’ forward Henry Ellenson is slated to fight for major minutes this season. However, he might be on his last run with this team.

The Detroit Pistons took a chance on Henry Ellenson two years ago in the draft with the 18th overall pick. Through two seasons, he’s played a total of 57 games and only 475 minutes. He was supposed to be this team’s stretch-4 of the future. His slash line of .362/.216/.784 leaves much to be desired. The majority of third-year players are playing consistently or are at least out of NBA Summer League. Ellenson is not.

Through four games in Summer League, he’s not showing much progress. He’s shooting a miserable 25.8 percent from the floor. This also includes shooting only 4-for-31 from 3-point range, which translates to 12.9 percent. With Anthony Tolliver gone and Blake Griffin entrenched as the starter, the team will be looking for Ellenson to step up and fill that empty role. Based on the results we’ve seen, he might not be successful.

The team exercised his 2018 option. However, they have yet to pick up his option for 2019. The team still has until October to make that decision, but he hasn’t given Detroit a reason to pick it up. He’s been a net negative on both ends of the floor in both seasons. His shooting was supposed to come along, but it has yet to do so thus far.

He’s flashed the potential to become the player the team hoped it had drafted, but he’s lacked the consistency to earn regular playing time. Griffin is the starter and will earn the lion’s share of the power forward minutes. Tolliver averaged 22.2 minutes per game last season, which means a lot of playing time is up for grabs. If he can have more games like this one against the Memphis Grizzlies, then Ellenson will easily get those minutes. He shot 6-for-10 in that game, but most importantly, he went 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

With the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey radically changed the team’s offensive identity. Serge Ibaka was the team’s rim-protecting big, but he also stretched the floor. He shot a near career-high in 3-point attempts with 297. Casey’s offense naturally generated open looks for his shooters. If Ellenson can sustain even close to that level of shooting, there will be plenty of looks to be had.

However, if he can’t, it’s very possible the team allows him to play out this season without picking up his option for next year. The team has Jon Leuer in place in front of Ellenson. Leuer is a career 33.5 percent shooter from distance. While he’s not a knockdown marksman, he does pose a threat that requires the defense to honor him. Ellenson has yet to earn that respect from opposing defenses.

The team has yet to name a new president of basketball operations or general manager. However, whoever they choose has zero allegiance toward Ellenson. The regime that drafted him is now gone and out the door. Ellenson effectively gets this season to prove his worth. It’s very likely the team picks up his option for next year, but it’s far from a guarantee.

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First round picks get chance after chance to prove their worth. Henry Ellenson has had two years, going on three, to prove his. Hopefully, the new coach will help change things up and make it finally come together for Ellenson. If it doesn’t, it’s very possible this could be his last season in the Motor City.