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Pistons on track to start Marcus Morris over Stanley Johnson

Pistons Morris Basketball

New Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris answers questions during a news conference, Friday, July 10, 2015 in Auburn Hills, Mich. Morris was introduced Friday by the Detroit Pistons, who acquired the 25-year-old forward from Phoenix in what was basically a salary dump by the Suns. The deal split Morris up from his twin brother Markieff after the two had signed extensions with Phoenix before last season. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT


The Pistons have basically been locked into three starters:

  • Point guard Reggie Jackson
  • Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Center Andre Drummond

Small forward Marcus Morris and power forward Ersan Ilyasova were penciled in, but No. 8 pick Stanley Johnson had a chance to push either forward – more likely Morris – to the bench.

It appears Detroit will stick with Jackson/Caldwell-Pope/Morris/Ilyasova/Drummond.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“I just think that’s our best lineup right now,” Van Gundy said. “It gives a little bit more size, a little more experience. That’s where my comfort level is right now, but we’ll see how it goes early in the year, or even these (last) two preseason games.”

I doubt anything beyond injury would change Van Gundy’s mind before the regular season, but it’s only a matter of time until Johnson starts.

The Pistons traded for Morris as a placeholder in the starting lineup. Johnson is the long-term bet, and a strong preseason had him pushing to start sooner than most expected.

Morris, a four-year pro, is just more ready to contribute than the 19-year-old Johnson. As Johnson gains experience, his talent should overcome the gap between him and Morris.

Morris’ versatility could keep him in the starting lineup at that point, tough. Capable of playing either forward position (and Johnson might be too), Morris could outlast Ilyasova, whose contract is barely guaranteed beyond this season.

But, sooner or later, someone will have to make room for Johnson.