The Pistons are floating along under the radar and despite the waiving of Josh Smith and the uncertainty about their new franchise point guard Reggie Jackson (not to mention the situation of Brandon Jennings), there's some good young talent in place in Detroit. First-round pick Stanley Johnson excited Detroit fans in Summer League and looks to be an immediate contributor.

So much so, in fact, that Stan Van Gundy recently said on the Lowe Post podcast with Grantland that Johnson could start, and he could start at shooting guard. Transcription via the Detroit Free Press

"Here's the thing I've even said to our own players, Zach," Van Gundy said when asked if Johnson could start. "When you go 32-50, nobody's got a spot locked in. I'm looking for whoever gives us the best chance to win. So the answer to that is yes."At either (shooting guard) or (small forward). If him being in the starting lineup is our best chance to win, ahead of (Kentavious) Caldwell-Pope or Marcus Morris, yeah, he'll start."

Source: Detroit Pistons open to starting Stanley Johnson right away. 

Johnson played mainly at 2-guard in Arizona, though their best lineups featured him at the 3. He's 6-7 so he's sized well for either wing spot, and has the athleticism and playmaking ability to operate comfortably. The questions coming into last year were about his shooting, but instead, Johnson shot 37 percent from 3-point range and 47 percent overall. 

For a college player at age 19, that's a really encouraging shot chart. That 50 percent at the rim stat will improve as he learns to finish and grows stronger. The corner-3 question is problematic, particularly in Stan Van Gundy's offense, but it definitely seems like he's a natural fit there. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the incumbent starter, and has a stroke that should make him a lethal threat from the outside. Yet KCP only shot 35 percent from 3-point range last year. An improvement, but not nearly the deadly threat he's projected to be. That's a lower bar for Johnson to handle. It should be noted though that with Jackson, Jennings, and promising sophomore Spencer Dinwiddie, there's every reason to think they could use several multi-guard lineups. 

But on the other hand, Johnson could allow the Pistons to go big, with Ersan Ilyasova at the 3-spot, alongside Marcus Morris (who can also play heavy minutes at the 3) and Andre Drummond. More than anything, Johnson provides more proof of the versatility the Pistons should have next year.

Obviously, SVG's main point is that things are wide open when it comes to this team after their struggles last year. Drummond and Jackson are the only players who should figure to start, but everything else is up in the air. 

While Detroit may be thin on top-end talent, it does have a deep toolbox for Van Gundy to create ways to exploit matchups. 

HT: Piston Powered

Stanley Johnson figures to be a big part of the Pistons from the get-go.   (USATSI)
Stanley Johnson figures to be a big part of the Pistons from the get-go. (USATSI)