After making more 3-pointers than any of his Detroit teammates this exhibition season, Austin Daye will be in the starting lineup - at power forward.
The versatile second-year player from Gonzaga can give opposing teams fits with his ability to play on the perimeter, and the Pistons are hoping he’ll hold his own defensively.
At 6-foot-11, 200 pounds, Daye can play several positions, but power forward is where Detroit needs him right now after Jonas Jerebko went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon. That injury left Daye and Charlie Villanueva as the likely candidates to start.
Coach John Kuester said Monday that Daye, the No. 15 pick in 2009, was his choice, at least for now.
“He’s had a great training camp. Charlie’s had a great training camp,” Kuester said. “This is a long season. Nothing is etched in stone in regards to how we start.”
Daye, the son of former UCLA and NBA player Darren Daye, averaged 5.1 points per game last season as a rookie, then he was impressive this exhibition season, playing more minutes than anyone on the team and averaging 15.9 points.
Daye made a team-high 17 shots from 3-point range in exhibition games, but now he’ll also have to play around the basket, at least on defense. Daye averaged 2.5 rebounds last season, but that figure jumped to 5.6 this exhibition season.
“It’s not really a big deal for me if I start or if I don’t start,” said Daye, who spoke before Kuester announced he was the starter. “It’s always a matter of me playing significant minutes and I’ll be happy.”
Daye started the last exhibition game alongside Kentwood’s Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace, and that figures to be the lineup for the season opener Wednesday at New Jersey.
The Pistons won only 27 games last season, when injuries forced the team into all sorts of different lineups. Eleven players started at least 10 games for Detroit.
Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Martell Webster, a former Seattle Prep star, will miss the next four to six weeks to recover from back surgery. The Oklahoma City Thunder exercised its contract options on six players, including starting point guard Russell Westbrook. The Milwaukee Bucks exercised the third-year option on guard Brandon Jennings’ rookie contract. The option for the 2011-12 season is worth about $2.5 million. Jennings, who scored 55 points against Golden State last Nov. 14, was selected 10th in last year’s draft. He started all 82 games for the Bucks and finished third among rookies with 15.5 points, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals. Mercurial guard Gilbert Arenas has a sore right ankle and could miss the Washington Wizards’ season opener Thursday at Orlando. The Sacramento Kings exercised a contract option on reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans as well as exercising options on third-year forwards Jason Thompson and Donte Greene, and second-year forward Omri Casspi. Swingman Da’Sean Butler and point guard Patrick Beverley were waived by the Miami Heat. Butler tore a knee ligament while playing for West Virginia in last season’s NCAA Final Four semifinal against Duke. The New Jersey Nets donated $75,000 to a fund to help paralyzed Rutgers’ football player Eric LeGrand.