Five G League vets get their shot to open eyes at Detroit Pistons team camp

By Grand Rapids Drive | September 24, 2020

The overriding reason the Pistons pushed for a team camp was to get some work in for players they fully expect to be critical to their future – guys like Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya and Bruce Brown. They last played a competitive game on March 11 and it’s looking like the NBA, based on commissioner Adam Silver’s most recent comments, won’t resume again until 2021.

But the camp, which runs through Oct. 6, is also an opportunity for the five G League players each of the eight franchises excluded from the NBA’s Orlando bubble were allowed to invite to fill out rosters and make scrimmaging a realistic option to catch someone’s eye.

Dwane Casey said last week that he leaned on the advice of Donnie Tyndall, who coached the Drive last season but this summer accepted the job at junior college power Chipola College, to fill the five openings the Pistons were allowed.

They weren’t necessarily the most talented, Casey said, but they came “highly recommended” from Tyndal. “Hard-working guys who’ll come in and make our practices and our bubble competitive.”

Here’s a look at the five players the Pistons invited to participate in their team camp:

Tre’Shawn Thurman – A 6-foot-8 forward who played three years at Nebraska-Omaha and finished with a year at Nevada, Thurman, a native of Omaha, Neb., started 119 of his 127 college games and averaged at least 26 minutes in each of his four college seasons. As a junior at Nebraska-Omaha, a member of the Division I Summit League, Thurman averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. He did most of his scoring inside the 3-point arc, shooting under 30 percent from the line in all four years while taking less than 20 percent of his shots from distance.

As a G League rookie in 2019-20, Thurman started four of 38 games for the Drive and averaged 7.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16 minutes a game. His transformation on the offensive end was clear and encouraging. More than half of Thurman’s shots – 53 percent – came from the 3-point line and he made them at a 36.2 percent clip from the greater distance.

That gives Thurman a shot, should he continue to show promise as a 3-point shooter, to stick as a 3-and-D wing with the size to play at power forward.

Tra-Deon Hollins – A 6-foot-2 guard who played two years at Nebraska-Omaha after a year each at Central Community College (Grand Island, Neb.) before moving on to Chipola (Marianna, Fla.). At UNO, Hollins – like Thurman, a native of Omaha, Neb. – immediately made his mark, winning both the Summit League Defensive Player of the Year and Transfer of the Year awards as a junior while being named to the all-conference first team.
Over two years at UNO, Hollins averaged 13.0 points, 6.3 assists and 3.7 steals, starting 62 of 64 games and averaging nearly 33 minutes.

Hollins spent his first two G League seasons with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants before being picked up by the Drive for 2019-20. He started 10 of his 37 games for the Drive, averaging 6.9 points and 7.9 assists in 24 minutes a game. Hollins shot poorly from the 3-point arc, making just 18.6 percent on 2.3 attempts per game while taking a third of his shots from distance.

Adam Woodbury – A four-year starter at Iowa, the 7-foot-1 Woodbury has spent four seasons in the G League since his Big Ten career ended in 2016. Woodbury averaged 7.6 points and 8.3 rebounds as an Iowa senior, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 25 minutes a game. In 137 college games, Woodbury, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, never attempted a 3-point shot and he’s taken only seven in 148 career G League games.

Woodbury has played for Fort Wayne, Westchester and Stockton in addition to two stints with the Drive. He played 36 games in 2018-19 with them and rejoined the Drive – after finishing 2018-19 with Stockton – for the entire 2019-20 season, during which Woodbury started six of his 41 games. He played behind Donta Hall, who signed two 10-day contracts with the Pistons and then was picked up by Brooklyn for Orlando bubble play, and averaged 10.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 20 minutes.

Khalil Iverson – A two-year starter and four-year rotation player at Wisconsin, Iverson made his mark in the Big Ten mostly as a tough, physical defender for the Badgers. He was a G League rookie in 2019-20 with the Drive.
The 6-foot-5 Iverson, like Thurman, flashed some 3-point potential in the G League after being a non-threat from distance in college. In four seasons at Wisconsin, Iverson – who averaged 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 21 minutes a game over four college seasons, topping out at 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 30 minutes a game as a junior – shot just 12.7 percent on 55 career triples.

As a Drive rookie, Iverson, from Delaware, Ohio, hit 36.4 percent of his triples, though only 12 percent of his shots came from distance. Iverson started four of his 40 games for the Drive, finishing with averages of 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17 minutes a game.

Craig Sword – A four-year starter at Mississippi State, Sword went undrafted in 2016 and has split his four seasons since then between the G League and pro leagues in Poland and Mexico.
A 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Sword started 35 of his 41 games for the Drive last season, averaging 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 24 minutes a game while shooting just .206 from the 3-point arc and taking only 21 percent of his shots from there.

Sword, a Montgomery, Ala., native, started 115 of his 123 career games at Mississippi State despite missing time in his junior year with a back injury and averaged in double figures all four seasons, earning second-team All-SEC honors as a senior when he averaged 13.0 points in 29 minutes a game.

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