I'd wager that not many people around the country followed the NBA's preseason. If you have, however, you would have known that one of the most impressive players in the entire league was former Zag, Austin Daye. Daye has been sensational in his second year with the Detroit Pistons, doing a little bit of everything and showing great improvement from his rookie season. He averaged 15 points and five boards a game for Detroit and has impressed the Pistons so much, that he will open the season as their starting power forward.
Like we saw during his short time at Gonzaga, Daye is a player that can do so many things well on the offensive end. His improvement defensively, however, might be the thing that cemented his place on the Pistons' starting roster. Here is a great quote from the Detroit News...
He began the game battling the burly Zach Randolph (Michigan State), who's at least 50 pounds heavier. Daye's length and effort frustrated Randolph, who had only two field goals and three rebounds.
As a power forward, Daye will likely give up a bunch of weight to the competitoin but his length and tremendous basketball IQ and feel for the game should help offset the weight difference. If he can continue to play with intensity and battle on defense, he should be a tremendous asset to the Pistons for a long time.
Selfishly, as a Gonzaga fan, it is fun to have a player in the league with so much upside and potential. Ronny Turiaf is still playing in New York, but with Daye, he is so versatile that he is going to be an impact player for many years to come. With the NBA failures of Adam Morrison and Dan Dickau, it will be so much fun to follow Austin as Gonzaga looks to repair its reputation in NBA circles.
Good luck to Austin as he kicks off his second season in the NBA on Wednesday night against the New Jersey Nets.