by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Will Bynum can get as hot as just about anybody in the League. Like, dangerously hot. He’s been one of the best reserves in the L over the past handful of seasons, but, unfortunately, he’s been on some pretty bad Pistons teams.
That should change this year, though, as the Pistons retooled over the summer, adding Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, among others, to a team that already had major building blocks in place. They’ll be relevant in the East to a degree that we haven’t seen since Billups, Rip and Rasheed were around, and Bynum figures to be a big part of whatever success these Pistons achieve.
The 6-foot-nothin’ guard graciously took time to talk to SLAM last week about how he got to where he is and what lies ahead.
SLAM: Where are you now during the offseason?
Will Bynum: Chicago. I live here, I’m from Chicago.
SLAM: You host a basketball camp there. What’s the goal? What do you guys do?
WB: Some basketball, some leadership. Try to focus on the kid, try to provide him with some different leadership tools, some different classes.
SLAM: You had a tough road to the NBA. Why do you think you went undrafted? You had a pretty good college career…
WB: I’m not sure. It really didn’t matter. The fact was, I didn’t get drafted. The one thing that I could help myself by was just focusing on the things that I could focus on. And that was my game, so I just took that as motivation and it kind of helped me change the level of effort that I was putting into myself and improving my game. I was always working extremely hard, but I had to go further into detail about the things I was working on to give myself a better chance.
SLAM: You played a couple of seasons in Israel. How does the style of play over there compare to the NBA’s?
WB: It’s totally different. To me it’s more physical. Better ball movement—it’s not one-on-one at all. It’s more drive-and-kick, you know, finding the open man and sharing the basketball. Some courts are a little bit smaller. And you still have professional basketball players playing on a smaller court, so they cover more ground. So it’s harder to get to certain points on the court than it would be in the NBA on the wide court.
SLAM: You were a free agent this summer and decided to re-sign with the Pistons. Was it an easy decision?
WB: I definitely knew that I would love to go back to Detroit. I’m familiar with everything there, my daughter goes to school there, so a lot of things just worked in my favor as far as being in Detroit. And you know the organization knows me. Everyone in the organization knows what kind of player I am and what kind of character I bring to the table. So it was an easy decision for me, especially with us going from rebuilding to actually ready to contend. So that was big also.
SLAM: You’re the longest tenured Piston on the roster now. Does that mean a lot to you, since they were the team that gave you a chance in the League?
WB: Yeah it definitely means a lot to me. Joe [Dumars] took a chance on me when I first came to Detroit, you know I kinda feel loyalty to him because of that. I’d love to be a part of Detroit going back to the Playoffs and being successful because the city needs it.
SLAM: You guys have two great homegrown pieces in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. What have you seen in those two in terms of development and how good they can be?
WB: Greg is skilled and has a high basketball IQ. So with Greg, he’s gonna be able to play anywhere, he’s gonna be good regardless. Because he’s been on losing teams, it’s kinda hard to be judged at this point, so now that we’re a much better team, I think you’ll see better play from Greg.
And Andre is like a freak of nature. Andre is like something I’ve probably never ever seen before. He’s like 6-11, 300 pounds, runs like a guard, can handle the ball—he can do everything. His ceiling is extremely, extremely high. So it’s just a joy playing with either one of those guys.
SLAM: Out of the Draft, people thought Drummond was really raw and would be a project, and maybe some teams shied away from him because of that. Did you see some of that rawness?
WB: Yeah he was definitely raw, he’s still raw now. But the thing people don’t know about him is his motor. He has an extremely high motor. And what’s on the inside of him, you can tell when he’s working out and individually working on his game, that he really wants it. A lot of people just don’t get it and he definitely gets it and he wants it for himself. Like nobody has to tell him to be there on time to work—he’s there and he’s ready to work.
SLAM: You’re the sort of player who can get hot any night. What’s that like? When do you know you’re going to have a good game? Do you wake up feeling good?
WB: It just depends. It depends on the way the game is going. When you come off the bench, it’s different from when you start and play the majority of the minutes. So I’m kinda scoping out of the game and seeing how the game is going. What we need and don’t need. It just depends on how the flow is going and how the pace is going and what I need to bring to the table.
SLAM: What will Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith bring to the Pistons on the court?
WB: Man, I’m just excited. This is the most talent that I’ve played with since Chauncey and those guys were there and I only had like a week with Chauncey before they traded him [laughs]. So we know we have a lot of work ahead, and we have to get that chemistry that it takes to win at this level. Those guys have a lot of talent, no doubt, everybody knows that, but at this point in each of those guys’ careers, it’s about winning. So I think we all have the same goal in mind, so we all should be hungry, and all of us should be about nothing but winning.
SLAM: What does Chauncey Billups bring off the court?
WB: It makes the bridge easier from the coaches to the players. Because Chauncey is gonna be able to relate and he’s all about winning. So Chauncey’s a great addition and we’re all gonna learn from him. Not just myself and not just the guards—everybody on the team.
SLAM: You guys also have a new coach, Maurice Cheeks. How much have you talked to him? Are you excited to work with him?
WB: Yeah I’m extremely excited to work with Mo Cheeks. I talked to him as soon as he got the job—he reached out to me—and that was big for me. Him being a Chicago guy, me growing up in Chicago on the same block that he went to school at, that was huge for me. That was one of the big reasons that I wanted to come back to Detroit.
SLAM: You guys also got Rasheed Wallace on the coaching staff. You guys were teammates for one season. What’s that going to be like?
WB: [Laughs] We’ve always been close friends, so I’ve always stayed in touch with Sheed. This is just perfect for me the way things have fallen into place here. Hopefully, we can do some great things in Detroit.
SLAM: What’s your best Rasheed Wallace story from the year that you guys played together?
WB: [Laughs] Ah man, I got so many of those. Sheed makes the shot—like from outside of the court, like outside of the three-line but off the court, with both hands at the same time with two balls. I mean he like practiced these trick shots all the time. And he makes them! He makes these crazy shots that you’ve never ever seen before. Like he’d shoot a shot like behind the backboard with two balls with both hands—left and right hand—at the same time and make ‘em! It’s just crazy.