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Austin Daye draws start for Pistons

Austin Daye made 17 3-pointers in preseason.  (Associated Press)
Austin Daye made 17 3-pointers in preseason. (Associated Press)

Former Gonzaga star to play power forward

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – After making more 3-pointers than any of his Detroit teammates this preseason, Austin Daye will be in the Postons’ starting lineup on Wednesday – at power forward.

The versatile second-year man from Gonzaga University 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 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 averaged 5.1 points per game last season as a rookie, but he was impressive this preseason, 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 preseason.

“It’s not really a big deal for me if I start or if I don’t start,” said Daye, who spoke to reporters 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 preseason game alongside former Eastern Washington University standout Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace, and that figures to be the lineup for the season opener Wednesday night at New Jersey.

Detroit also signed Tracy McGrady in the offseason. McGrady’s last two seasons were ruined by knee problems, and he played only eight minutes in the preseason, but he’s been practicing.

Daye is looking forward to a chance to shine in his second season.

“I feel like this year I have a lot more freedom,” Daye said. “Coach has seen how I’ve been playing, and he has trusted me to make the right play, do the right thing.”

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