D-League to Detroit

Siva, Mitchell relished their time in Fort Wayne, happy to rejoin

Peyton Siva, Tony Mitchell
Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell rejoin the Pistons after spending two weeks with the team's D-League affiliate.
David Calvert/Jack Arent (NBAE/Getty)
The Pistons picked up two much-needed wins over the weekend, then reported back to work on Monday and picked up two players.

Rookies Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell were back for a 2½-hour practice on Monday, the first of four consecutive practice days before the Pistons play again on Friday night, after a two-week stint in the D-League.

Aside from minor injuries both players incurred that diminished their production, both came back lauding their Fort Wayne experience.

“I think I got a lot of experience,” Siva said. “I had a main focus of just being aggressive down there, going out to play and really working on my guard skills. The first couple of games, I think I did a really good job of showcasing that. Unfortunately, I fell and sprained both of my wrists, then just tried to play through it. At least we got some wins down there.”

In four games, Siva averaged 12 points, 5.8 assists and two steals. But he had a 27-point, 10-assist, eight-steal game while going up against Chicago Bulls point guard and 2012 No. 1 pick Marquis Teague and another game with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals before the wrist injuries caught up to him.

“Going down there was a great thing for me,” he said. “You get a chance to work on your game, you get a chance to play against other professional guys. It was great to go down there and learn from guys and learn from coaching. I get the chance now to watch my game film with older guys like Chauncey (Billups) and Will (Bynum) who can teach me different points where I could have done better.”

Mitchell landed on his back while attempting to block a shot in his third game in Fort Wayne, then sprained his ankle in the final game the Mad Ants played in last week’s D-League Showcase in Reno, Nev.

Like Siva, though, Mitchell said the best part of his D-League experience was simply getting playing time against other professionals.

“Just playing, working on my game, learning from mistakes, just playing basketball,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to dunk on somebody, but I didn’t accomplish that. But I tried to play and learn from those guys down there and listen to those guys, what they see and how I can improve on it.”

Siva, whose calling card in earning a spot in the 2013 NBA draft was his resume as a leader, felt he benefitted by being thrust into a position of running a team without any familiarity with the personnel or the system.

“It was definitely tough to go down there and learn all the new plays,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody besides Tony, but the guys down there were great. The coach was great. He really helped us out and tried to get us in the best scoring options. I had a really good time.”

Mitchell played mostly at center for the Mad Ants, but while he characterized D-League play as physical, he was quick to add that it was, “nothing like up here. Not like (Andre Drummond) or (Greg Monroe). They don’t have anybody down there like that.”

The two rookies’ D-League stint also underscored for them the perks of the NBA. To get to Reno, the Mad Ants awoke at 4:30 a.m. to bus to Indianapolis, then flew commercially and connected in Denver.

“I wouldn’t be against going back down there,” Siva said, “but I’m glad to be back up here.”