Cast aside any qualms about the Chauncey Billups-for-Allen Iverson trade for a moment. Joe Dumars has done an excellent job as Pistons president.
Part of his shrewdness has been his ability to succeed with moves of any sort — draft picks, trades and signings have all shaped the franchise. The Thunder were built through the draft. The Celtics were built through trades. Detroit can’t be labeled like that.
But there appears to be one constant with Dumars’s moves. He gets rid of players who don’t perform in the playoffs.
In 2001-02, the Pistons secured the No. 2 seed, and the advanced to the second round for the first time in 11 years.
But they needed a full five games to beat the seventh-seeded Raptors in the first round. And they were no match for the Celtics in the second round. Dumars wasn’t satisfied.
The two starters who had the biggest drops in PER from the regular season to the playoffs lost their jobs. Jerry Stackhouse was traded to the Wizards for Richard Hamilton. And Chauncey Billups signed with Detroit, pushing Chucky Atkins to the bench.
And those aren’t the only postseason duds Dumars has jettisoned. Billups, Ben Wallace, Clifford Robinson, Corliss Williamson, Lindsey Hunter and Zeljko Rebraca left the Pistons after falling off in the playoffs.
And that brings us to Tayshaun Prince.
He has been absolutely atrocious against Cleveland. Prince is averaging 3.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 32 minutes per game. He has shot 3-of-12 and not taken a free throw.
In game one, he primarily guarded LeBron James, who had 38 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers in 41 minutes. Prince covered Delonte West more in game two. West scored 20 points on 12 shots.
And this isn’t an aberration. Prince’s once-spectacular defense has looked less than pedestrian this year.
By several metrics, Prince is the type of player Dumars moves after this season.
Barring a miracle resurgence the rest of this series, Prince’s PER will have dropped from the regular season to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
That has happened to four Pistons in the Dumars era. Billups (9.9 combined drop) and Williamson (12.8 combined drop) were traded. Rasheed Wallace (8.7) and Richard Hamilton (7.3) had lower combined drops and stuck around.
Prince’s combined drop in the last three years is 18.4.
Prince’s PER is down from 15 in the regular season to 0.3 in the playoffs (-14.7).
Since 2001-02, just two other starters have had their PER drop from the regular season to the playoffs by at least five — Stackhouse by 5.4 in 2002 and Ben Wallace by 5.2 in 2006.
Both were gone before the next season. (Richard Hamilton has a drop of 4.9 this year, so his future with Detroit could be in jeopardy, too).
Worse drop than last year
And Prince’s drop has gotten worse the last two years, from 1.5 to 14.7.
In the last nine years, seven players’ PER has dropped from the regular season to the playoffs in consecutive season, with the second drop being more than the first. Five of them were gone the next year.
Just Rasheed Wallace and Hamilton stayed with the team.
What’s most intriguing about trading Prince is he still probably has value.
Although I don’t thin Prince could stop many small forwards, he has the hardest task in the league with LeBron. Some GMs might excuse his playoff shortcomings.
And Prince, who will turn 30 next season, isn’t far removed from being one of the league’s most promising players. He was as good as a role player could be. He defended, scored, passed and rebounded. He was even on the Olympic team.
It’s hard to erase that reputation quickly. Look at this John Hollinger column on defensive players. He gives Prince an honorable mention at small forward with this comment:
Tayshaun Prince (+4.87) has been a fixture on this team in past years, but his adjusted plus-minus was terrible and it sure seemed as though guys had an easier time scoring on him than in the past.
The numbers indicated Prince has lost it. And if you’ve watched the Pistons consistently this year, you know it, too. But Hollinger is still slow to realize how far Prince has fallen. And I’m sure he’s not the only one.
A lot of people around the league seem to like Prince. There’s a solid chance Dumars is banking on that.
Regular-season vs. playoff PER
For a complete list of Pistons’ regular-season PER compared to their playoff PER since 2001-02, continue after the jump.
|Player||Year||Age||Reg. G||Reg. MP||Reg. PER||Playoff PER||Diff.|
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