Archive → June, 2009
The Detroit Shock will “will make a major announcement regarding their coaching staff today at 3:00 p.m.” Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press broke the news that Laimbeer is resigning.
A little birdie says former Detroit Pistons star Bill Laimbeer would love the Timberwolves’ head-coaching job.
While anticipating tonight’s Game 5, I started to wonder about the 2-3-2 series format’s effect on the series as opposed to the 2-2-1-1-1 format that the NBA utilized before the 1985 finals, and the one that the NHL uses. The NBA’s justification is that it cuts down on travel burdens for both the teams and players, since they’re in different conferences and therefore likely to be located relatively far apart. But I think it has another benefit for the league.
Although I wouldn’t argue that it significantly changes the outcome of a series, I think that it alters the path a series may take to get there, in particular, the occurrence of a Game 6. This higher potential for an extra game gives the NBA more TV revenue, and gives the favored team another chance to fill its arena.
For a series decided in four games, it has no effect. Both the favored team and the underdog get two home games. A sweep is equally likely in both formats. However, when the underdog gets a chance to play Game 5 at home, assuming it’s trailing in the series, it has a better chance to force a sixth game.
Even though the numbers don’t back me up on this, it just seems to make sense. What do you think?
(This series may not be the best example of this. In the time it took to fully flesh out this theory and write this post, the Magic have gone from a slight lead to trailing by double digits, but I’m still sticking by my story.)
John Hollinger of ESPN.com ranked every NBA team based on their all-time results. The Pistons are 13th.
I’m willing to concede the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and Bulls are ahead of Detroit. The 76ers, Trail Blazers and maybe even the Jazz or Rockets would be in the discussion with the Pistons for the next tier.
But 13th? C’mon, John.
Here’s a rundown of his scoring system:
- Regular season wins: one point
- Playoff wins: two points
- Playoff series wins: four points
- Championships: 30 points
- All-Star selections: two points
- Relocation: –100 points
- Intangibles: –150-150 points
It’s all per years played, so newer teams have a chance. You can find Hollinger’s full explanation of scoring here.
I can’t access Detroit’s numbers because any team ranked after 10th requires Insider to view. But I crunched some numbers.
The Pistons are seventh in championships per year and fourth in playoff wins per year. They’re just 17th in wins per year, but Hollinger says they’ve had more All-Stars than anyone besides the Lakers and Celtics. (You can see a league-wide table with wins, playoff wins and championships per year after the jump).
Also, six straight trips to the conference finals and five straight appearances by the Bad Boys should leave the Pistons high in playoff series wins.
Detroit gets a relocation penalty. But so does Oklahoma City (12th), Houston (10th), Utah (seventh) and Philadelphia (sixth).
What went wrong for Detroit?
I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m guessing the Pistons took a hit in intangibles. Here’s what Hollinger went on:
Intangibles matter too, and I created a separate category for special circumstances. For instance, the Blazers of the early part of this decade were perfectly respectable in terms of wins and losses, but few were eager to admit rooting for that team because of all the scoundrels littering the roster. This is the one part that’s completely subjective, but for several teams I subtracted or added 50 to 150 points based on playing styles, player behavior, superstars and other major factors.
My first guess was Detroit lost points for the brawl at the Palace. But the Pacers broke even on intangibles without having done anything to deserve a positive offset (“Thirty years of good karma” – What?).
No, the Pistons probably lost points because of the Bad Boys’ style (and maybe the Rick Carlisle/Larry Brown modern reincarnation, too). And that’s ridiculous. It’s jealousy.
That style should be a plus. If you’re not a Pistons fan, imagine your favorite team played that way (and the NBA still allowed it). You’d love it.
Detroiters thought Rick Mahorn was a hard worker, a tough guy and scrappy when he was a Piston. When he went to the 76ers and fought Bill Laimbeer, he was a thug.
He’s the kind of guy you love when he’s on your team and hate when he’s somewhere else. The Bad Boys were full of them.
So, other teams’ fans won’t accept it. Fine. I’m guessing Hollinger didn’t either. (Although maybe Detroit’s low ranking is for another reason. Without Insider, I don’t know for sure.)
But as a Piston fan, I’ll always be proud of the Jordan rules, holding five straight opponents under 70 points in 2004 and Laimbeer’s elbows.
This doesn’t really have much to do with the Pistons’ low ranking (it actually improves it), but I found it interesting. A brief excerpt of the article that’s available without insider:
Detroit, land of stars? Believe it. Only the Lakers and Celtics have produced more All-Star seasons than the Pistons’ 101. Whether the team is up or down, it usually has at least one bona fide star. From Dave Bing to Isiah Thomas to Grant Hill to Allen Iverson, the Pistons have almost always had at least one performer who could get fans in the door.
Nearly half (47) of the All-Stars were in addition to another selection for a given year. The Pistons haven’t really been built on stars. They’ve been successful when they’ve had a few very good players at the same time.
That should be worth some intangibles points. Teamwork – sounds pretty commendable to me.
The Spurs get smart players.
The Hawks get young forwards.
And the Knicks get overpaid veterans.
Certain types of players seem to gravitate toward certain teams. And Detroit is no exception. Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars has a pattern of targeting players with long wingspans.
Here are all of his draft picks who had their wingspans listed on Draft Express:
|Trent Plaisted||2008||C||BYU||46||6’ 9.25”||6’ 10.5”|
|Deron Washington||2008||SF||Virginia Tech||59||6’ 5.25”||6’ 9”|
|Rodney Stuckey||2007||PG||Eastern Washington||15||6’ 3.75”||6’ 7.25”|
|Will Blalock||2006||PG||Iowa State||60||5’ 11.25”||6’ 6”|
|Jason Maxiell||2005||PF||Cincinnati||26||6’ 5”||7’ 3.25”|
|Alex Acker||2005||PG||Pepperdine||60||6’ 3.75”||7’ 0”|
|Ricky Paulding||2004||SG||Missouri||54||6’ 2.75”||6’ 9.5”|
|Darko Milicic||2003||C||Serbia||2||6’ 11.5”||7’ 5”|
|Rodney White||2001||SF||Charlotte||9||6’ 7.5”||6’ 11.5”|
Plaisted is the only one who’s wingspan isn’t really impressive for his height. And here are the players with wingspans listed who were on the roster this year.
|Rodney Stuckey||PG||6’ 3.75”||6’ 7.25”|
|Jason Maxiell||PF||6’ 5”||7’ 3.25”|
|Kwame Brown||C||6’ 10”||7’ 1”|
|Allen Iverson||SG||5’ 11.25”||6’ 3.25”|
Again, this in not just a list of Pistons with long wingspans. These are the only players listed on Draft Express. Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace certainly have long wingspans, too.
So with that in mind, there’s a very good chance Detroit’s draft picks this year will have above-average wingspans. Here’s a position-by-position list of players with long wingspans in this draft. All numbers come from Draft Express, and I didn’t include players who will definitely be gone before the Pistons pick at 15.
|Jrue Holiday||UCLA||6’ 3.25”||6’ 7”||13|
|Jeff Teague||Wake Forest||6’ 0.25”||6’ 7.5”||20|
|Toney Douglass||Florida State||6’ 1”||6’ 6”||36|
|Rodrigue Beaubois||France||6’ 1.25”||6’ 9.75”||39|
|Greivis Vasquez||Maryland||6’ 4.75”||6’ 7.25”||56|
|Gerald Henderson||Duke||6’ 4”||6’ 10.25”||12|
|Terrence Williams||Louisville||6’ 5”||6’ 9”||16|
|Jermaine Taylor||Central Florida||6’ 3.5”||6’ 8.75”||32|
|Jerel McNeal||Marquette||6’ 1.5”||6’ 7.25”||46|
|Dionte Christmas||Temple||6’ 4.25”||6’ 9”||59|
|Austin Daye||Gonzaga||6’ 9.75”||7’ 2.75”||15|
|James Johnson||Wake Forest||6’ 7”||7’ 0.75”||18|
|Sam Young||Pittsburgh||6’ 5.25”||6’ 10.75”||25|
|DaJuan Summers||Georgetown||6’ 7.25”||7’ 0.75”||31|
|Danny Green||North Carolina||6’ 5.25”||6’ 10”||35|
|Damion James||Texas||6’ 6.25”||7’ 0.25”||42|
|Joe Ingles||Australia||6’ 7.75”||6’ 10.25”||52|
|Tyler Smith||Tennessee||6’ 5.25”||6’ 9.75”||No|
|Dejuan Blair||Pittsburgh||6’ 5.25”||7’ 2”||11|
|Earl Clark||Louisville||6’ 8.5”||7’ 2.5”||14|
|Gani Lawal||Georgia Tech||6’ 7.75”||7’ 0”||23|
|DaJuan Summers||Georgetown||6’ 7.25”||7’ 0.75”||31|
|Derrick Brown||Xavier||6’ 7.5”||7’ 2.5”||41|
|Josh Heytvelt||Gonzaga||6’ 10”||7’ 1.25”||50|
|Taj Gibson||USC||6’ 8.5”||7’ 4”||53|
|Jeff Adrien||Connecticut||6’ 5.25”||7’ 2”||No|
There are no centers who have impressive wingspans beside Hasheem Thabeet, who obviously won’t be available at 15.
Projecting the picks
So that narrows it down to 36. But I think there’s a strong chance Detroit’s picks come from these 36.
I’d like to whittle this list of players down as the draft approaches — hopefully, to the point there are only four left (one slotted for each of the Pistons’ picks).
I’m not sure how to make the next cut. Does anyone have ideas — either why to to take a specific player off the list or a rule to follow that would remove multiple players?
Sheed negotiating with the Cavs
Gamble also “reported” Wallace will retire if he doesn’t make $8 million next year.
The final line from the latest “report:”
If this signing falls through, I’m hearing that Cleveland may do a sign and trade with the Clippers for Zach Randolph, which certainly makes sense for the Clippers since they are taking Blake Griffin No. 1 overall.
Why it’s not true: Teams can’t begin negotiating with free agents until July 1, according to Larry Coon’s salary cap FAQ. As the Joe Smith situation showed, secret negotiations probably aren’t worth the risk. I doubt Cleveland is this stupid.
Other things Cleveland is probably smarter than: giving Wallace $20 million for two years and trading for Zach Randolph (which almost certainly wouldn’t be a sign and trade).
Amir Johnson and 15 for nothing
Johnson will make $3.67 million next season, the last year of his contract. And the 15th pick will make about $1.4 million next year.
Why it’s not true: $5 million in cap room is not as valuable as a young, athletic forward who has a low-paying expiring contract and the 15th pick. You don’t just give away two positive assets and get nothing in return.
Carlos Boozer will be a Piston or Net
Boozer is telling people he will be in Detroit or New Jersey next year, according to Peter Vecsey of the New York Post.
Obviously, the deal with New Jersey would have to be a sign and trade.
Why it’s not true: The Piston part is possible, but the New Jersey info ruins Vecsey’s credibility.
What do the Nets have to offer in a sign and trade? Bobby Simmons’s expiring contract and draft picks? OK, that makes some (albeit, very little) sense. That would put Utah over the luxury tax and its probably a no-go with the Nets.
But as Vecsey writes next:
Word has it Jersey will have but three assistants next season and all must take pay cuts.
That doesn’t sound like a team looking to add Boozer’s salary.
A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers makes an astute point. Dwight Howard’s dominance could increase Rasheed Wallace’s value this summer.
Wallace does an excellent job of defending Howard by himself. As the Orlando-Cleveland series showed, doubling Howard leaves the Magic’s shooters open and means disaster for their oppoents. Sheed is the key reason Detroit is 7-1 in its last eight games against Orlando.
Contenders are the only teams that would be concerned with stopping just one player, and contenders are usually over the salary cap. So, the Pistons could benefit from a sign and trade.
On the other hand, Ben Wallace’s career could be coming to an end, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com.
Wallace has been hampered by injuries, and he came off the bench in his last 17 games (including all 14 in the playoffs). He still has one season and $14 million left on his contract.
When Wallace left the Pistons for the Bulls, Chicago’s larger contract offer certainly served as the key reason. But I don’t think it was just about earning more money. I think Ben was insulted the Pistons didn’t offer more.
Wallace is very prideful, and I could see him hanging ‘em up if he’s not proud of how he can play.
The Cavaliers would seem most likely to want a Dwight Howard stopper. If Rasheed Wallace commands more than the mid-level exception, would Detroit sign and trade him for Ben Wallace and a first-round pick or two?
If the Pistons end up shooting for the class of 2010, this wouldn’t hurt their cap room. Ben could help develop a winning atmosphere. And a couple extra first rounders is much more than Detroit could have expected to get for Sheed.