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Game Review: Ben Gordon doesn’t deserve Vinnie Johnson comparison

It’s tempting to compare Ben Gordon, the Pistons’ latest sixth man, to Vinnie Johnson, Detroit’s quintessential reserve.

Nicknamed “The Microwave” (he heats up in a hurry), Johnson was adored by fans. He’s scored the sixth most points in franchise history. And his No. 15 hangs from the Palace rafters.

Johnson is a Pistons icon.

I just don’t think it’s fair to compare Gordon to him.

Gordon is too good.

The Pistons’ new star was on full display last night in the Pistons’ season opener, a 96-74 win over the Grizzlies. Gordon scored 22 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-7 from behind the arc.

I know it was just one game. I know it was against lowly Memphis. And I know Richard Hamilton scored more (25 points on 10-of-19 shooting).

But Gordon impressed me immensely.

When Hamilton started the game cold, Gordon came in and immediately helped Detroit take control. He even converted a four-point play.

And Gordon produced both ways great scorers do – finding easy shots and making tough ones. I think he will be the best scorer the Pistons have had in quite some time.

In his young career, Gordon has averaged 18.5 points per game and has a .554 true shooting percentage, which accounts for the value of 3-pointers and free throws.

Just 10 Pistons have ever had seasons that eclipse those numbers, let alone careers.

  • Bob Laineer (six times)
  • Kelly Tripucka (three times)
  • Adrian Dantley (twice)
  • Joe Dumars (twice)
  • Grant Hill (twice)
  • Isiah Thomas
  • Walt Bellamy
  • M.L. Carr
  • Allan Houston
  • Bailey Howell

Just Tripucka and Dantley have topped those numbers for their Pistons careers. Tripucka spent five seasons in Detroit, and Dantley was here for two-and-a-half.

Here’s to hoping Gordon, 26, sticks around longer. Maybe by then, we can find a better comparison for him.

Hamilton hurt

Hamilton also had an excellent game (who said he couldn’t play with Gordon?). But he left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive.

Unsung heroes

  • Ben Wallace had nine rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. I’m not sure if he’ll hold up all season, but he looks good right now.
  • We all know Bynum can score in bunches. But if he can show he can do more, he has an outside shot of becoming a starting point guard somewhere next year. He was just 2-of-6 from the field last night. But he also had seven assists and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

Questions remain

  • I was curious to see how the rotation would shake out this year, but this wasn’t the best game to get a peak. Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko were suspended for fighting in the preseason. Charlie Villanueva got in early foul trouble. And the game was out of hand early in the fourth quarter.
  • The Pistons have talked a lot about running more. Their pace last year (86.7 possessions per 48 minutes) was 29th in the league. They had just 81.7 possessions last night. But the pace slowed dramatically in garbage time, so it’s tough to gauge how much more Detroit wants to run.
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