Atkins will be the team’s third point guard. If he plays regular minutes, there’s a problem.
Will: Make me happy.
I always felt bad for Atkins. He was the starting point guard when the Pistons went from 32 to 50 wins, and he did everything then-Pistons coach Rick Carlisle asked of him.
But Detroit brought Chauncey Billups in the next year. Billups was bigger, more talented and ready to become one of the league’s top points guards.
Atkins went to the bench, a role that doesn’t really suit him. He’s a streaky shooter and needs minutes to get in rhythm.
He was good enough to help the Pistons turn around. But he wasn’t good enough to make Detroit elite, like Billups did. So, he was cast aside after toiling on the bench for two years.
I feel for a guy who did all he could, and it still wasn’t enough. By making the team this year, Atkins finally has karma swinging in his direction.
Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon and maybe even Tayshaun Prince will see minutes at point guard before Atkins gets on the floor.
Must improve: His point guard play.
Before the season, Atkins talked about how he had become more of a true point guard in the last few years. I’m not sure how true that is since he played just 56 games the last two seasons, but that also means there’s little reason to assume it’s not.
“Over the years, I’ve learned how to hold back and do other things and let the scoring game come to me,” Atkins said. “So, I’ve learned over the years. I was a young, brash kid when I first got here. I’m a little older now.”
Atkins said the main thing he’s learned is how to conserve his energy. There’s no need to burn out right when he enters the game.
“The game may not dictate you scoring a lot of points at that time,” Akins said.
Know of any point guards on the Pistons who sometimes try to score too much and tire because of it – either in the course of a game or a season?
If Atkins keeps improving his ability to be a true point guard, his value as a mentor will increase.
Atkins appeared washed up when Detroit signed him for training camp. And he still might be, but at least he made the roster. That’s a pretty big upset.
1. Stuckey will repeatedly praise Atkins for mentoring him.
Joe Dumars is banking on Stuckey being the future of the franchise. Without having observed training camp, I have to think Atkins made an impression on Stuckey. That would be the most logical reason Atkins made the team.
2. Atkins will be a positive force in the locker room.
I don’t think Atkins will even be active for more than 25 games this year. But I think, as a 10-year veteran, he knows how to act.
Sometimes, you can put up with shenanigans from your star. But it makes no sense to allow nonsense from your 14th man. In that sense, Atkins was a good signing.
3. Atkins will be in the NBA, but not Detroit, next year.
Atkins was in the right place at the right time to make the roster this year. The odds of everything working out in Detroit again next year are pretty slim.
But I think a year with Arnie Kander will do his body wonders. I don’t see Atkins, 35, retiring quite yet, and I think he’ll be healthy enough to latch on somewhere.
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