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Archive → January, 2010

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic

Essentials

Date: Jan. 31, 2010

Time: 6 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 15-30

Orlando: 31-16

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Richard
Hamilton

Tayshaun
Prince

Chris
Wilcox

Ben
Wallace

Orlando:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

 

Jameer
Nelson

Vince 
Carter

Matt
Barnes

Rashard
Lewis

Dwight
Howard

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +5

Over/under: 187

Score: Orlando wins, 96-91

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.1 (26th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.2 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

Orlando offensive rating: 108.5 (11th)

Orlando defensive rating: 103.1 (6th)

Orlando pace: 92.9 (14th)

Score: Orlando wins, 99-93

Outlook

Friday Trade Idea: Acquiring Ty Lawson in a three-way deal

Every Friday (well, that’s the goal), I’ll analyze a potential Pistons trade. It might be a rumor, a deal I completely made up blindly (like this one) or one you suggest (e-mail me at [email protected] or leave a proposal in the comments).

Trade

Pistons trade:

  • Richard Hamilton (19.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals)
  • Ben Wallace (5.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.3 steals)
  • DaJuan Summers (2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.2 steals)

Pistons receive:

  • Ty Lawson (9.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.9 steals)
  • Jared Jeffries (4.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 steals)
  • Renaldo Balkman (1.3 points, 2.0 rebounds,  0.4 assists,  0.1 blocks, 0.6 steals)
  • Johan Petro (1.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.0 steals)

Nuggets trade:

  • Ty Lawson (9.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.9 steals)
  • J.R. Smith (14.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.2 steals)
  • Joey Graham (4.2 points, 1.8 rebounds,  0.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.3 steals)
  • Renaldo Balkman (1.3 points, 2.0 rebounds,  0.4 assists,  0.1 blocks, 0.6 steals)
  • Johan Petro (1.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.0 steals)
  • Malik Allen (1.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.0 steals)

Nuggets receive:

  • Richard Hamilton (19.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals)
  • Ben Wallace (5.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.3 steals)
  • Nate Robinson (12.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals)
  • DaJuan Summers (2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.2 steals)

Knicks trade:

  • Nate Robinson (12.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals)
  • Jared Jeffries (4.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 steals)

Knicks receive:

  • J.R. Smith (14.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.2 steals)
  • Joey Graham (4.2 points, 1.8 rebounds,  0.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.3 steals)
  • Malik Allen (1.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.0 steals)

Salaries

Pistons trade:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Richard Hamilton $11,625,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $0
Ben Wallace $1,306,455 $0 $0 $0 $0
DaJuan Summers $457,588 $762,195 $1,059,293 $0 $0
Total $13,389,043 $13,412,195 $13,709,293 $12,650,000 $0

Pistons receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Jared Jeffries $6,466,600 $6,883,400 $0 $0 $0
Renaldo Balkman $2,036,920 $1,675,000 $1,675,000 $1,675,000 $0
Ty Lawson $1,438,680 $1,546,560 $1,654,440 $2,544,528 $3,610,685
Johan Petro $884,881 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $10,827,081 $10,104,960 $3,329,440 $4,219,528 $3,610,685

Nuggets trade:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
J.R. Smith $5,508,426 $6,031,851 $0 $0 $0
Renaldo Balkman $2,036,920 $1,675,000 $1,675,000 $1,675,000 $0
Ty Lawson $1,438,680 $1,546,560 $1,654,440 $2,544,528 $3,610,685
Malik Allen $1,300,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Joey Graham $884,881 $0 $0 $0 $0
Johan Petro $884,881 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $12,053,788 $9,253,411 $3,329,440 $4,219,528 $3,610,685

Nuggets receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Richard Hamilton $11,625,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $0
Nate Robinson $4,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Ben Wallace $1,306,455 $0 $0 $0 $0
DaJuan Summers $457,588 $762,195 $1,059,293 $0 $0
Total $17,389,043 $13,412,195 $13,709,293 $12,650,000 $0

Knicks trade:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Jared Jeffries $6,466,600 $6,883,400 $0 $0 $0
Nate Robinson $4,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $10,466,600 $6,883,400 $0 $0 $0

Knicks receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
J.R. Smith $5,508,426 $6,031,851 $0 $0 $0
Malik Allen $1,300,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Joey Graham $884,881 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $7,693,307 $6,031,851 $0 $0 $0

Player option

Team option

Qualifying option

Pistons’ perspective

My initial idea was doing something around Richard Hamilton for Ty Lawson. Obviously, that doesn’t work cap-wise, and since the Pistons would have little use for J.R. Smith, a third team probably would have to be involved.

The Pistons are actively shopping Hamilton, so parting with him wouldn’t be a problem. Ben Wallace is a different story.

He wanted to come to Detroit and nowhere else this summer. Wallace has been awesome this year. He’s been Detroit’s best player, just excellent defensively and on the glass.

But this would basically be the one deal that could work with him. He just wants to be in Detroit, but he also signed thinking the Pistons were aiming to make the playoffs and challenge for the second round – which was true at the time.

This trade would obviously represent a change in the Pistons’ philosophy, aiming more toward rebuilding. I don’t think Wallace would want to be a part of that, so I think he could be convinced Denver would be a good place to play.

I think with the respect Joe Dumars has for Wallace, he would seek Wallace’s approval before doing the trade. Denver would probably require that conversation, too, given Wallace’s previous statements about deciding not to retire so he could play in Detroit.

With Billups and Hamilton there, Denver might be more of a home than Detroit. Plus, we’d get a pretty good look at what it would have been like had the Pistons drafted Carmelo Anthony instead of Darko Milicic in 2003.

Moving to what Detroit would be getting:

Lawson is a true point guard and would allow Rodney Stuckey to shift to shooting guard. Lawson’s outside shooting would balance Stuckey’s ability to get to the rim. This would be the premier young backcourt in the league.

Jared Jeffries was underrated a few weeks ago. Then, he started getting a lot of credit all of a sudden. He’s probably fairly rated now. He’d bring strong defense to a team that badly needs it and could serve as a good role model for Jonas Jerebko.

Renaldo Balkman is a hustle player with an affordable contract. Pistons coach John Kuester recently complained about Detroit’s effort. Balkman would help change that.

The Pistons would cut Petro.

For the Nuggets, this would be a win-now move. Richard Hamilton obviously plays best with Chauncey Billups. They complement each other very well, and Hamilton is finally back from injury and looking closer to his old self.

Nate Robinson would fill the scoring role off the bench that J.R. Smith does now.

A concern for the Nuggets would be losing three more players than they acquire. But the Pistons would cut Petro, and I assume the Knicks would drop Allen and/or Graham. Could the Nuggets survive 30 days waiting for them with 10-day contracts and a smaller roster? That’s the main reason DeJuan Summers is included.

The Knicks would have an extra $851,549 in cap room this summer. They’d also add a very talented player in J.R. Smith to help attract free agents. I’d assume they’d cut Allen and/or Graham.

Nuggets’ perspective

For each trade, I will seek the analysis of the other team’s TrueHoop Network blogger.

Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company:

From the Nuggets’ standpoint I am not sure this makes sense.

The Nuggets would love to add a big man to help them handle the size of the Los Angeles Lakers’ front line. Nene held his own against Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but he is the only big on the roster with any girth. Kenyon Martin is too light in the haunches to handle Bynum and a little short to deal with Gasol. Big Ben would give the Nuggets much better flexibility when dealing with the Lakers talented front court. 

Here is a little update after J.R.’s issues against the Hornets a few days ago.

J.R. Smith once again found himself in hot water with management after temporarily leaving the bench and pouting after getting pulled from a game against the Hornets last week. There was apparently a great deal of debate among the Denver brass about whether or not to suspend him. The ultimate decision was to allow J.R. to play, and reports are that the Nuggets are not seeking to trade him before the deadline, but you have to wonder if the fact that Smith is still dealing with maturity issues in his sixth NBA season makes decreases his value amongst decision makers in the Nuggets’ organization.

I can see how Hamilton would make them a little more stable, but Lawson and Smith are both game-changing players, and they give Denver a lot of offensive depth. Plus, adding Hamilton would force them to radically change what the Nuggets do on offense. Instead of a pick and roll/isolation concept they would have to start running Hamilton off of screens. 

Robinson can light it up, and it might seem like he could be the offensive force off the bench that J.R. currently is, but he is wildly inconsistent, even more so than J.R., and is a serious defensive liability. What makes J.R. so special in my eyes is he is much more than a scorer. J.R. is great running the pick and roll with Nene and he can drive and dish as well as any two guard in the league. Robinson might be able to match Smith’s scoring average, but he can not be the set up man J.R. can be.

With Lawson, he is the point guard of the future and with Chauncey showing signs of age and wearing down late last season I do not think they can afford to part with him. 

That trade also adds more money to the payroll for this season and next, and I do not think the Nuggets will do that without the deal guaranteeing them a spot in the finals, which would obviously be some special transaction. If they are going to challenge the Lakers, they need a fourth highly competent big man. Even so, I do not expect them to part with Smith or Lawson for another big. They are both too important and each of them are great fits for what the Nuggets need.

I think you are barking up the right tree with the all of the players you have included in the Balkmans, Grahams and Allens.  I believe the Nuggets would part with all of them in order to get the player, or players, they want.

The trade would give Denver a more "stable" shooting guard with a championship pedigree and help in the front court they desperately need to match up with the size of the Lakers.

Even acquiring Hamilton, Wallace and Robinson I believe giving up Earl III and Lawson is more than Denver could stomach. To this point the Nuggets’ front office has not been afraid to make bold and even unpopular moves, but the one thing they have not done is given up a young building block.

My response

If there was ever a time to give up young building blocks, this is it. The Nuggets are on the verge of contention, and this move could get them over the top. Plus, with a lockout looming, planning for the future is harder to do than usual.

Knicks perspective

Kevin McElroy of KnickerBlogger.net:

I like it for the Knicks and think they would probably do it. I would have liked it even more a couple months ago if they’d had time to try to move Smith for an expiring contract before the deadline.

I think they probably get a little worse this year, but have more upside if they can get acclimated to playing with Smith. Long-term, Smith is a more attractive teammate for free agents than Jeffries.

You could put Smith in a sign and trade with Lee this summer to equal the salary of a max player. Say the Raptors can’t sign Bosh, and the Knicks don’t have enough cap room for him. Does Toronto give them Bosh for a package of Lee and J.R. Smith rather than letting him walk for free? I think they at least consider it.

I also think Smith might fetch a late first rounder in a draft where the Knicks famously don’t have one.

I would want the Knicks to take it.

My response

If Detroit and Denver were dedicated to making something like this happen, the Knicks would be the right team at the right time to take advantage. They not only add a quality young player, they meet their primary goal of adding cap room for this summer. The deal is so good for them, I almost had them giving up a draft pick, too.

Verdict

The Pistons would say yes if Ben Wallace approved the move to Denver, and I think he could be talked into that. The Knicks would do it. If the Nuggets can afford the luxury tax hit, I think they are very tempted. In the end, the probably pass.

Previous

Ben Wallace won’t be an All-Star, but I think he has an excuse

Ben Wallace won’t be on the All-Star team, and I can’t complain about that.

Reserve Al Horford is more deserving. David Lee, Joakim Noah, Kendrick Perkins, Brooke Lopez and Andrew Bogut can make strong cases, too.

But Lee, 26, is the oldest of those players. Ben Wallace is 35!

You won’t hear is name mentioned among the snubs, and I agree his play is one step below the near-All-Star level. He’s not the best, but he’s competing against players so much younger than him and excelling. I just wanted to take a moment to point out what a special season he’s having.

Yes, it’s been a long season when I’m excited about the Pistons’ near-near-All-Star.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Essentials

Date: Jan. 27, 2010

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Records

Detroit: 15-28

Memphis: 25-19

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Richard
Hamilton

Tayshaun
Prince

Chris
Wilcox

Ben
Wallace

Memphis:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Mike
Conley

O.J.
Mayo

Rudy
Gay

Zach
Randolph

Marc
Gasol

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -2

Over/under: 197

Score: Detroit wins, 100-98

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.4 (25th)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.8 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.7 (29th)

Memphis offensive rating: 110.0 (8th)

Memphis defensive rating: 109.8 (24th)

Memphis  pace: 93.7 (9th)

Score: Memphis wins, 100-97

Outlook

Sorting the Detroit Pistons by how much they each play with Ben Wallace could be the key to building their best lineup

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott often talks about the value of advanced statistics. His opinion, and one I share, is they’re valuable. But they shouldn’t always stand alone. They should be combined with qualitative observations. Here’s my attempt at doing that.

In his recent Q&A with Keith Langlois, Joe Dumars talked about what he’s learned this season. The general manager said, with all of Detroit’s injuries, you really can’t tell what kind of team you have. But you can evaluate individual players.

I’m just not sure we’ve been doing that properly.

If you’ve watched the Pistons this season, you know Ben Wallace has been their best player. You don’t need advance statistics to tell you that, but here are a few anyway:

  • His plus-minus per 48 minutes (-1.3) leads the team.
  • He leads Detroit in win shares (3.4).
  • He leads the Pistons in offensive rating (117) and defensive rating (104), too.

By almost any measure, quantitative or qualitative, Wallace is Detroit’s best player.

He gets most of his credit for defense. He blocks a lot of shots and alters even more. He’s a very good defensive rebounder. He also collects many of steals.

Wallace provides plenty on offense, too. He leads the league in offensive rebounding percentage. He sets excellent screens. He’s a good passer for his size. His true shooting percentage is even its highest since his second season in Detroit.

On both sides of the court, Wallace knows his assignment. When Wallace is playing, Pistons coach John Kuester can focus on the other four players – just another way Wallace makes Detroit more effective.

After Wallace, ranking the Pistons gets pretty murky.

Think about your ideal Detroit lineup. Wallace is obviously in it. But who are the other four players? Besides DaJaun Summers, you could make a semi-reasonable case for anyone else on the roster.

(And before you say it, playing Chucky Atkins at point guard might be the way to make Rodney Stuckey most effective, if that’s what you’re going for.)

Still, you have an idea of which players besides Wallace are best. But I think most evaluations of the other Pistons miss a critical factor.

My theory: Someone who plays a high percentage of his minutes with Wallace is more likely to be overrated. Someone who plays a low percentage of his minutes with Wallace is more likely to be underrated.

That’s not to say this is a rule. But if someone has more opportunities to play with Detroit’s top player, especially one who does so many little things well, I think that’s a tremendous advantage. That player could easily end up looking better than he is.

Let’s look at a visual.

Chart

image

Some keys to reading this graph:

  • The farther right the player, the more minutes he’s played with Wallace.
  • The higher on the graph a player, the better his plus-minus per 48 minutes.
  • The red line represents the expected value of a a player’s plus-minus per 48 minutes based on the percentage minutes he’s played with Ben Wallace. The farther a player is above the line, the better he’s done that expected based on the percentage of his minutes he’s played with Wallace. The farther a player is below the line, the worse he’s done that expected based on the percentage of his minutes he’s played with Wallace.

Most likely to be overrated

Obviously, there are a lot of ways to assess whether a player is overrated. But let’s just stick with this measure. Here are the percentage of each player’s minutes he’s played with Wallace:

  1. Tayshaun Prince (73.7 percent)
  2. Jonas Jerebko (73.7 percent)
  3. Richard Hamilton (73.6 percent)
  4. Rodney Stuckey (71.2 percent)
  5. Ben Gordon (63.7 percent)
  6. Charlie Villanueva (60.4 percent)
  7. Chucky Atkins (56.6 percent)
  8. Jason Maxiell (48.1 percent)
  9. Will Bynum (42.5 percent)
  10. Austin Daye (36.1 percent)
  11. Chris Wilcox (29.3 percent)
  12. DaJuan Summers (23.2 percent)
  13. Kwame Brown (7.3 percent)

So, if the goal is to evaluate which players are best, the players near the bottom of that list should play more minutes with Wallace instead of the players near the top.

Let’s look at a couple specific switches the Pistons should make to their rotation:

Kwame Brown for Chris Wilcox

Brown’s plus-minus per 48 minutes is farther above his expected value than any other Piston. But getting on the court with Wallace could be difficult.

Wallace and Brown are the only two Pistons who can legitimately play center in the NBA (and judging by Brown’s minutes, Wallace is really the only one). That explains why Brown has, by far, played the fewest minutes with Wallace.

Wilcox hasn’t played a lot with Wallace, either. But it’s been more than three times as much as Brown.

And despite more playing time with Wallace, Wilcox has been less effective than Brown in terms of plus-minus per 48 minutes.

Before the season, there was talk of Wallace and Brown starting together. I think it’s time to give that duo another chance. Maybe Brown wouldn’t look as terrible as he has.

Austin Daye for Tayshaun Prince

Next to Brown, Daye has performed the second best based on how much he’s played with Wallace. Prince is third worst behind Wilcox and DaJuan Summers.

Prince and Daye both play small forward, so the switch makes a lot of sense. A bonus: Daye is younger and a key part of the Pistons future, and Prince isn’t.

Daye has played a lot in garbage time, and Prince has been injured. So, there’s a good chance Daye would flop if he took Prince’s minutes.

But I’d be willing to take the chance to find out.

A new lineup

To restate, I’d like to see Austin Daye and Kwame Brown play more minutes with Ben Wallace. Those three haven’t played together much this season, just 7:20.

I know the sample size is small, but in that limited time, they’ve been awesome. They’re plus-11 with an offensive rating of 135.7 and a defensive rating of 57.1.

By conventional wisdom, Wallace, Daye and Brown would best be paired with a backcourt of Stuckey and Hamilton – maybe Stuckey and Gordon. Neither of those combinations has played together this season.

The Pistons should take a serious look at these changes. It would help them evaluate their players better. And it might even help them win some games.

Summary

  • Ben Wallace is the Pistons’ best player.
  • Players who play most of their minutes with Wallace might look better than they really are.
  • Kwame Brown, in lieu of Chris Wilcox, should play more minutes with Wallace.
  • Austin Daye, in lieu of Tayshaun Prince, should play more minutes with Wallace.

Didn’t like the Ben Gordon and and Charlie Villanueva signings? Joe Dumars inadvertently explains why you’re right

 From Keith Langlois’ recent Q&A with Joe Dumars:

KL: Your peers, many of them, have been positioning themselves for a couple of years for this summer’s free-agent class. Eighteen months ago, they were positioning themselves with the idea that the salary cap would be something more than $60 million. Now it appears it could be $10 million less than that. Unless something happens by the trade deadline, you won’t be in a position to be major players in free agency this summer. But do you have a sense of what the free-agent market will be like based on the cap coming down?

JD: I think the top-tier free agents are always going to command and always going to have the leverage. Once you get beyond that, it always becomes a buyer’s market after that. I don’t see that being any different this year. The top-tier guys are going to command what they command. They’re going to dictate and control where they go and how much they sign for, then after that history has shown us that you can cut some pretty good deals.

Here are the five free agents who received the most guaranteed money last summer:

  1. Ben Gordon, Pistons ($58 million, five years)
  2. Hedo Turkoglu, Raptors ($53 million, five years)
  3. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers Cleveland ($42.5 million, five years)* UPDATE: Thanks to Steve Kays for pointing out $4 million Varaejao’s final year are guaranteed.)
  4. Charlie Villanueva, Pistons ($37.7 million, five years)
  5. Marvin Williams, Hawks ($37.5 million, five years)*

*resigned with current team

So, Joe Dumars says the top free agents can dictate their price. He says the next-level players can be bargains.

He also signs the No. 1 and No. 4 free agents in terms of guaranteed money.

  • Did Dumars not learn this until last summer?
  • Did he not understand the market and think Gordon and Villanueva were second-tier free agents?
  • Did he think Gordon and Villanueva were good enough to supersede the rule?

Something doesn’t add up. And that’s coming from someone who liked (but didn’t love) both signings.

Player Report: Ben Gordon

Role

Gordon is Detroit’s sixth man, but he should play close to the minutes of a starter. He’s owed more money than anyone else on the team. You don’t sign someone for so much money to play him like a backup.

Scouting report

Will: Score.

Gordon can shoot from the outside and mid-range. He can drive to the basket and get to the line. He makes easy shots, and he makes tough shots.

In many ways, Gordon is just a role player, and his role is scoring.

As note previously, just eight players scored more with a higher true shooting percentage than Gordo last season:

  • Dwyane Wade
  • LeBron James
  • Danny Granger
  • Kevin Durant
  • Kevin Martin
  • Chris Paul
  • Brandon Roy
  • Amar’e Stoudemire

When he’s healthy, Gordon will prove he belongs among the league’s elite scorers.

Won’t: defend.

I talked with Matt McHale of By the Horns (more from him later) a little bit before the season about Gordon’s defense. Matt said if Gordon is around good defenders, he won’t be a liability. Gordon just doesn’t have the size or instincts to be a good defender – no matter how hard he tries (and he does try).

Basically, Matt told me not to waste time figuring out how Gordon can become a better defender. It’s not happening.

That reminded me a lot of Richard Hamilton, who was probably the weakest defender in the Pistons’ recent-glory-days starting lineup. But Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups didn’t really have to cover for him. Around those guys, he could hold his own.

So, even though Gordon won’t ever be a good defender, I’m encouraged for a few reasons.

1. Playing with Rodney Stuckey should allow Gordon to cover more point guards, who will probably be a better matchup for him.

2. Gordon has a 6-foot-8.5 wingspan, which should help make up his lack of lateral quickness.

3. With Gordon’s top-end scoring ability, it makes sense for the Pistons to surround him with good defenders in the long run, anyway. It’s nice to know he won’t cripple their defensive efforts.

Must improve: playmaking.

In the short term, it would be great if Ben Gordon could play some point guard, so he can play minutes with Richard Hamilton. This is especially important if Will Bynum remains out with an injury.

But the long term is much more significant here. Unless the plan has changed, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey are the Pistons’ backcourt of the future.

As we’ve learned, Stuckey plays best when he spends some time off the ball. For Stuckey to do that, Gordon will have to play some point guard.

Gordon has talked about a desire to be more a playmaker, so I don’t think he’s just stuck on scoring. But he still needs to show he can be one.

Stock

Falling

With his injuries and lack of production so far, Joe Dumars has taken a lot of heat for signing Gordon. Gordon has only played 25 games with the Pistons, so this could easily change. But the early returns have been poor.

Three predictions

1. Gordon will lead the Pistons in scoring next season and several straight after that.

Since arriving in Detroit, Richard Hamilton has led the Pistons in points per game for seven straight seasons. He’s leading again this year, and I think he’ll hold on.

But I think he passes the torch to Gordon next year. Gordon will have a lengthy streak of his own, but I don’t think he passes Hamilton’s – whether it ends at seven or eight.

2. Gordon will be the Piston to make an All-Star team.

Ben Wallace might deserve to go this year, but playing strong defense on a bad team doesn’t usually garner an All-Star berth.

Gordon will develop the stats and recognition to become an All-Star. As I wrote above, Gordon might be just a role player. But his role, scoring, is the most noticed.

3. This season will be Gordon’s worst as a Piston.

He’s suffered multiple injuries and just hasn’t gotten into a rhythm yet this year. He’s only 26, so I think his best years are ahead of him. And there’s a decent chance Richard Hamilton isn’t a Piston next year.

Add all that up, and Gordon has plenty of room to go up.

In other words

Matt McHale of By the Horns sent this great analysis:

“Here’s the thing about Ben Gordon: He will always go balls to the wall (or all out, if you want to put it cleanly) at what he does best: scoring. Having a player who can give you 20 PPG, no matter what, is quite an asset, especially when that guy knocks down 40+ percent of his treys. He also can drill clutch shots, and he’s never afraid to take them. Ben’s not quite Reggie Miller in that respect, but he’s closer than you might think. (It would probably help if he got more chances to make waves in the playoffs.)

His weaknesses are in the following areas: ball-handling, playmaking and defense. Basically, everything else (other than scoring) that you want from a shooting guard. It’s not that Ben doesn’t try on defense — he does — but he’s simply too small for his position. He might match up pretty well against opposing point guards…I wouldn’t know. But he simply can’t match up against guys 6’5" or taller, because what he lacks in height, he does not make up for with quick hands or feet.

BG is a conundrum. On the one hand, he’s almost completely one-diminsional. On the other hand, his one dimension is pretty darn useful. I’ve always felt that Gordon would be an invaluable resource if he could find the right niche with the right team. Ideally, he could be a (much better) Eddie House for a contender: a fearless and unstoppable shooter/scorer off the bench.

Unfortunately, Ben (probably rightly) feels he should be starting. I mean, how many 20-point scorers come off the bench, right? (This is where guys like John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Detlef Schempf and Ricky Pierce cough lightly and raise their hands.) He kinda wants to be The Man, but Ben Gordon cannot carry a team by himself (save for the occasional spectacular game).

To summarize: Great scorer, limited "other" skills, has to be hidden on defense.

One last thing (or perhaps a couple things) worth noting. The biggest dig on Ben has been "He may score 20 PPG, but he gives up 25 PPG." That’s not quite fair. According to 82games.com, the 2008-09 Bulls scored 23.8 PPG from the SG position while giving up 20.2. That’s a net production of +3.6, which ranked 6th in the league at that position. The Bulls also had a net PER of +2.6 at shooting guard, which ranked 7th in the league. Since BG played about 37 MPG, most of that was his handiwork. The point is, Ben Gordon — on average — solidly outperformed opposing shooting guards last season.”

Tuesday Trivia: Shortest and tallest players

This week’s quiz is about each team’s shortest and tallest player.

My Score: 49/60

Warning: Spoilers in the comments.

Detroit Pistons’ composite midseason grades

Player DF VE DP PH CI JR KS NS AVG GPA
Chucky Atkins B B- B B B C+ D Un-Sheedtastic B- 2.57
Kwame Brown D- D D- D D+ D F Un-Sheedtastic D- 0.81
Will Bynum C C C+ Inc. B- B B- A Bynumite Sheedtastic C+ 2.45
Austin Daye C C+ B- B- C+ C+ B Sheedtastic C+ 2.48
Ben Gordon C C C+ Inc. C+ C C+ ½ Sheedtastic C+ 2.17
Richard Hamilton D- Inc. B- C C B D Un-Sheedtastic C 1.89
Jonas Jerebko A B A- B+ B+ B+ B- Swedetastic B+ 3.33
Jason Maxiell D C- C- D C- C D A non Baby Eating Un-Sheedtastic D+ 1.43
Tayshaun Prince F Inc. D+ Inc. Inc. Inc. Inc. Very Un-Sheedtastic D- 0.67
Rodney Stuckey A- B- B+ A- B+ B C+ Potential to be a solid Stucktacular B 3.14
DaJuan Summers C- Inc. C- D Inc. Inc. F Un-Sheedtastic D 1.09
Charlie Villanueva C- C B- C- C C+ C No post playing Un-Sheedtastic C 2.05
Ben Wallace A+ B+ A A+ A A A A Benified Sheedtastic A 4.00
Chris Wilcox C- C- C- C- D+ D+ C+ Un-Sheedtastic C- 1.67
John Kuester B+ C+ B- C+ B- Inc. N/A Record Don’t Lie Un-Sheedtastic B- 2.67

Highest grade for each player  Lowest grade for each player

DF: Dan Feldman of PistonPowered

VE: Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

DP: Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press

PH: Patrick Hayes of Full-Court Press

CI: Chris Iott of MLive

JR: Justin Rogers of Full-Court Press

KS: Kevin Sawyer of Detroit Bad Boys

NS: Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed (Unfortunately, I misplaced my Sheed-to-GPA conversion chart, so Natalie’s grades aren’t included in the average.)

Monday Trade Idea: Dumping Jason Maxiell

Every Friday (well, that’s the goal), I’ll analyze a potential Pistons trade. It might be a rumor, a deal I completely made up blindly (like this one) or one you suggest (e-mail me at [email protected] or leave a proposal in the comments).

Trade

Pistons receive:

  • Adam Morrison (2.7 points, 1.4 rebounds , 0.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.1 steals)

Lakers receive:

  • Jason Maxiell (5.2 points, 3.9 rebounds , 0.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.4 steals)

Salaries

Pistons receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Adam Morrison $5,257,228 $7,897,484 $0 $0
TOTALS: $5,257,228 $7,897,484 $0 $0

Lakers receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Jason Maxiell $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000
TOTALS: $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000

Player option

Qualifying option

Pistons’ perspective

Since he signed a contract at the beginning of last season, Jason Maxiell has been slipping. He just doesn’t look as intense or sharp on the court.

It may be the contract extension, but there certainly could be other factors. The Pistons lost the stable leadership of Chauncey Billups and brought in Michael Curry as coach. He hasn’t exactly improved under John Kuester, either.

With the years and dollars left on his contract, Maxiell probably isn’t the best fit in Detroit. If a team offers an expiring contract or a semi-usable player with just one season left after this, Detroit would have to consider a deal.

With Maxiell’s salary removed from next year’s payroll, the Pistons would have room to re-sign Ben Wallace and Will Bynum and use their mid-level exception.

But the only teams likely to have interest are contenders that will be over the cap this summer. The Lakers fit that role, and I think a change in environment could help Maxiell.

At his best, Maxiell is a valuable reserve who can score in the post, with a mid-range jumper or on putbacks. He can rebound and defend a little, too.

But he hasn’t been his best in a while. Speaking of being off your game, the Lakers’ have Adam Morrison’s expiring contract. Rumor is they’re shopping it for immediate help, and I imagine they have their sites set higher than Maxiell. But I’m not sure how much more they could get.

Lakers’ perspective

For each trade, I will seek the analysis of the other team’s TrueHoop Network blogger.

Kurt Helin of Forum Blue & Gold:

“The Lakers are not looking to take on a lot of salary — they already have the highest payroll in the game (since the Knicks started actually managing the franchise) — but they will consider a good value. While the Lakers have a dominant front line right now, a little more depth is one thing they want (not as much as a quality point guard, but it is a need).

Maxiell, especially the one from the three years before this season, can be that guy. The Lakers would simply want hustle, rebounds, and defense for 20 minutes a game. Right now, particularly when Gasol is out, Josh Powell gets those minutes and Jason is an upgrade there.

The Lakers are shopping around Morrison’s contract, it is something they will move for a piece they think improves the team.

I would have scouts taking a close look at Maxiell, to see why his game has not progressed this season, why the setback. (This is something Piston fans probably understand better than I do.)

If it is something that a change in situation and a defined roll could change, the Lakers would have to consider it. Again, due to money they may follow through on something like this, but they would consider it.

As a side note, Piston fans should not look at Morrison as any more than an expiring contract. Do not think about him the rookie, he is just not that player right now, his confidence is shot and teams have the book on how to defend him.

If he gets an open look, he can still hit the shot. He can spread the floor.

But, he cannot create his own shot and teams will run him off open looks and force him to move, then it comes apart. Also, he is not a good defender at all.

This is not a case where he is right on the edge of turning the corner and becoming the player people had thought. This would be an expiring contract and little else.”

My response

I wouldn’t expect anything from Morrison. But if Detroit is acquiring an expiring contract for Maxiell, I’d rather it be a 25-year-old former No. 3 pick than some old, injured 35-year-old.

Verdict

The Pistons would make the trade. Barring an injury or a rotation player becoming less productive, the Lakers would pass.

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