Archive → January, 2010
Ben Wallace ranks 21st in Wins Produced and 27th in Wins Produced per 48 minutes in the league. Obviously, he leads the Pistons in both categories.
But I began to wonder. Wallace will make just $1,306,455 this season. Did anyone else in the league produce more wins (so far) per dollar earned (for the entire season)? I figured it would be pretty tough to find someone besides a benchwarmer with fluky stats to beat him.
I was wrong.
Jonas Jerebko produces the most wins per dollar earned in the league. Wallace ranks second.
If only Detroit had a few more players like them.
Other thoughts on Wins Produced
- Despite missing 14 of Detroit’s first 41 games, Will Bynum ranks third on the team with 2.9 Wins Produced. Of all other players third on their team, the Nets’ Courtney Lee (2.4 Wins Produced) is the only player who’s produced fewer wins.
- Richard Hamilton has a negative Wins Produced. Only two players with negative Wins Produced have a higher salary: Brad Miller and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
- DeJuan Blair ranks third in Wins Produced per dollar earned, Rajon Rondo ranks fourth, and Joakim Noah is fifth.
- Of all players earning at least the mid-level exception, Marcus Camby has the most Wins Produced per dollar earned.
- LeBron James is tops in Wins Produced per dollar earned among all players making eight digits.
To see a table with Wins Produced and Winds Produced per $1 million earned, see below the jump.
It started with some encouragement:
Nice job, Tay. Way to go, Rip.
Pistons coach John Kuester, usually comfortable in his courtside seat, began the second half of last night’s game by standing and yelling positive reinforcements to the Pistons. He stood the final 24 minutes, looking like someone who had just wandered onto the court and wasn’t entirely sure how to act in a new setting.
His positive comments came before the players deserved them. Two possessions weren’t enough to show they would be any less soft in the second half than they were in the first.
But it worked. They Pistons played harder and crisper. They began the second half on a 21-6 run and stayed in the game until the final seconds. Kuester’s focused demeanor and high spirits made them believe.
But I’m not convinced.
Detroit still lost, 97-93. Why should this game be different? Because the Pistons didn’t lie down for the entire game, like they did last night? Or because they didn’t wait until there were five minutes left to pick up the intensity, like they did when these teams met in November?
All three games ended in losses. Detroit has had plenty of second-half comebacks this season – and most have ended in deafeats. After each, I hoped the Pistons were turning the corner.
This time, I’m not holding my breath.
Late in the third quarter, Rudy Fernandez drove to the basket, and Charlie Villanueva decided to make Fernandez earn the points at the free-throw line.
It didn’t look like Villanueva fouled him that hard, but Fernandez spun around and crashed to the floor. Maybe Fernandez was acting a bit, or maybe Villanueva’s foul was worse than it appeared to me.
Either way, Juwan Howard took exception and got in Villanueva’s face. They were quickly separated by several players, but Villanueva tried to go through the crowd and get to Howard.
Howard saw Villanueva coming and got more upset. Jason Maxiell pushed Howard away, and Rodney Stuckey held onto Villanueva. Tensions cooled.
If anyone deserves blame, it’s Villanueva – and that’s still assuming his initial foul wasn’t with malice. Howard was just playing his role by sticking up for Fernandez. Once they were separated, Villanueva should’ve let it die.
That said, I don’t think the incident was a big deal. And I’m not upset with Villanueva for being fiery. I just wish he constantly showed that attitude with the ball in play.
When the game resumed, the officials began calling a tight game. They did for so both teams, but it probably hurt the Pistons more. The frequent whistles took away the aggressiveness that got them back in the game and killed their momentum.
I’m starting to think Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton could make a good backcourt – this season and going forward.
Hamilton, who made nine assists tonight, has gotten more comfortable with the ball in his hands. I don’t think he’s played what most would consider the point guard position, but he’s assumed point guard-like duties plenty of times.
And the Pistons are learning Stuckey plays best when he spends time off the ball.
The duo is beginning to strike a balance of sharing the playmaking and scoring duties.
So where does that leave Ben Gordon? Yeah, I wonder, too.
Things got ugly when Pistons coach John Kuester removed the Pistons’ regulars late in the fourth quarter of last night’s 105-93 loss to the lowly Pacers. From Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
And when Prince came to the bench, that’s when he yelled at Kuester, who gave it back momentarily before going back to the huddle to give instructions to the backups.
When asked after the game what transpired, Prince said: “Nah, don’t ask me that question, because if I speak on it y’all ain’t going to do nothing but change my words up so I ain’t even going to answer that.”
When a reporter tried to ask a follow-up, Prince snapped: “Did you just hear what I said?”
When another reporter asked if he and Kuester would get past the disagreement, Prince said: “Of course.”
And he walked away.
As for Kuester, he spoke for less than a minute and never took a question about Prince and left quickly.
In itself, this isn’t necessarily a big deal. Players and coaches get caught in the heat of the moment all the time. It’s not necessarily a sign of a bigger problem. But last night’s incident reminded me of something else Prince said.
A strange answer
Before the season, Prince talked to the media about the challenge of playing for his third coach in three years. Then a follow-up question – For Kuester to stick here, what advice would you give him? – caused him to take a snippy tone.
“What advice for me to give him to stick here?” Prince said. “I mean, that’s not – my advice doesn’t matter. I don’t make the decision for John Kuester to be the coach or for John Kuester, for his success to be here, that’s not a decision I have to make.”
Prince’s response struck me as odd at the time. But I didn’t report it because I had no idea what his answer meant, and I still don’t
- Did he just think it was a dumb question?
- Wary of the Piston players’ reputation for running off coaches, did Prince not want to be seen as meddling?
- This was the near the end of his interview, so did he just grow tired of answering questions?
- Did Prince have a problem with Kuester and not want to offer any advice to an adversary?
All four possibilities, and more, certainly crossed my mind. It was just strange. Prince had been pretty mellow during the interview session. Why did this question change his mood?
The Prince-Kuester relationship
Kuester has repeatedly called Prince one of the team’s leaders. It’s not as easy to find Prince quotes about Kuester.
I think one reason is that, with all the time he’s missed due to injury, Prince just hasn’t talked with the media often. And maybe there are dozens of instances of Prince praising Kuester that haven’t been reported.
Here’s the only general Prince quote about Kuester I could verify. It’s from a preseason interview with Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
KL: I know you have some history with John Kuester as an assistant coach here when you won it in 2004. What’s your sense of what type of coach he’s going to be?
TP: He was here during the Larry Brown era and the way Larry did things, the assistant coaches around him did things in a similar fashion. I would kind of expect him to be similar in that kind of situation. But he’s also been under different guys. With Mike Brown last year, he gave him the opportunity to carry more of the load, especially offensively. I think he’ll incorporate a lot of different things he’s done with all the different coaches he’s been with, he’ll bring that to this team.
Translation: Kuester has been an assistant coach. He will be a head coach this year. He will coach with the knowledge that he knows.
Langlois practically begged Prince to praise Kuester, and the small forward didn’t bite. He didn’t say anything negative, but a question like that usually garners more of a positive response.
The search for a second quote from Prince on Kuester gets mysterious.
NewsBank, a newspaper database, turns up an August article by Terry Foster of The Detroit News. It ends with this quote:
"John is a heck of a coach and he will have his defensive system," Prince told pistons.com. "But he is going to get us up and down the court."
"I know every year we talk about getting up and down and making quicker passes. … I think the guys we have offensively can do that."
OK, that seems pretty positive. So, I found a linkable version of that story. But this version ends six paragraphs before the NewsBank story. Not a huge deal. There must’ve been a mix up when it was posted online. (I’m pretty sure the NewsBank articles are based on what runs in print.)
Still, I want to find the quote on Pistons.com to verify it and see the context. This video is the closest thing I could find:
If you listen to Prince at the end, he says similar things about the Pistons running more. But the quote’s actual words don’t match the Foster article. What Foster wrote is what you might get if you were transcribing the video in the middle of a concert.
Most relevant, Prince never says anything like, “John is a heck of a coach.”
Maybe this has nothing to do with Kuester at all.
This certainly can’t be an easy time for Prince.
- He’s missed most of the season with injuries, which must be especially bothersome for a guy who had played in 496 straight games.
- The Pistons just drafted three players who share his position.
- One of those rookies, Jonas Jerebko, has played well enough that some want to see Prince come off the bench now.
Add an ugly loss to a bad team at home, and well, why should he be in a good mood? Maybe Prince just lost his cool momentarily. After all, he said he and Kuester would definitely get past this.
At this point, evidence of a Kuester-Prince feud is all circumstantial. But it’s more solid than the evidence that they get along.
Date: Jan. 22, 2010
Time: 8 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Detroit
Las Vegas projection
Spread: Detroit -3.5
Score: Detroit wins, 101-98
Detroit offensive rating: 103.4 (24th)
Detroit defensive rating: 108.7 (21st)
Detroit pace: 88.7 (29th)
Indiana offensive rating: 101.2 (27th)
Indiana defensive rating: 106.8 (16th)
Indiana pace: 97.7 (2nd)
Score: Tie, 98-98
- Doesn’t this just feel like a win? I know I probably jinxed it, but Detroit is at home, has won 4-of-5 and is favored for the first time since a Jan. 9 game against the 76ers.
- The Pistons are league’s second-slowest team, and Indiana is second-fastest. This game will be a good gauge of whether the Pistons are truly committed to running more.
- I’m excited to watch Jonas Jerebko cover Danny Granger. It will be a good test for the rookie, but not impossible — like when he had to guard Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
- If you missed it earlier, my mid-season grades are up.
- Check out today’s trade idea. It’s with the Pacers, so you can do some scouting tonight.
- I won’t be around, but head to Daily Dime Live to chat during the game.
Friday Trade Idea: Getting out Richard Hamilton’s and Jason Maxiell’s long-term contracts and getting immediate help
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a proposal in the comments).
- Troy Murphy (14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.8 steals)
- T.J. Ford (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals)
- Richard Hamilton (18.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals)
- Jason Maxiell (5.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.5 steals)
Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds and I spent a lot of time yesterday talking about a potential trade. The Pistons and Pacers have a lot of moving pieces, and we came up with a bunch of deals that both teams would have to consider. You could certainly come up with variations of this deal that include Kwame Brown, Mike Wilcox, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster and maybe even Roy Hibbert. But I think this is the most logical.
The Pacers get the best player in the trade, give up no players younger than 26, get cap relief this year and next year ($2,922,610 this year and $2,818,253 next year). That’s the type of deal that most teams make in a heartbeat.
But this is a little more complicated. The Pacers would be on the hook to pay Hamilton and Maxiell $17,650,000 the following two years, while the Pistons would owe Murphy and Ford nothing.
This would be a franchise-altering move for the Pistons. They’re at a crossroads. They can continue with their current core and hope to make the playoffs, or they can trade for the future.
This deal actually could do both, although I think it would lean toward the latter.
Murphy is actually a solid player and could help Detroit the next two years. He might be a little redundant with Charlie Villanueva, but Hamilton is similar to Ben Gordon. I’d rather have an overloaded front line than too many guards.
Ford has fallen out of favor with the Pacers, but I think he could have a role off the Pistons bench. As a true point guard, Ford would allow Rodney Stuckey to play more shooting guard, where he excels right now. And Ford, generously listed at 6-foot, seems to play better when his minutes are limited.
Of all the deals Jared and I discussed, I think this one exists in the small window where the Pistons would have room under the luxury tax to re-sign Will Bynum and Ben Wallace in the offseason and the Pacers get some cap relief.
Assuming the Pistons exercise their $2,767,126 option on Rodney Stuckey (a given) and Chris Wilcox picks up his $3 million option (a likelihood), Detroit will have about $55 million in committed salaries.
The luxury-tax line is projected to be $61.2 million next season. So, this would make it close. But I doubt it would be too hard to trade Chris Wilcox’s expiring contract to clear a little more room if necessary (like the Pistons did this summer with Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson).
The Pistons would go into next season with the expiring contracts of Murphy, Ford, Tayshaun Prince, Wilcox and Stuckey. All of a sudden, Detroit would have a lot of room to maneuver and, I think, a solid team.
For each trade, I will seek the analysis of the other team’s TrueHoop Network blogger.
Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds:
“It’s certainly something Larry Bird would have to consider. The Pacers backcourt is an absolute joke and Rip would not only be able to score immediately in Jim O’Brien’s jumpshot-happy offense, but he would be a welcome sight to many Indy fans who long for the days of Reggie Miller. Rip would immediately be in the top three or four offensive threats on the team and that’s with the realization that he has been decidedly below average this year.
Maxiell, too, brings some toughness and athleticism in the paint – both of which the Pacers lack. Then again, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster already do a lot of the same stuff that Jason does and at least Tyler will probably be here for the next three seasons at a minimum.
Neither T.J., who has totally fallen out of the rotation and has reportedly been on the trade block for a loooong time, nor Troy are a part of Larry Bird’s long-term plan, so giving these guys up shouldn’t be any major holdup.
But I don’t see Indy wanting to do this.
It would be essentially committing to a core of Granger, Rip, Hibbert, this year’s #1 pick, Maxiell and Hansbrough over the next four years since taking on the $17.5 million of those two guys wouldn’t leave a ton of cap flexibility. After you fill out the rotation with $1-$4 million players, the most they would have is MLE-level money to acquire anyone "marquee." And while that lineup isn’t terrible — presuming, ya know, Rip learns how to shoot again soon — it’s not any better than a 5 or 6 seed. And that’s also assuming that Hibbert develops into a borderline Rik Smits-level offensive talent, which is definitely possible but far from certain.
Mediocrity would be a vast improvement for the Pacers right now, don’t get me wrong, but there would be no real hope of exceeding mediocrity. Indiana would be essentially where Detroit is now and not even have a "cross our fingers and hope Stuckey becomes Dwyane Wade Lite" hope for a future. That team would have a clear ceiling and it would probably be the second round of the playoffs.
Around the Hoosier state, that seems to be something management is almost cool with these days, but I doubt they would commit to Rip, given his relative post-Billups era fall from grace, both as a scorer and as good chemistry guy.
I think Hamilton’s shooting will pick up again. His leg strength wasn’t immediately there after his injury. But he’s clearly improving since his return.
Maybe I’m higher Roy Hibbert than Jared. I think he can be a star, and Granger already is. I think that’s a solid core. It might take getting lucky with the first-round pick, but not many title teams are built without a few lucky breaks.
I think one mistake many teams make is waiting for the dynamite move that will vault them into a championship contender. A good first step is becoming good. I think building a winning culture goes a long way. You don’t want to bring a bunch of young talent into dysfunction.
I admit this might leave the Pacers with too little flexibility, but they would be improved.
I think the Pistons would do the deal if they were confident they could shed a couple million in salary if its necessary to have room to re-sign Bynum and Wallace. From the outside, I think they can, so I think they’d do it.
For the Pacers, I’ll leave it to Jared:
“If I was GM of the Indiana Pacers: Pass
What I think Larry Bird would do: Pass”
I realize I’m still one trade idea behind. I plan to post it Sunday night or Monday morning, and I’m still planning on posting another for next Friday.
Thanks to all of you who e-mailed trades. Sorry, if I haven’t responded yet. I will, but I wanted to talk to the other team’s TrueHoop bloggers about some of them first. Keep the ideas coming.
- Grades are based on how much each person has contributed to the Pistons this season. So, injuries will lower a player’s grade.
- Grades are curved toward expected roles. For example, if a starter and bench player perform equally, the bench player would get a higher grade.
- A ‘C’ is average.
- LeBron James
- Kobe Bryant
- Dwyane Wade
- Monta Ellis
- Brandon Roy
- Gilbert Arenas
- Joe Johnson
- Tyreke Evans
- Chris Paul
Rodney Stuckey: A-minus
The rest of these are in alphabetical order, but I moved Stuckey to the top. I original had him pegged at a ‘B,’ but looking closer, I don’t think we’ve appreciated his season enough.
Although his defense was better earlier in the season, it’s been solid overall and might be the area he’s improved the most.
Stuckey is averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Just nine other players are averaging at least 18, 4 and 4:
Few would argue each of those nine are among the NBA’s top players. And the way Stuckey has played this year, he deserves a lot of credit.
I’m not quite ready to include among the league’s elite, though. He barely meets the targets, when most of the others crush them. His field-goal and free-throw percentages are easily worst on the list, too.
But here’s the best part – Stuckey is the second-youngest player on the list. (Stuckey is 23, and Tyreke Evans is 20).
I think Stuckey is growing up right before our eyes. He hasn’t reached the next level yet – but he’s getting close.
Chucky Atkins: B
He was supposed to help in practice and maybe dress for the occasional game. Instead, he’s been pretty reliable as the Pistons’ only true point guard. When Atkins is on the court, Rodney Stuckey plays his best — a real asset to this team.
Kwame Brown: D-minus
What happened to the talk of Brown starting? He was a solid inside defender and rebounder last season, and that’s a role the Pistons definitely need filled when Ben Wallace goes to the bench. Now, he’s just piling up DNP-CDs.
Will Bynum: C
His efficiency numbers are down, but he’s playing more minutes. So, that should be expected. He looks like a better all-around player this season, but I’m not sure if he’s played enough to know for certain. He would have received a higher grade if he hadn’t missed 14 games.
Austin Daye: C
He’s basically been what was expected: bursts of talent mixed with inconsistency, brilliant shooting and defensive lapses, decent ball handling and weakness going for rebounds.
Ben Gordon: C
His field-goal, 3-point and free-throw shooting percentages are down, and he’s missed 16 games. But he’s still better than most sixth men. It’d be nice if he finally gets in a groove in the second half.
Richard Hamilton: D-minus
This might be a little generous because Hamilton has played in just 14 games and probably deserves an ‘F’ just because of that. But he was really good in his only game prior to injury (25 points against the Grizzlies in the season opener). And now that he’s getting back in shape, his movement away from the ball has done wonders for the offense.
Jonas Jerebko: A
What a pleasant surprise. Jerebko has become a fan favorite with his rebounding and defense. Besides DeJuan Blair, he’s probably the best second-round pick of the last draft.
Jason Maxiell: D
His production and, not coincidentally, his minutes have been dropping the last few seasons. He just doesn’t look as hungry on the court.
Tayshaun Prince: F
He’s barely played, and when he has, he hasn’t been productive. It’s a limited sample size, so this grade is undoubtedly lower than a player of Prince’s caliber would typically receive. But like I said above, injuries will lower a player’s grade.
DaJuan Summers: C-minus
There were decent hopes for Summers after his strong summer league play. But even Austin Daye, who was expected to be a multi-year project, is playing ahead of him.
Charlie Villanueva: C-minus
It’s been a frustrating first half for Villanueva. He’s battled injury and poor play. He hasn’t become a fixture in the starting lineup, like many were hoping. He’s shown enough glimpses to be effective, but he could be more consistent. It would be nice to see him defend, even when his shot isn’t falling.
Ben Wallace: A-plus
Ben Wallace is Detroit basketball this year. He’s one of just four players to lead his team in offensive and defensive rating (minimum eight games):
- LeBron James, Cavaliers
- Troy Murphy, Warriors
- Marcus Camby, Clippers
I think Wallace is actually playing better than he did his last year in Detroit. He had slipped a little bit then. But now, he almost looks like Big Ben in his prime. Almost.
He wasn’t supposed to be anything more than frontcourt depth. But he’s the team MVP, easily.
Chris Wilcox: C-minus
He’s scored double digits just four times and grabbed at least seven rebounds just twice this season (one game overlaps). By comparison he reached those marks 18 and 15 times last season (nine overlapped).
I knew he’d be boom or bust. It’d be naive to expect differently. I just thought there’d be a few more booms.
John Kuester: B-plus
With all the injuries, it certainly hasn’t been an easy year to coach. This is a flawed team, anyway. Chucky Atkins is the best pure point guard, and the only trustworthy center is 35.
But the Pistons play hard, and that’s a credit to Kuester. He hasn’t been shy about tweaking the lineup to find the right fit. The younger players have seen the court and improved, too.
Still, he’s made enough curios moves (can’t Kwame Brown get a chance?) to not warrant a higher grade.
For a first-time NBA head coach with a team facing much more uncertainty than he ever expected, Kuester is doing a heck of a job. Consider this the Michael Curry curve.
This has been a pretty disappointing season. Detroit was never going to contend for a title this year. Rather the goal was to make the playoffs.
And as the Pistons are learning, when you’re that fragile, injuries matter – a lot. They haven’t had a chance to show what they can be, and they might never.
The first half of the season was a disaster, and it probably means Detroit will miss the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons. But that’s hardly a given.
There’s still plenty of hope and intrigue left in these final 41 games.
It’s fitting the Pistons played the Celtics last night because the game renewed my faith in this team. Anything is possible.
Detroit is 1-0 to begin their six-game home stand and beat its best opponent in the stretch.
The Pistons sit just 3.5 games back in the playoff race. How they played last night – with hustle and defense, a resilient offense and swagger – the Pistons could reach the top eight in the Eastern Conference pretty quickly.
I know I’m probably getting ahead of myself. The Celtics are the type of team that can have letdown games. And the Pistons desperately need more inside scoring (the starting front line combined for 10 points last night).
But I’d rather believe Detroit is hitting its stride. I don’t know if that’s the case. But I do know this:
Despite misleading headlines in The Detroit News – Karen Davidson: Pistons are for sale – the Pistons aren’t for sale yet.
Davidson’s actual statement via Chris Iott of MLive.com:
"We’re looking into the possibility of inquiring about selling it, but there’s nothing that’s definite," she told media members during halftime of the game between the Pistons and Boston Celtics. "We’re just looking into it.
I know it’s splitting hairs, but I think the distinction is important.
The Detroit Free Press has more interesting Karen Davidson quotes and dug up this gem from Bill Davidson’s 2008 interview with Mitch Albom:
Question: Have you thought about or made plans for the Pistons after you’re gone?
Answer: Yes. We’ll keep it in the family. It will always be in the family.
Q: And is it your hope your relatives will run it?
A: I’ve already set up the method in which it’s gonna be run.
Q: By your family members?
Date: Jan. 20, 2010
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Detroit
Las Vegas projection
Spread: Detroit +6
Score: Boston wins, 97-91
Detroit offensive rating: 103.6 (24th)
Detroit defensive rating: 109.1 (21st)
Detroit pace: 88.5 (29th)
Boston offensive rating: 108.7 (10th)
Boston defensive rating: 101.7 (3rd)
Boston pace: 91.7 (21st)
Score: Boston wins, 98-92
- Rasheed Wallace returns to The Palace tonight, and I hope he gets a loud ovation. He wasn’t perfect here, but Chauncey Billups wasn’t either – and there was no doubt he’d be cheered.
- Jamie Samuelson and Rob Otto chime in on Wallace’s legacy.
- Richard Hamilton will play tonight, according to Chris Iott of MLive.com. Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum are out. Chris Wilcox is questionable.
- The Pistons begin a six-game home stand tonight, and this is a great opportunity to make up ground in the playoff race.
- I won’t be around, but check out Daily Dime Live to chat during the game.