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Archive → February, 2010

Game Review: Ben Wallace needs to accept responsibility

I love what Ben Wallace brings to the Pistons. If he wasn’t on this team, it would be the Nets.

And I’m OK with him being a subpar free-throw shooter. It’s not fair to ask him to excel at everything.

But he should be better than he is. It’s a mental block, and if he wasn’t too stubborn to admit it, he might have a chance to improve from the line. He’ll never be a great free-throw shooter, but he could make 50-to-60 percent.

The Spurs went to hack-a-Ben earlier in the week, and he didn’t take it well. From Chris Iott of MLive:

Wallace threw his headband to the floor as he made his way to the bench.
"It’s garbage," Wallace said when asked about the strategy.

Wallace was asked how he felt about Kuester showing confidence by leaving him in so long while the Spurs employed the strategy.

"That’s garbage, too," Wallace said, then quickly ended the interview.

That’s unacceptable.

Wallace needs to take responsibility for his shortcomings. I’m going to sleep, but when I wake up, I hope I read about Wallace taking a different tone after tonight’s game.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Golden State Warriors

Essentials

Date: Feb. 27, 2010

Time: 10:30 p.m.

Television: None

Records

Detroit: 21-37

Golden State: 16-41

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C
Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

Golden State:

PG SG SF PF C
Stephen
Curry
Monta
Ellis
Devean
George
Ronny
Turiaf
Andris
Biedrins

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +4

Over/under: 208.5

Score: Golden State wins, 106-102

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 104.0 (25th)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.9 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

Golden State offensive rating: 106.5 (16th)

Golden State defensive rating: 110.1 (26th)

Golden State pace: 100.4 (1st)

Score: Golden State wins, 102-101

Outlook

  • Patrick Hayes of Full-Court Press has a nice review of last night’s game. I definitely agree with his opening point.
  • Pistons Nation also has thoughts on playing the Nuggets that are definitely worth a read.
  • Big game tonight for Ted Kulfan.
  • When’s the last time the Warriors were favored?

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets

Essentials

Date: Feb. 26, 2010

Time: 9 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 21-36

Denver: 38-19

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C
Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

Denver:

PG SG SF PF C
Chauncey
Billups
Arron
Afflalo
Carmelo
Anthony
Kenyon
Martin
Nene

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +9.5

Over/under: 203.5

Score: Denver wins, 107-97

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 104.0 (25th)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.8 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.3 (29th)

Denver offensive rating: 112.4 (2nd)

Denver defensive rating: 107.2 (16th)

Denver pace: 95.2 (5th)

Score: Denver wins, 101-97

Outlook

  • The Pistons have won seven straight against Denver. It’s tough to see that streaking continuing tonight.
  • Check out Daily Dime Live during tonight’s game.

Game Review: I hope Richard Hamilton continues emulating Joe Dumars’ path

Traditional box scoreAdvanced box scoreGameFlow

Richard Hamilton missed his first free throw of last night’s 97-91 loss to the Clippers. So, although Hamilton boasts the longest free throw-made streak of any NBA player this season, Joe Dumars’ team record is safe.

But I hope he matches Dumars in another way.

I hope Hamilton retires a Piston. (Have I mentioned that lately?)

Dumars played five seasons in Detroit after every other Bad Boy had left the team. He never seemed to completely fit with guys like Grant Hill, Otis Thorpe and Terry Mills. But I was just glad he was still playing for my favorite team

Dumars was a true professional and knew how to win. His influence never off paid quite like I hoped, and those teams never advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But I think they would’ve been more lost without Dumars.

So, back to Hamilton. He’s stuck on a team that traded his best friend, almost completely changed his supporting cast and can’t hold a candle to its predecessor just two years earlier.

But he still knows how to win.

Until the final 4:30 minutes of the fourth quarter, Hamilton had been having a so-so game. Then, he hit a 3-pointer to tie it. And on Detroit’s next possession, he hit one from the same spot. Three minutes later, he gave the Pistons the lead with yet another 3-pointer.

Then, with Detroit down by four with seven seconds left, Hamilton drew a foul on a long 3-pointer – and he nearly made that. But it rattled in-and-out, and Hamilton missed all three free throws, essentially ending the game.

From threatening a free-throw record to making just 2-of-8 from the line last night. I’m not sure Hamilton knows what hit him.

Just like this season.

More solid games from the old guard

Hamilton finished 21 points.

Tayshaun Prince had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists a block and a steal. His block with 14 seconds left reminded me of some other play he made once.

And Jason Maxiell had 14 points (7-of-9 shooting) and eight rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.

If only a few of the new guys would offer more help…

How will Ben Gordon improve shooting woes?

Not to make excuses, but the the Pistons have four good guards. If Ben Gordon is struggling, they don’t have to play him. That has to frustrate Gordon, who doesn’t really have a chance to work his way out of this slump.

He was 0-for-4 last night, and he played just 19 minutes. From the Pistons’ standpoint as far as their chances of winning this game, 19 minutes make sense.

For Gordon – and the team’s long-term investment in him – it doesn’t.

I don’t want to force-feed him minutes he doesn’t deserve, but this isn’t healthy for the franchise’s long-term outlook.

Charlie Villanueva carving out role

In the last two games, the Pistons’ bench has been pretty active in cheering for the players on the court. In particular, Charlie Villanueva has looked enthusiastic.

I wish he was doing more on the court. But I guess I’m glad he’s not sulking.

Further reading

Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog has an interesting recap that includes this nugget:

The Pistons actually shoot better from 16-23 feet (53.4 effective field goal percentage) than they do at the rim (42.9 effective field goal percentage)!

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Clippers

Essentials

Date: Feb. 23, 2010

Time: 10:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 21-35

Los Angeles: 23-33

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C
Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

Los Angeles:

PG SG SF PF C
Baron
Davis
Eric
Gordon
Rasual
Butler
Craig
Smith
Chris
Kaman

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +4

Over/under: 189.5

Score: Los Angeles wins, 97-93

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.9 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.7 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

Los Angeles offensive rating: 103.3 (26th)

Los Angeles defensive rating: 108.2 (19th)

Los Angeles pace: 92.2 (19th)

Score: Tuie, 96-96

Outlook

  • The Pistons have won 6-of-10. But don’t get too worked up about that. Only two of their opponents (Spurs and Magic) had winning records, and their opponents’ combined winning percentage (.359) is worse than the Wizards’.
  • If you don’t want to take my advice and want to get worked up about it: the Pistons are just 6.5 games out of the playoffs.
  • Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton have been awesome lately.
  • Hamilton has made 51 straight free throws – 11 shy of Joe Dumars’ team record. Micheal Williams, whom the Pistons drafted, holds the NBA record with 97 straight makes in 1993.
  • Russ Bengston of Slam tells an amazing story about how Chris Kaman and Juwan Howard met (hat tip: Jeff Pearlman):

The shots weren’t falling, the first half was going to hell, and the tall, weird-looking blond kid in the third row just wouldn’t shut up.

“Yo Webber, you SUCK! Hey Jalen, why are your shorts so big? Nice haircut, Juwan! And you…I don’t even know who you are! How does it feel being NOBODY!!?? Duke is kicking your ass!”

During the next time out, Webber motioned to Jalen. “Yo, what’s up with that kid?” “No idea,” Rose said, tugging on his shorts. “How old you think he is? Twelve?”

Somehow, the kid heard. “I’m NINE! And my daddy drove me all the way from Grand Rapids to watch you guys play, not listen to you talk. Aren’t you supposed to be the ‘Fab Five’? Why don’t you try and win or something?”

Try they did, forcing overtime, but in the end, the Blue Devils proved too much. And as the Wolverines trudged off, the kid—who had never shut up—drew himself to his full height and let loose one final salvo: “HEY LOSERS! MY NAME IS CHRISTOPHER ZANE KAMAN, AND YOU’D BETTER REMEMBER ME!”

Howard stopped and turned, looked him straight in the eye. For the first time all night, the kid seemed to shrink back. “Yeah, I’ll remember you,” Howard said. “You can count on that.”

  • I’m hoping to chat in Daily Dime Live during the second half of tonight’s game.

Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are proving Joe Dumars made the right decision with Chauncey Billups

It’s become widely accepted: trading Chauncey Billups was a mistake. Joe Dumars should’ve traded one of Detroit’s other core players. They’re useless at best, in the way of rebuilding at worst.

But Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are playing like they’re on a mission to disprove those beliefs.

Hamilton has seemed genuinely happy to be with the Pistons since they fired Michael Curry. I questioned whether Prince was playing hard just to get a trade, but he has continued to play well since the deadline.

Both their numbers have been stellar the last four games.

  • Hamilton: 30.5 points per game on 54.5-percent shooting.
  • Prince: 15.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.

They might even be proving Dumars made the right call by keeping them around instead of Billups.

Before we go further, I want make clear that I’m not dealing with Dumars’ execution with the Billups trade and the subsequent cap space it created. I’m just talking about his decision to trade Billups instead of one of Detroit’s other core players.

The season before the trade, the Pistons lost in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight year. It seemed like a bit of a stretch they even made it that far again. The team was getting older, complacent and disinterested.

By this point, the Pistons had four key players: Billups, Hamilton, Prince and Rasheed Wallace. It made sense to break up that core, at minimum, to create a spark.

Let’s look at each of them to see why Billups was the one to go.

Rasheed Wallace

With his reputation and hard-headedness, Rasheed Wallace is virtually untradeable – at least for any real value. That’s why the Pistons got him so cheaply, and it’s why they had to hang onto him last year.

I have to believe Dumars thought Wallace would continue to decline. But what’s the point of trading him for pennies on the dollar? You trade for a Rasheed Wallace. You don’t trade a Rasheed Wallace.

So, the Pistons were stuck. They couldn’t trade him to improve their team. And if they kept him, he would likely struggle.

Stuck in that conundrum, I think the best option was to hold onto him and pray for the best. If a miracle happened and a light clicked in his head, you had an excellent player.

And if it didn’t, you ccould let him walk in the summer – which ended up happening.

Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton

Of the core group, Prince and Hamilton are the youngest. So, there’s a simple reason it made sense to keep them.

It’s easy to point to their production since Billups was traded and say they weren’t worth keeping around. But they’ve been faced with a slew of challenges:

  • They played all of last year under Michael Curry, a failure as a head coach.
  • They spent last year with a point guard, who was not only in his first season as a starter, is still working to be more than a shooting guard who brings the ball up the court.
  • Last year, they shared the court with Allen Iverson, who completely disrupted the team’s chemistry.
  • And they’ve been hampered with injuries this year.

So, I don’t think we’ve had a great look at Hamilton and Prince post-Billups. Yes, their last four games have been awesome. But I don’t think that’s a large enough sample size. So, I’m going to try to use a bigger sample, but still remove some of those mitigating factors.

So how have Prince and Hamilton done in:

  • The two games after Billups was traded but before Iverson arrived
  • The games last year after Richard Hamilton permanently returned to the starting lineup (excluding the final game of the season for Prince because he played just nine minutes in an effort to continue his streak of games played)
  • The first game this season, when both were healthy
  • The games since they returned from injury Dec. 27

Hamilton: 20.1 points, 5.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Prince: 14 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

Keep in mind that still includes games with Curry, Iverson, a young Stuckey and when they were getting acclimated after injuries. Those stats could improve.

Evidenced by the last four games, they are.

Chauncey Billups

That just leaves Billups.

Billups is two years older than Hamilton and four years older than Prince. His numbers had been dipping, and as a post-up player who thrive on getting to the free throw line, you had to wonder if his body was breaking down.

And, interestingly enough, he might have had the highest trade value on the Pistons. I have no idea what Detroit could’ve gotten for Hamilton or Prince, but the expiring contract of a high-end player is quite the get.

Allen Iverson averaged 22.8 points, 6.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game the season before the trade. Although there were signs his body was wearing down, too, there was a chance the Pistons were acquiring a heck of a player. And if they weren’t, they’d get a ton of cap space. Basically, Iverson represented two tries to make it work.

Another reason trading Billups made most sense: his replacement.

In Rodney Stuckey, the Pistons had a good, young alternative for Billups. What young player was going to replace Hamilton or Prince?

Don’t say Arron Afflalo. I wish the Pistons still had him, too. But he’s not nearly the player Stuckey is and likely won’t come close.

Afflalo’s PER this season is 11.3. His defensive rating (110) is ninth on the Nuggets. And J.R. Smith still plays more minutes per game than him.

And I’ve covered this many times, but the trade rejuvenated Billups. There was no way the Pistons would have had the same Billups Denver got.

Takeaway

If Hamilton and Prince continue to play well, especially if that’s due to Stuckey becoming a better point guard, you have to give Dumars more of a break on the Billups trade.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings

Essentials

Date: Feb. 23, 2010

Time: 10:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 20-35

Sacramento: 18-38

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C
Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

Sacramento:

PG SG SF PF C
Tyreke
Evans
Donte
Greene
Omri
Casspi
Carl
Landry
Jason
Thompson

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +2.5

Over/under: 196

Score: Sacramento wins, 99-97

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.7 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.8 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

Sacramento offensive rating: 105.7 (20th)

Sacramento defensive rating: 110.5 (28th)

Sacramento pace: 94.7 (6th)

Score: Tie, 98-98

Outlook

  • Detroit follows up its Sunday win against the Spurs with a West-coast road trip. This four-game stint includes games against three of the four worst teams in the West, beginning tonight against a struggling Sacramento squad.
  • The Kings are still working on getting acclimated to their current roster. Last week’s trade gave them 16 players and they’ve been battling recent injuries as well, which doesn’t help the team’s stability. Sacramento has put a different group of starters on the court in each of the last three games. None of those groupings have resulted in wins.
  • Dan’s still out of town, but if you’re lucky you might be able to catch him at Daily Dime Live. He might show up during the second half of tonight’s contest, but no guarantees.

Charting offensive and defensive rating for every NBA team

I have so new software that I hope will allow me to show data in better ways. This is my test run. A quick explanation of this chart:

  • The farther right a team is, the better its offensive rating.
  • The higher a team is, the better its defensive rating.
  • The axes represent the league average (106.8).
  • Teams in the top right quadrant are above average offensively and defensively.
  • Teams in the top left quadrant are above average defensively and below average offensively.
  • Teams in the bottom right quadrant are above average offensively and below average defensively.
  • Teams in the bottom left quadrant are below average offensively and defensively – and yes, this includes the Pistons.
  • You can also view the data by division. Just check below whichever division(s) you want to view.

Tuesday Trivia: Most-recent All-Stars

This week’s quiz is about each team’s most-recent All-Star.

My Score: 29/30

Tom Wilson to work for Ilitch?

Tom Wilson will become an employee of Ilitch Holdings, according to Channel 7 in Detroit:

Wilson will be responsible for heading up all the talks surrouding a new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings. The move is right up Wilson’s alley considering he was involved in the building of the Palace in Auburn Hills.
He will report directly to Mike Ilitch.

But the Associated Press is reporting an Ilitch Holdings spokesman denied the hire:

The company controlled by pizza mogul Mike Ilitch is denying it has hired Tom Wilson, who resigned last week as the Detroit Pistons’ president and chief executive officer.

Detroit’s WXYZ-TV reported Monday evening that Wilson was joining Ilitch Holdings Inc. A spokesman issued a statement afterward saying that while Wilson "would be a terrific additional to any organization," the company would not comment on his next possible career move.

Update

Ansar Khan of MLive paints a clearer picture:

Tom Pyden, vice president of corporate communications for Ilitch Holdings, said in a statement: “Clearly, Tom had a great career with the Pistons and the Palace. While we were competitors in the marketplace, we always admired Tom and his staff for their accomplishments on and off the court. Tom would be a terrific addition to any organization, but beyond that, we are not going to comment on speculation regarding Tom’s next possible career move.’’

So, Ilitch Holdings didn’t actually deny the report. Pyden just didn’t confirm it, and there’s a big difference. Khan reports a press conference will occur later today. This is happening.

Does it make Mike Ilitch more likely to buy the Pistons?