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Archive → March, 2010

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. Houston Rockets

Essentials

Date: March 7, 2010

Time: 6 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 21-41

Houston: 31-30

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C
   
Chucky
Atkins
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Jason
Maxiell

Houston:

PG SG SF PF C
Aaron
Brooks
Kevin
Martin
Shane
Battier
Luis
Scola
Chuck
Hayes

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +1.5

Over/under: 197.5

Score: Houston wins, 100-98

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.8 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.2 (20th)

Detroit pace: 88.8 (29th)

Houston offensive rating: 106.7 (14th)

Houston defensive rating: 106.7 (14th)

Houston pace: 93.7 (8th)

Score: Houston wins, 99-96

Outlook

  • I’ve always said if the roles were reversed and Will Bynum was a first-round pick and Rodney Stuckey had been undrafted, Bynum would be starting for this team. Tonight, we’ll probably get to see how Bynum plays with the starters.
  • Chuck Hayes must be looking forward to his matchup with Jason Maxiell, given it’s probably the only time he’s not drastically undersized.
  • Is Luis Scola still considered underrated? Either way, he’s very good.
  • Without Stuckey and Ben Wallace, I don’t think the Pistons have much of a shot.
  • UPDATE: Chucky Atkins will start at point guard, according to Chris Iott of MLive. I suspect Bynum will get more minutes than him, though.

On Rodney Stuckey

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

Basketball is supposed to be confusing. Isn’t that why we watch?

I was having quite the time trying to figure out why the Pistons were pounding the Cavaliers last night. That led to sub-questions like, why aren’t Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince missing any jumpers? There was plenty happening to capture our attention.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

We’re not supposed to wonder why Rodney Stuckey was clutching Arnie Kander’s arm, whether Stuckey would be OK, whether his career would be finished. Or worse.

My mind raced – to Len Bias and drugs, to Lyle Alzado and steroids, to Hank Gathers and heart conditions.

I was at a game when Francisco Elson fainted. He was clearly woozy and walking toward the bench when his knees buckled. A couple teammates grabbed him. It was scary.

This looked much worse.

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

I always hated how buddy-buddy players are after the game. Sometimes, it seems like they shake hands with the other team while the final shot is still in the air. Where’s the competition? Where’s the hate?

But last night, this seemed appropriate. More than that, it was great.

I have a lot of respect for the Cavaliers, who all stayed for a post-game prayer on the court. Stuckey is part of the NBA family. But he has another family, too.

(The Seattle Times)

As he was being carted off the court, I thought about Rodney Stuckey the person – how little we know about him.

He’s not outspoken enough that we know a lot about his personality. But he’s not shy enough I’d consider that one of his traits, either. He’s just there.

I know he couldn’t go to a bigger school like Washington because of academics. But I know he got pretty good grades at Eastern Washington.

Yesterday, I learned he liked to read HoopsHype and RealGM. I like those sites, too. So, I guess that made me feel a little more connect to him.

But he’s still so distant.

When the Pistons drafted Stuckey, the media immediately began hyping him. He was almost as fast as Mike Conley, but a lot bigger. By the end of the summer league, word was if the draft was re-done, Stuckey would’ve gone a lot higher. He would be a star.

He was stuck behind Chauncey Billups, which would be good for him. He could learn from one of the league’s premier points guard. Best of all, like Stuckey, Billups seemed more like an off-guard in a point guard’s body when first joined the league.

Stuckey looked good as rookie. After a few more years behind Billups, he would take over in a seamless transition.

Then, all of a sudden, Billups was in Denver. Stuckey was Detroit’s starting point guard. The future was now.

Stuckey did OK, but the Pistons struggled. Some were discouraged by progress, but others, including myself, were happy with how he played last year.

He was only 22. He didn’t have to be a star yet. It would come in due time.

Like last season, this was supposed to be Stuckey’s year.

He wouldn’t be burdened by Michael Curry and Allen Iverson anymore. He knew the starting job was his all off-season.

Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were supposed to take pressure off him, too. Instead, they’ve added a ton. They’ve struggled in Detroit, and with the Pistons’ many injury problems, Stuckey has been called on to shoulder the load this season.

Until tomorrow, he’ll be the only Piston to play every game this year. His raw numbers are impressive. His percentages are not.

Simply, he’s been asked to do too much.

Now, expectations are gone. If they’re not, they should be. The focus should be on Rodney Stuckey living – not how well he does on a basketball court.

(Patricia Beck/Detroit Free Press)

That said, if Stuckey returns to basketball – and given he’s already out of the hospital, I think he will – this could be great for him. He’s been challenged, and that hasn’t really happened before.

Until last night, nothing worried me more about Stuckey’s career than that. Not his lack of true point-guard skills. Not his shaky jumper.

He was a high draft pick. He played as a rookie. He was a sacred cow. He was handed a starting job.

Think back to the title-winning Pistons in 2004. That team won because everyone was overlooked at one point. It played with a chip on its shoulder.

How could Stuckey ever do that? I’m not saying he doesn’t work hard, but he’s been handed so much more than those guys on the 2004 team.

But now – a setback.

It could be more powerful than four teams giving up on Chauncey Billups before really giving him a chance, Michael Jordan tormenting Richard Hamilton in Washington, 22 teams passing on Tayshaun Prince in the draft, every team passing on Ben Wallace and anyone who’s ever seen a basketball game labeling Rasheed Wallace a cancer.

This could be the forces of nature telling Stuckey he’s not supposed to be one of the elite basketball players on the planet. If he overcomes that…

(Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press)

… I’ll be smiling that big, too.

And if he can’t come back from this, if something is seriously wrong – then I hope he finds a way to keep that grin.

Rodney Stuckey released from Cleveland Clinic

From a team release:

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey was released from the Cleveland Clinic this afternoon and will be returning to Detroit today. All medical tests completed at the Cleveland Clinic returned normal.

Stuckey will undergo further tests upon returning to Detroit and will be treated accordingly.

Great news.

Rodney Stuckey has history of light-headedness

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

UPDATE: Heather Cox reports Stuckey conscious and his vital signs are stable. This is great news, and a lot of the fears I had about the situation just subsided.

From a Nov. 13, 2008 Detroit Free Press article:

SAN FRANCISCO – Wearing a black hat and hoodie, Rodney Stuckey leaned against the wall watching the Pistons go over preparations for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

He was the picture of health, and you wouldn’t have known that three days before he suffered a sudden dizzy spell that he described as scary.

But after tests, he was cleared by doctors to resume playing, and he plans to return to the court against the Los Angles Lakers on Friday.

But the memory of his problems against the Celtics on Sunday – when he left the game at halftime complaining of dizziness and light-headedness – was fresh in his mind.

“It’s something that just happened – a freak accident, ” Stuckey said. “Anytime something happens like that it’s scary, but we took precautions about this situation and we found out everything came back good news.”

Stuckey scored four points in the Pistons’ 88-76 loss to the Celtics. He finished the first half, then sat slumped in a seat in a hallway as he received treatment from doctors before heading to the locker room.

He didn’t return to the bench.

He remained in Detroit for tests while the team headed West for its four-game, six-day trip. He arrived along with team president Joe Dumars at the Sports Club/LA on Wednesday midway through practice.

He wants to get comfortable and get his legs back, so that’s why he will participate in this morning’s shootaround and not jump right back in the mix with back-to-back games.

Rodney Stuckey may have had seizure in Pistons-Cavaliers game

Stuckey came to the bench for a timeout in the third quarter and appeared to be fine. But he later clutched Arnie Kander while slipping off his chair on the bench. ESPN sideline report Heather Cox said he appeared to be unconscious.

He’s been taken to the hospital. Cox said his eyes were closed on the stretch as he was being lifted into the ambulance.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers

Essentials

Date: March 5, 2010

Time: 7 p.m.

Television: ESPN

Records

Detroit: 21-39

Cleveland: 48-14

Probable starters

Detroit:

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

Cleveland:

PG SG SF PF C
Mo
Williams
Anthony
Parker
LeBron
James
Antawn
Jamison
J.J.
Hickson

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +12

Over/under: 201.5

Score: Cleveland wins, 107-95

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.9 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.1 (21st)

Detroit pace: 88.8 (29th)

Cleveland offensive rating: 111.9 (2nd)

Cleveland defensive rating: 103.8 (7th)

Cleveland pace: 91.1 (25th)

Score: Cleveland wins, 99-94

Outlook

Pain.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks

Essentials

Date: March 3, 2010

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 21-39

New York: 20-39

Probable starters

Detroit:

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

New York:

PG SG SF PF C
Sergio
Rodriguez
Tracy
McGrady
Danilo
Gallinari
Al
Harrington
David
Lee

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +4

Over/under: 205

Score: New York wins, 105-101

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.8 (26th)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.7 (20th)

Detroit pace: 88.7 (29th)

New York offensive rating: 106.1 (18th)

New York defensive rating: 109.9 (25th)

New York pace: 94.1 (7th)

Score: New York wins, 98-97

Outlook

Though they stayed in the game with the Celtics in last night’s 105-100 loss, the Pistons have now lost four straight. Again. Detroit won’t make the playoffs. New York won’t either. You probably don’t want to watch this game alone, so head over to Daily Dime Live tonight for at least some form of guaranteed entertainment. (Did we mention how awesome it is?)

This shoe drama is getting Hypersized

First, Sole Collector has picture evidence Charlie Villanueva is still wearing a Nike Hypersize shoe:

The Pistons didn’t play at the Clippers until after Arnie Kander banned the shoe. So, something is up.

Now, Kevin Durant – who’s sponsored by Nike – defended the shoe in an interview with Chris Sesno of FanHouse.

"Ankle injuries can come from stepping on a guy’s foot or coming down on somebody. Rarely does it happen when you’re just running around on the court," said Durant. "And sometimes it doesn’t matter what shoe you have on, so I don’t think that’s the issue. It just happens when you’re playing."

Yes, some ankle injuries are unavoidable regardless of shoe. But the circumstantial evidence says this shoe makes them more likely.

Pistons’ most underrated shooters, by secondary percentage

John Hollinger had a cool column today about the league’s most underrated shooters, as defined by secondary percentage. I’ll let Hollinger explain the stat:

Chauncey Billups shoots 43.9 percent, and yet he’s one of the most valuable offensive players in the league. That’s a fact. But I’ve had an unusual difficulty explaining it to people concisely. Yes, he has a great True Shooting Percentage, but that’s not quite the entire answer. Lots of players have great TS percentages, and Billups is pretty much the only one to do so while shooting such a low percentage from the floor.

I tend to say that "He shoots a lot of free throws and 3s," or, more precisely, "He makes a lot of free throws and 3s." But that, too, seems unwieldy. What we need is a single tool, a simple two-word explainer that shows how a player like Billups can be such a devastating weapon while missing nearly three-fifths of his field goal attempts.

It turns out we have it, and it’s something called "secondary percentage." First mooted, as far as I can tell, by my Basketball Prospectus successor and occasional ESPN.com contributor Kevin Pelton 15 months ago, the idea is to simply take the difference between a player’s TS% and his field goal percentage.

Baseball fans will recognize this instantly as a knockoff of Bill James’ "secondary average" formula, which in one number explains all the things a player does — besides hit for average — to contribute to his offensive value.

I’m sure you don’t want to hear it, but not only is Billups leading the league this year, his secondary percentage would be the best season all-time. In 2005-06, his secondary percentage was third-best all-time.

Anyway, I decided to see how this year’s Pistons’ stack up.

DaJuan Summers (11.2 percent) leads the team. It’s a small sample, but if you want to make a case he should get more playing time, this is probably your best weapon.

Among rotation players, Ben Gordon has the best secondary percentage (11.0). So, I guess that’s encouraging.

Unsurprisingly, Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown have negative secondary percentages.

To see every Pistons’ secondary percentage, see below the jump.

Continue reading →

This is why Jonas Jerebko plays, and Austin Daye doesn’t

Check the stats from last night’s 105-100 loss to the Celtics:

  • Jonas Jerebko: 16 points (5-of-9 from the field) and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.
  • Austin Daye: Nine points (4-of-7) and five rebounds in 13 minutes.

Per minute, those stats are very similar. In fact, Daye’s are a little better. But that only tells half the story.

On defense, Jerebko is a bull. His nose for the ball is incredible. How many times does he tip a rebound or an opponent’s dribble or pass he has no business getting near? Even if the Pistons don’t get the ball, he slows a fastbreak opportunity.

Here’s Daye’s defensive gameplan:

  1. Lift head.
  2. Find correct defensive positioning.
  3. Put head down.
  4. Shuffle to correct spot.
  5. Repeat until opponent scores.

I was really impressed by Daye offensively last night. When Detroit drafted him, I expected him to be just a spot-up shooter. But his game is pretty varied.

He used a nice head fake to get by Paul Pierce twice. He also made swift cuts and showed good hands.

He just needs a lot of work on his defensive positioning. The good news is, despite being rail thin, he’s not a terrible defender. He just needs to learn where to go.

Prince is growing on me

Tayshaun Prince has looked a lot more positive lately – and I don’t just mean on the floor. A couple times last night, he was spotted giving instructions to younger players.

And he had a smile while doing it.

That’s the Prince the Pistons need.

Ben Gordon’s funk

Midway through the second quarter, the Celtics tipped the ball out of bounds. Detroit inbounded with one second left on the shot clock.

Ben Gordon worked his way around the court, took the pass and made the smoothest-looking shot I’d seen from him in a long time.

“He didn’t have time to think about it even a little bit,” George Blaha said on the TV telecast.

And that’s exactly why Gordon made it.

Gordon is still clearly uncomfortable after his injury. It’s the most time he’s missed in the NBA, and I’m sure he was disappointed he didn’t rebound quicker. Now, I think the problem is just compounding.

It seems like his head is spinning on the court, and that’s obviously not productive. I’m becoming less and less convinced he can shake this until he gets a summer break.

But with Gordon’s work ethic, he might spend the whole off-season shooting jumpers. I’m not sure that would be best for him.