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Archive → July, 2010

Ho-hum: Detroit Pistons sign Greg Monroe

From a team release:

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed its first round draft selection Greg Monroe to a contract.  Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Monroe was drafted by Detroit with the seventh overall selection in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft.  The 6-foot-11 forward from Georgetown University averaged 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks in 34 games as a sophomore for the Hoyas.  The New Orleans, LA native was named to the Big East All-Tournament team after averaging 19.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists on .545 shooting from the floor while leading the Hoyas to the championship game.  Monroe recorded 14 double-doubles last season (13 points/rebounds and one points/assists) and led the team in scoring 13 times, rebounding 30 times and assists 15 times.  He scored a career-high 29 points and tied career-high 16 rebounds at Villanova (1/17/10).  His career-high 12 assists at Providence (2/9/10) were the most by a center in Big East history.

As a freshman, Monroe was named Big East Rookie of the Year after averaging 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 assists in 31 games.  He recorded 17 consecutive double-figure scoring games, including four doubles and scored a season-high 21 points while grabbing 10 rebounds at Notre Dame (2/28/09).

Joe Dumars denies interest in New Jersey Nets vacancy

From release:

“In response to today’s media reports regarding the New Jersey Nets, I can say that I do not have any interest in a basketball operations position with the Nets.  My priority is to continue leading the Pistons’ basketball operations efforts and putting together a team that is ready to compete and get back on track next season.”

Did he have an interest Saturday, when he reportedly talked with Rod Thorn and Avery Johnson? As I wrote earlier today, I’m not sure Dumars would have even spoken with the Nets a year or two ago.

This is probably the end of it, given Dumars’ reputation for honesty. That reputation helps him as a general manager, and I don’t think he would sacrifice it this way.

Still, I don’t think this denial necessarily means Dumars won’t leave for New Jersey. Coaches and GMs give statements like these all the time. They don’t always mean them.

It would be tough to sign free agents to Detroit if they believe you’re leaving. This statement could just be a way of leaving both avenues open.

Until new information emerges, though, I’m willing to take Dumars at his word.

PANIC!: Joe Dumars reportedly considering New Jersey Nets’ GM opening

The New Jersey Nets interviewed Joe Dumars for their general manager opening, according to Al Iannazzone of The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record. Avery Johnson and out-going GM Rod Thorn reportedly attended the meeting.

Dumars quickly issued denials to Chris Iott of MLive, Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News and Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

Ellis goes a step further, citing a source who said the Nets are interested in Dumars.

What to make of this

It’s bad. Anyone who has read this blog knows I have a lot of faith in Dumars as the team’s general manager. Not only is he an a Pistons icon, he’s proven himself to be one of the league’s top GMs.

Speculating, I’d bet Dumars met with Avery Johnson and Thorn. I’d also guess Dumars is interested, but they didn’t consider the meeting "formal," which allows him to deny interviewing with a semi-clear conscience. It was a discussion among friends, not an interview – at least that’s how they can spin it.

The newspaper accounts make it appear Dumars was only asked whether he interviewed. Did anyone ask – and get an answer on – whether Dumars spoke with Johnson and/or Thorn in the last few days? If that’s a yes, we can go from there.

A year or two ago, Dumars never would’ve taken that meeting. In the end, I doubt he’ll go to New Jersey. But that he’s even entertaining the thought has me deeply concerned about the new upper management and ownership.

If Dumars actually goes, not only is it a huge loss, I don’t trust anyone in the organization to hire a proper replacement. John Hammond should probably be the first call, but if Dumars just left, would that give him pause about taking the job?

Hopefully, this is a wakeup call for Karen Davidson.

Detroit MLE Dreams: Brendan Haywood

Essentials

Position: Center

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 263 pounds

Years pro: Nine

Age: 30

What he brings

Pros

  • Haywood does everything you’d want a traditional center to do.
  • Haywood, who averaged 2.1 blocks per game last year, can be counted to defend the rim.
  • Because of his large frame, he can also keep some of the league’s bigger centers off the blocks – at least sometimes, which is more than the many players masquerading as centers can say.
  • How does someone rank 383rd at for field-goal percentage at the rim and 29th in overall field-goal percentage? He takes 70.3 percent of his shots at the rim – the 22nd-highest clip in the league. Haywood’s offensive game is in the paint. Too many Pistons with the ability to score inside, roam on the perimeter. Haywood doesn’t.
  • He has a nice hook shot and scores efficiently on put-backs. The latter is particularly relevant, given he’s fourth among active players in offensive-rebounding percentage.
  • He’s a solid defensive rebounder, too.

Cons

  • Haywood’s bulk means he’s not the best pick-and-roll defender, which wouldn’t make him a great defensive fit next to Greg Monroe, who will also likely won’t have the versatility to cover quicker players.
  • He has poor hands and isn’t the most adept dribbler. So, he can only take advantage of his hook shot if he has already established good position in the post before the entry pass – and catches it.
  • Haywood is a poor free-throw shooter. So, when the Pistons want a defense-first lineup (assuming Ben Wallace re-signs) late in the game, their opponents will have two great options to intentionally foul.
  • Not that it’s a huge deal given his role, but Haywood basically has no passing skills.

How he fits

I’ve been infuriated by how many people have said the Pistons need to add a big man who can score inside and protect the rim on the other end. So many make it seem like those types of players grow on trees. In reality, they get max contracts.

But Haywood might the most available and affordable of the bunch. He’s exactly the type of player the Pistons need.

He’s a little old, but he would make the team better right away. When Dumars began building the Pistons into a title contender the first time, he traded for a 35-year-old Clifford Robinson. Robinson taught the young Pistons how to play tough defense every night. This group needs a similar lesson, and Haywood could serve as the teacher.

Robinson was never going to be Detroit’s long-term solution at center, but he made the team better. At a certain point, this team needs to make steps to get better, too.

In other words

Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game:

Brendan Haywood is exactly what most teams want in a center. He’s not perfect, but he’s stable, productive, and competent enough to hold his own on both ends while the bigger names steal the show. It’s unlikely that Brendan will ever be the singular force that propels a team to greatness, but he is talented enough to provide the foundation from which stars leap up.

Haywood is not particularly versed as a back-to-the-basket threat (he only scored 0.85 points per possession on his post-up opportunities with the Mavs last season, according to Synergy Sports), but he does finish his open attempts around the hoop and is a solid pick-and-roll finisher. Brendan’s length enhances his finishing abilities even if he’s not a particularly explosive athlete, and he’s mobile enough to give defenses trouble on his rolls to the rim. Ultimately, Haywood makes for a fine complementary offensive player. He’ll prevent opposing centers from helping too aggressively, create a little on his own, and finish his put-backs on offensive rebounds (Brendan was second in the NBA in offensive rebounding rate last season), which is a pretty decent combination of skills for a seven-footer.

Defensively is where Haywood shines, though. He was never really put in a position to succeed during his short time with the Mavs due to the timing of his acquisition and his inconsistent role, but when empowered by his team, Brendan is a defensive force. Dwight Howard once ranked Haywood as the third best defender in the league, and he may not be as far off as you’d think. While the NBA has a number of elite defenders, there are few centers better than Haywood. His impact isn’t as profound as Howard’s, but Brendan was actually a comparable defender to Dwight in most areas of on-ball defense.

Defensive Play Haywood FG% Allowed Haywood PPP Allowed Howard FG% Allowed Howard PPP Allowed
Isolation 39.0% 0.79 48.2% 0.93
Post-Up 42.4% 0.78 34.1% 0.72
P&R Roll 46.8% 0.92 32.6% 0.69
Spot-Up 37.2% 0.83 43.1% 0.91

Note: Dwight Howard’s defensive stats are based on the entire 2009-2010 season, but Haywood’s stats are only from his time with the Mavs.

Brendan isn’t as effective in defending the pick-and-roll nor he is as good of a team defender, but Dwight’s standard in those areas is a tad ridiculous. Instead, whichever team Haywood signs with will have a top-notch on-ball post defender, a good help-side shot-blocker that can erase the mistakes of his teammates on the perimeter, and a good rebounder. What more can you really ask for, especially if Haywood opts to sign somewhere for the mid-level?

Signability

I just don’t see how Detroit can get Haywood for the mid-level exception. I think he’ll command a lot more money that that, but for a second let’s say he slips through the cracks of the teams with cap space. Contenders will offer him the full mid-level, too. Why would he pick Detroit over them?

Haywood appears to be looking for a deal worth at least $10 million per season, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. That’s probably a little more than Haywood is worth, but I don’t think it’s more than he’ll get.

If it takes a five- or six-year contract, I’d pass. Three or fewer sounds acceptable. Four is a tossup.

Mahoney said he would be receptive to a sign-and-trade built around Richard Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince, but he thinks it’s less likely the Mavericks would be interested. If they trade Erick Dampier for a center, that would increase Detroit’s chances. Otherwise, Dallas would need Haywood even more.

Conclusion

Haywood is very high on my wish list. I think it’s important to make this team better in the short-term, even if that means pursuing older free agents. An improved Pistons would boost the trade value of all their players and boost morale in a franchise that increasingly appears to be in disarray behind the scenes.

In the end, I think Haywood will be too expensive for Detroit. He’s too good and plays too important a position to land on a rebuilding team without any cap space or premium players to return in a sign-and-trade.

Previous

Detroit Pistons’ reported free agent targets: Brendan Haywood, Matt Barnes and Raymond Felton

The Pistons have contacted Brendan Haywood and Matt Barnes, according to Ted Kulfan and Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. Raymond Felton’s agent planned to contact the Pistons, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

Beginning the Detroit MLE Dreams profiles is long overdue, and you can bet those three guys rank at the top of the agenda.

D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog was kind enough to provide a couple write-ups on players who will sign elsewhere. If you’re curious, here’s what he had to say about two players I thought the Pistons could get, but won’t:

Drew Gooden

After watching Gooden play for 24 games last year, a few things became evident. As a spot up shooter and pick and pop guy, Gooden is extremely effective. Gooden also loves crashing the offensive glass, as evidenced by his 3.5 offensive rebounds per game. Gooden is pretty good at drawing fouls as well, going there 4.2 times a game as a Clipper and converting those chances at a ridiculous 92% clip. Gooden struggles as a passer because he often fails to recognize double teams, but he’s still a fine offensive player that can succeed in a featured scoring role or a complimentary one. Defensively Gooden is pretty limited — he’s not a presence at the rim, can’t block shots, is a little foot slow, and really only serves as a pretty good defensive rebounder (9.4 rebounds per game). The league is gravitating towards stretch fours, and Gooden fulfills that role while providing the added bonus of some hard-nosed rebounding. He’s not perfect, but Gooden absolutely deserves substantial minutes on an NBA roster next season because of his offensive skill-set.

Steve Blake

It sounds cliché, but you really don’t get to appreciate the things Steve Blake brings to the table until he’s suiting up for your side. As a basketball player and athlete, Blake is extremely limited. He can’t, and won’t, drive into the paint. He rarely gets by his man. He never shoots off the dribble. He’s a little slow and a little weak on the ball defensively. Just those deficiencies alone seem like deal-breakers, but here’s the thing: Out of every player I’ve seen suit up for the Clippers, no one understood his own limitations better than Steve Blake. Add in a total unselfishness to his keen sense of self-awareness, and you have an incredibly solid distributor and general at the point guard position. Blake always seems to make the right pass to the right guy in the context of the offense, rarely ever makes mistakes and tries to do too much, and simply doesn’t take bad shots. He’s a solid distributor, a really good spot up shooter who can stretch the defense, and a good effort guy defensively. There isn’t a safer point guard on the planet than Blake — he’s a coach’s dream and a perfect fit for a team that features a lot of scorers and playmakers.

Terrico White was good value at No. 36 – just not for the Detroit Pistons

I’m not attacking Terrico White.

If you have any deductive skills, by this point, you can probably guess the rest of this post won’t be so positive. But to clarify, I’m against the Pistons picking White, not White himself – and there’s a difference.

Look, I get it. White is ridiculously athletic – maybe the best athlete in this draft. It was the second round. The odds of finding a future contributor are low. Why not swing for the fences?

Because the Pistons give him too small a chance of succeeding.

Like I did with Greg Monroe earlier, let’s take an in-depth look at White.

Athleticism

This has to be the conversation starter with White. He was arguably the best athlete at the NBA Combine:

  • Lowest body fat
  • Highest max vertical
  • Fifth-fastest sprint
  • Sixth-highest no-step vertical

At minimum, those numbers mean White has tons of potential.

Rodney Stuckey/ Dwyane Wade comparisons

White likes to compare himself to Dwyane Wade. Many Pistons fans have been a touch more sensible, saying White’s skill-set resembles Rodney Stuckey’s. All three are tweener guards with the strength and speed to trouble the league’s smaller or average-sized guards.

The big difference: Wade and Stuckey actually do it.

The hallmark of Wade’s and Stuckey’s offensives games are getting to the free-throw line. Wade led all guards eligible for the scoring title in free-throw attempts per game last season, and Stuckey ranked ninth.

Both showed that skill in college, too.

Wade averaged 9.2 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes (pace adjusted), his final season at Marquette. Stuckey took 9.4 free throws per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) his last year at Eastern Washington.

White took only 4.1 free throws per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) last season – 12th among the 15 guards drafted this year.

There are few reasons why White comes up short:

  • He’s a suspect ball-handler, especially in the traffic of the paint.
  • His agility rating at the combine was only so-so (and DraftExpress said he has good lateral quickness, the aspect of the agility drill least relevant here) which might mean he’d struggle to get defenders off balance and draw fouls.
  • He often uses pull-ups and floaters when driving. (To be fair, White’s offensive strength is his mid-range game.)

So, despite similar body types, White doesn’t stack up to Wade and Stuckey.

Scoring

At Mississippi, White’s main objective seemed to be scoring.

He tied Avery Bradley for tops among drafted guards with .97 field-goal attempts per possession. White’s assists and turnovers per possession ranked last among that group.

But he didn’t do it effectively. Of the 15 guards drafted this year, White’s true shooting percentage ranked 13th.

His mid-range game gives him a chance with Detroit, but a lot of White’s offensive success at Mississippi came playing up-tempo. He won’t have those opportunities nearly as frequently with the Pistons.

Point guard

White has said he’s more comfortable playing point guard than shooting guard. Why someone who shoots first, passes last and doesn’t dribble all that well would say that is a little confounding.

Point guards are certainly more valuable than shooting guards, so maybe White’s agent – who hasn’t been shy about talking up his client in the media – told White to say that. I don’t know.

White was criticized for shooting too much last season, when he played shooting guard. He shot even more often (per 40 minutes, pace adjusted) the year prior as a point guard.

White averaged 1.8 assists per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) – last among among the 15 guards drafted this year.

His supporters will emphasize he turned the ball over just 1.6 times per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) – fewest among drafted guards.

But I think that’s just a sign White doesn’t look to pass. It’s difficult to turn the ball over when you shoot quickly.

Maybe White really is a good point guard, or maybe he’s not. But he didn’t show much one way or the other in college, and I think most players with sufficient point-guard skills tend to reveal them in the course of two seasons.

Defense

If I’m Joe Dumars, here’s what I tell White:

Concentrate on defense. That will your ticket to playing time this season. Work on your offense for down the road. But if you want to see minutes this year, it will be because we can count on you as a stopper in limited minutes.

The big question is how that would go over for someone who was so offensively focused at Mississippi.

His steals ranked 14th, and his blocks ranked 13th among guards drafted this year. Obviously, those don’t tell the entire story.

Mississippi allowed 0.5 fewer points per 40 minutes with White on the court compared to him on the bench. But that only ranks eighth among the 15 drafted guards.

Still, there’s a lot more to learn about White’s defense that stats don’t tell us. Summer league and the preseason should begin to reveal a more complete picture.

White has the tools to be a quality NBA defender. But I’m not sure he’s close to taking advantage of them.

Projection

Style comparison: Shannon Brown (Extremely athletic guard, who has defensive potential because of that, but only occasionally takes advantage of it. Didn’t find a fit offensively until he joined a team that allowed him to play point guard without handling almost any traditional point-guard duties.)

(Thanks to Daniel Bromwich for helping with the comparison.)

Ability comparison: Jason Kapono this year (Kapono, a usually solid role player and 3-point specialist, struggled with the 76ers’ Princeton offense because he didn’t fit the scheme, which required him to be a better all-around player.)

(Thanks to Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching and probably more relevantly here, NBA Playbook, for helping with the comparison.) (Yes, I needed a lot of help with this section.) (I might also be using too many parentheses because of it.)

Bottom line: The good news? White has the physical tools and playing ability (emphasis on the former) to make an impact in this league.

The bad news? The odds of it happening in Detroit are pretty low.

He’s best-suited for an up-tempo system, which the Pistons didn’t have even before drafting Greg Monroe, who fits best in a half-court system. And White will be buried on the depth chart if Detroit doesn’t make a trade or let Will Bynum walk.

Maybe White has the talent to overcome all that, but it’s not likely.