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Archive → September, 2010

Video: Charlie Villanueva talks about his offseason, whether starting is important to him and the necessity to become tougher on defense

Although the battle for minutes on the perimeter will be interesting to watch unfold, perhaps the more important battle will be at the power forward spot, where Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva and even Jason Maxiell or Greg Monroe could vie for the spot.

Based on praises of offseason work alone, the spot could be Villanueva’s to lose. He discusses the importance of being a starter, as well as the need for him to become a better defensive player in order to earn that spot.

Look for Jonas Jerebko to edge Charlie Villanueva for starting PF spot

I’m pretty confident, barring injury, the Pistons’ opening-night starting lineup will be:

But if there’s one position up for grabs, it’s power forward. Jerebko was a better player last year and likely a better complement the other four projected starters. Charlie Villanueva has greater potential and may have put in better (if not more) work this summer.

So much attention has been paid to the logjam on the  wing, deservedly so. It’s the deepest, most talented and most accomplished part of the team. Everyone recognizes that if not handled properly, the minute breakdown could have disastrous effects on and off the court.

But for John Kuester, managing the power forward situation, might also take a delicate touch.

Jerebko earned a huge role last season because he worked hard and played smartly. But he also received minutes because of the Pistons’ injuries. If he doesn’t see as many minutes with everyone healthy, how would he take that?

“Of course, it’s fun to start,” Jerebko said. “But I mean, I’m just trying to get on the court and help the team. And of course I want to keep starting, and I’m going to work for it, too.”

Villanueva also wants to start. As I’ve written before, I think Villanueva fancies himself a better player than he is. More than anything, starting raises a player’s profile and gives him a higher status in the league.

“It’s very important,” Villanueva said. “It’s important to me to just be on the court. I think I can bring so much to this team, and last year it was hard for me with the injuries, and that limited me to do some of those things. I’m feeling healthy. I feel 100 percent. So, I’m excited to be on the court.”

Really, I think both players would be fine coming off the bench, as long as they still get consistent minutes. But I’m not sure of that. Either could sulk.

I’m glad both want to start. I’d have a problem if they didn’t.

The wing players battling for minutes will be a storyline all season, unless Detroit makes a trade. But right now, I think the power forward situation is the most intriguing.

I also think Kuester offered a clue at Pistons media day yesterday about who will start.

“Piston basketball is playing defense, grinding things out, making sure you execute on offense, setting great screens,” Kuester said. “… It isn’t always the most talented team, as opposed to the team that plays best together.”

Who does that sound like to you?

Video: Tayshaun Prince calls competition for perimeter minutes ‘interesting’ and says he’s excited about the development of the team’s young players

Like Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince is a bit soft spoken, so here’s another hint to throw on your head phones and crank your volume up.

Prince discussed the competition for minutes on the perimeter, the frustration of missing games for the first time in his career and his excitement for training camp. He also said he thinks the team’s young players will show significant improvement this season.

Video: Jonas Jerebko would like to hang onto his starting job and he learned a lot from leading the Swedish National Team this summer

Jonas Jerebko is one of a few Pistons vying for a starting power forward spot, and he says he plans to continue to bring the work ethic and energy that won him the starting job as a rookie last season.

He also talked about his strong play for the Swedish National Team and, although Dan Feldman got clowned a bit by Jerebko and Vincent Goodwill for bringing it up, Jerebko says he in now way sees himself as a center. A point of order fellas: when Jerebko was drafted, he was compared quite often to David Lee, who’s been an undersized center the last two years in NY. It was a legit question. It was certainly more legit than someone (who shall remain nameless, mostly because I don’t know their name) asking the mild-mannered and quiet Ben Gordon if he thought the NBA’s new technical foul rule would impact the way he plays.

Video: Rodney Stuckey says Dime Magazine quote was innaccurate, he discusses becoming a vocal leader and he dropped 10 pounds in the offseason

Last week, Rodney Stuckey‘s quote to Dime Magazine caused a mini-buzz (and commenter Laser’s head to explode) in a slow news time. Stuckey reportedly said the Pistons were “the best team in the league on paper.”

So naturally, on media day, that was the first question he was asked, and Stuckey said that the quote wasn’t accurate, although he believes the Pistons are certainly among the most talented in the league.

He also discusses, at length, his belief that he needs to become a more vocal leader and he says he lost 10 pounds in the offseason to get quicker.

I’m slightly worried about Jonas Jerebko’s view of himself

The Pistons have a president in Joe Dumars who’s committed to defense.

They have a coach in John Kuester who’s committed to defense.

And they have veterans like Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince who are committed to defense.

The top-down organizational devotion to defense is big part of the reason I think Dumars signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. I can’t believe Dumars thought those two had been good defenders. But I could see him thinking the Pistons’ system could overcome that.

Well, maybe the opposite has happened.

I’m more concerned with how he plays than what he says about how he plays, but Jonas Jerebko didn’t exactly thrill me at Pistons media day yesterday. Jerebko said he worked on “everything” this summer, but the two areas he named were ball-handling and his mid-range game.

With the the Pistons’ roster, how often will Jerebko need to handle the ball? How often will he need to shoot a mid-range jumper?

Jerebko played so much last season because he was a perfect role player. He hustled, defended and offensive rebounded. Trying to become a go-to player would not help the Pistons in the short-term (probably not in the long term, either). They already have enough players with that mindset.

Jerebko bulking up a little so he can better defend power forwards would help. Improving his 3-pointer so he can stretch the floor would help. Even trying to play center would have a chance to help, given how thin the Pistons’ frontcourt is.

But apparently that experiment is long over.

“I don’t see myself as a center,” Jerebko said.

Given how he played as a rookie last year, I’m pretty sure Jerebko works hard. I’m just not sure he worked smartly this offseason.

There is a big caveat to all this, though. Jerebko played for Sweden in European Championships this summer. Unless I’m underrating Joakim Kjellbom, Jerebko had to carry that team – and he did. He averaged 25 points and 12.3 rebounds in four games.

“It got me a lot more confident, to show myself that I can do it,” Jerebko said.

If an American played professionally overseas and refused to cater his game for an American national team at the expense of his professional team, American fans would revolt. I don’t have a problem with Jerebko working on his game in ways that would help Sweden more than the Pistons, especially because playing for his home country was more immediate.

I just hope he can still be a good role player for the Pistons, especially at power forward. This team needs more players who can accept a role. I hope they didn’t lose one such player over the summer.

Someone asked Jerebko whether he could average 25 and 10 here.

“I’m definitely not going to do that,” Jerebko said, “but I’m going to try.”

I just hope he doesn’t try too hard.

Video: Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester is excited by the team’s versatility, but says players have to buy in defensively in order to earn minutes

Apologies for the extra caption at the beginning of this video. It looks dumb, but not really dumb enough for me to take it out and re-upload.

John Kuester talked mainly about his desire to see the team play tough, hard-nosed defense, form some chemistry and rebound the ball better. He was also pretty adamant that for his rotation, he’ll look first for the guys who play best together, not necessarily the most talented players of the bunch, stressing the importance of improved chemistry this season.

My favorite point he made was towards the end when he said Rodney Stuckey could become one of the best defensive guards in the NBA with proper commitment, a take I agree wholeheartedly with.

Video: Ben Gordon discusses his ankle, how the team can get more wins and his thoughts on the Miami Heat

Ben Gordon faced a barrage of the same question that was basically phrased five different ways from different reporters at Detroit Pistons Media Day.

He gamely and politely answered each time though: he’s healthy, he’s ready to have a better season and it’s up to coach John Kuester to decide how the perimeter minutes will be distributed.

Gordon also discussed the need for better chemistry, his thoughts on the Miami Triad and his excitement about adding Tracy McGrady to the team.

Richard Hamilton spooked by NBA’s new technical foul guidelines

Richard Hamilton spoke like he was on death row and a little gallows humor was his only defense mechanism.

No, he’s not worried about being traded. (Insert cliché quote about understanding the NBA is a business and wanting to play for his current team.)

No, Hamilton’s fear comes from the the NBA’s new technical-foul guidelines, which illegalize the slightest whining.

“I do a lot of that,” Hamilton said at today’s Pistons media day.

I think there’s a good chance the new guidelines are an empty gesture, to be called during the preseason and slowly phased out. In a few weeks, they’ll barely be remembered. But if not?

“That puts me at 15 before midseason,” Hamilton said.

I actually like the new guidelines. Players expend too much energy on something that detracts from the game. But it needs to go both ways. Too often, I’ve seen referees act as the instigator in arguments. If the league holds its officials to the same standards, the changes are positive.

Obviously, Hamilton doesn’t see it the same way.

“I don’t know how they’re going to dictate or figure out what’s whining and what’s not,” Hamilton said. “… That’s really hard to call because every play down court, guys are whining.”

Yes, every play Hamilton is in the game.

I’m not blaming Hamilton. He complains to officials with as much rope as they’ll give him. If he hangs himself with this new rule, then I’d have a problem with him.

Hamilton said putting tape over his mouth might be a solution. Then he realized even that might not be enough. The wrong gesture will draw a technical, too.

“Any player that plays with emotions, it’s going be tough,” Hamilton said. “Somebody like Tayshaun, he’ll be cool.”

(UPI Photo/Scott R. Galvin)

Yup, these new guidelines won’t hurt the Pistons at all. Not in the slightest.

Video: Tracy McGrady discusses his health, his role on the Detroit Pistons and how difficult the last two seasons have been

In the first of our six videos from Detroit Pistons Media Day, Tracy McGrady talks mainly about his health, both currently (he says he’s as healthy as he’s been in three years) and over the past two seasons in Houston, including the difficulty in watching his Houston teammates advance to the second round of the playoffs without him as he recovered from microfracture surgery.

Just a note: McGrady is a bit of a low talker. He’s a bit hard to hear at certain points. Just turn your volume way up and use headphones for this one, and you can hear most of it. The audio quality will be better in the subsequent videos I post.