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Pressure is on John Kuester to determine how perimeter minutes will be distributed

OK, so this is probably the Media Day post everyone will be most interested in. The Pistons crowded perimeter, featuring a collection of former All-Stars (Tracy McGrady, Rip Hamilton), a young scoring machine (Ben Gordon), a steady and consistent veteran starter (Tayshaun Prince) and a promising young player who needs minutes (Austin Daye), was a huge topic of discussion before McGrady was even added to the mix.

If one thing was clear after players met with the media, it was this: all eyes are on John Kuester.

For his part, Kuester stuck to the coach-speak talking points: minutes will be earned in training camp.

“Every day we’ll compete, and we’ll recognize through that competition who’s had the summer that has put them in a position to really elevate their game,” Kuester said. “We’ll see come tomorrow or the next couple practices what kind of shape they’re in.”

That quote is great, of course, in theory. It’s what every team wants from their coach: hold people accountable, let the hardest-working, best players earn spots and send a message that there is a philosophy and discipline in place that this team will abide by. NBA fans, however, know that this doesn’t always materialize.

The Pistons have two veterans who have been major contributors to winning teams. They have another veteran who, at one time, was one of the three or four best players in this league. They have another young veteran who’s fought his whole career that he’s not just a scoring option off the bench and he signed in Detroit looking for the opportunity to be placed in a bigger role.

That’s a lot for any coach to manage. And the players expect exactly that. Kuester has to sort this out, and they are all watching with interest:

From Hamilton:

“It’s not really up to me. Coach, he’s gonna have a good time. When you’ve got a lot of special guys at a position that can put the ball in the basket and you can put them on the floor and do special things, that’s a good thing for a coach.”

From Gordon:

“Did you ask coach that question (how the minutes will be distributed)? (smiles and shrugs shoulders). I don’t know. I’m just here to play. Everything else like that is not up to me and my opinion doesn’t really matter.”

From Prince:

“It’s gonna be interesting. Coach’s job is hard. What’s neat about it is we have an opportunity to compete against each other. We have so much talent on the wing, that guys will be excited to go into training camp and test each other.”

This isn’t really anything ground-breaking. The perimeter storyline has been an obvious one. But how Kuester manages both the minutes and the egos involved could very well be the major determining factor in how this season plays out.

9 Comments

  • Sep 28, 20102:49 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    hmmm… no mention of Jonas. Odd.
     
    Also just realized there is no mobile site for PP. I thought there used to be? Could be wrong.

  • Sep 28, 20103:09 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @brgulker:
    It was pretty clear that they consider him a power forward. Kuester was big on his “this team has so much versatility” talk, but when he mentioned Jonas, it usually seemed to be with the frontcourt players.

  • Sep 28, 20103:29 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    also, speaking of all this versatility, the pistons truly may have the most individual versatility of anyone, but it’s all guys who can play the 2 or the 3.

  • Sep 28, 20105:36 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    how many of you trust Q to manage this situation correctly?

    unfortunately, i am not a believer.

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  • Sep 29, 20101:21 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    not close to a believer.
     
    i hope he comes in like a veteran coach this season, but i never got much of an “alpha” vibe from him last season, and i don’t think such a failure of a season can inspire self-confidence. i hope it does, but i doubt it.

  • Sep 29, 20101:36 pm
    by Fennis

    Reply

    I’m not yet sold on Kuester either, though I’m happy to see that everyone is talking about chemistry, which is actually a euphemism for “pass the ball.” Anyone who thinks this playing time question will unfold without major drama is naive. Drama is guaranteed. But I think Joe D. is smart to bring in as much talent as possible, hold a competition for rotation spots, and worry about discarding the excess at a later date.
    Last thing, with all of this talent and competition on the perimeter, I really hope that the Pistons finally emphasize perimeter defense. All this talk from Joe about a big man being the final piece of the puzzle obscures the fact that the Pistons perimeter defense has been abysmal over the past two seasons. The lack of a shot blocker is not an excuse for poor perimeter defense. If you look at championship teams like the Jordan/Pippen Bulls, the Thomas/Dumars Pistons and the Fisher/Bryant/Artest Lakers, their perimeter defense was arguably the best in the league at the time. Detroit’s guards haven’t approach this level of defensive intensity in several years. Why aren’t the coaches talking about that? These vague references to Stuckey’s defensive potential offer a pipedream, but nowhere near accountability. Kuester needs to step up and call it like it is.
     

  • Sep 29, 20104:30 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Laser:

    When last season it didn’t appear that he was the strong, vocal authoritarian coach the team has lacked since Larry Brown, I instead started hoping he was at least a brilliant X’s and O’s guy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to be either one.

  • Sep 29, 20104:34 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Fennis:

    I disagree slightly with your comparisons. The Bulls and Pistons teams played in a much different era — more clutching, more grabbing was allowed on the perimeter, so it was much easier to be lock down in those days when regs let a lot more contact and a lot more hand-checking slide. Plus, the Pistons had a shot blocker in Salley and bigs in Mahorn/Laimbeer who would hammer you if you went inside. That certainly helped guys at least hesitate more than they normally would when attacking the basket.

    The current version of the Lakers do have good perimeter defenders, but you neglect to mention that they have two seven-foot athletic shot blockers inside. Funneling guys to Pau/Bynum certainly makes life easier on Fisher/Bryant/Artest.

    It’s damn near impossible to be a dominant defensive team in today’s NBA. Hamilton, Prince and Stuckey are all average or better perimeter defenders. The Pistons deficiencies on defense are mainly inside. Ben Wallace can’t do it all.

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