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Rodney Stuckey takes big risk with bold statements about leadership

This is a put-up or shut-up year for Rodney Stuckey.

He has a general manager who won’t offer him a contract extension.

He has a coach who isn’t entirely sold on the guard’s defensive commitment.*

And, I suspect, he’s about to have some teammates a little ticked at him.

*“Rodney Stuckey has a chance to be one of the best defensive guards in our league,” Pistons coach Kuester said at Pistons media day yesterday. “He’s just got to commit to that 24-7 for us.”

Stuckey wasn’t shy yesterday about saying he will lead the team this year.

“I’m becoming a man,” Stuckey said. “So, on the court, I have to act like a man. And that’s by being more vocal, just showing the guys that I’m willing to take pretty much the captain’s spot. So, that’s what I need to act like, like I’m the captain of this team.

“That’s just how it has to be, because in order for us to win and be good, somebody has to do that. I think the year before that and last year, we really didn’t have that on the team. Somebody needs to step up and do it.”

There were other players on those teams. Some of them might have even fancied themselves leaders. Heck, those very same players might still be on the team. I’m not so sure Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince will appreciate those comments.

Maybe Stuckey didn’t mean what he said. There were two main reasons the Pistons struggled last season: injuries and a lack of ability. A leadership void can be the type of vague talking points athletes fall back on. So, maybe that’s what happened here.

Or maybe there is a real leadership problem.

Chauncey Billups was a clear leader. When he was traded, Hamilton and Prince remained captains. As of Oct. 5 last year, the Pistons hadn’t named captains, but Kuester said Hamilton, Prince and Ben Wallace were serving as the team’s leaders.

But funny thing, I can’t find any record of the Pistons actually naming captains last season. Patrick said Hamilton, Prince and Wallace met with the referees before each game when they were healthy, so maybe they were captains. Maybe, even if it wasn’t publicly announced, every player knew who the captains were.

Or maybe Detroit never named captains. I requested clarification from the Pistons media relations department, so I’ll update when I get more info.

Either way, Stuckey has, at least through words, inserted himself as a leader.

“I have to be,” Stuckey said. “It’s my fourth year now. I’m going to be a lot more vocal this year. It’s just in my nature. It’s just my time to take over this team and just be that guy, just to be that vocal person.”

I think this is a pretty crazy move by Stuckey. He had enough on his plate already. He needs to finish better, defend better and initiate the offense better. If he does all those things – and waits out a trade of Hamilton and/or Prince – he’d progress into a leader, anyway. Why force it now? Is he that sure he’s ready?

I can take some solace in knowing Stuckey isn’t as delusional as he appeared when he was quoted recently as saying, “On paper, we are the best team in the League.”

“That was inaccurate,” Stuckey said. “He kind of wrote it down wrong. I told him that we were one of the best, one of the best, not the best team.”*

*In general, I’m tired of people saying something they regret and then blaming the media for misquoting them. I have no idea whether Stuckey was misquoted here. But even if he wasn’t, realizing his initial statement was nonsense shows at least some brains.

Stuckey sent a clear message yesterday. If Hamilton, Prince or Wallace have any reservations about leading, Stuckey let them off the hook. They now know they can depend on Stuckey to lead if they so choose. I hope those veterans cut Stuckey a break and help him lead, but I’m not sure that will happen.

They might just tell him to put up or shut up, just like Dumars has by not offering a contract extension.

I hope Stuckey knows what he’s getting himself into.

8 Comments

  • Sep 28, 201011:03 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    One thing I will say in Stuckey’s defense about the quote:

    It was Dime. I could legitimately see Dime getting it wrong, more than some other places at least.

  • Sep 28, 201012:02 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    Well, the Pistons do have one of the deepest teams in the league – though they lack that space eating big man in the middle. 

    Their second team should be better than the other team’s second unti every night. So it is up to Q to use that depth appropriately.

    And that is were i lack confidence in this team: Q had rough luck with injuries last year but he also showed me a lack of imagination, a reliance on some horrible offensive sets, and a defense that seldom finished rotations against penetration

    This team will go as far as its coaching and rebounding take it.

  • Sep 28, 20103:38 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    yes. very deep team made entirely of average players. their 13-15 men may well be the best in the league by a country mile. but those guys are also MARGINALLY worse than their bench players, who are no worse on the whole than their starters. everyone on this team is at best a shade above average. but very, very deep with mediocrity.

  • Sep 28, 20107:04 pm
    by Nelson

    Reply

    I honestly don’t see what the problem is. Aside from Ben Wallace at times, this team clearly is lacking leadership and i’m sure Stuck is just echoing what higher bodies have told him they want this year and good on him for aserting himself.

  • Sep 28, 201010:54 pm
    by Jonathan

    Reply

    Have you got a bugbear with Stuck generally?  These comments are nothing but a good thing.
    If the players don’t (over-)believe in the team and themselves then this core will never go anywhere.

  • Sep 29, 20108:56 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Jonathan:
    The leadership thing is weird. On a team with Wallace, Hamilton and Prince, three vets who have won big in this league, Stuckey basically said the team had no leadership.
    Maybe it’s true. But true or not, I can’t imagine that they would agree with that perspective.

  • Sep 29, 20102:17 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    stuckey had every opportunity to “lead” this team the moment chauncey was traded. he’s the point guard! he just didn’t step up. he’s just not good enough. it’s the same old story with stuck. over and over. every season he’s going to break through. right. i’m holding my breath… i trust bynum will prove to be the better leader, both vocally and in terms of performance.

  • Oct 1, 20105:53 am
    by Kris

    Reply

    I really do not buy this pure PG discussion and I do like Stuckey’s effort. However, sometimes it seems to me, he’s just foolish. Calling for up tempo plays, when your coach seems to be thinking otherwise, claiming himself a leader, when there are more experienced, respected guys on the team – that’s just stupid. The leader emerges on the court. Focus on improving your decision making, be smart on the floor, make your teammates better and you won’t need to say anything!! And if you need to talk, talk to your team first … and last.

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