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Dan Feldman’s 2010-11 season preview

Five Pistons predictions

1. Rodney Stuckey will have the best season of his career.

This might not exactly be going out on a limb. Stuckey has had his best season ever year of his career. Yet, somehow, his improvement has been small enough that he hasn’t turned the corner toward stardom.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Stuckey makes another small, short-of-star step again this year. It would surprise me more if he doesn’t improve at all. Of course, he could also reach the next level.

Regardless of the magnitude, I think Stuckey gets better this year. And I think, even though it won’t have much to do with it, too much of the credit will go toward Stuckey playing in the system for consecutive years for the first time.

2. Jason Maxiell will play more than Greg Monroe.

Monroe desperately needs to add lower-body strength to be a capable defender, rebounder and screener. I’m optimistic about his future, because I think doing that won’t take away from the things he already does well.

But it will be a year until Monroe gets strong enough. Maxiell can do all those things right now.

Joe Dumars has said he wants this team to win now. Maxiell can help the Pistons do that better than Monroe, and I don’t expect that to change at any point this season.

3. Neither Tayshaun Prince nor Richard Hamilton will be traded.

I think this prediction benefits from the ownership situation. Until the team is sold, I really doubt either is traded. So that narrows the opening when a trade could occur.

Everyone criticizes Dumars for being loyal to Prince and Hamilton, and I think he is. But there’s a flip side. Other general managers are loyal to their players, too. For the most part, GMs have acquired the players on their teams. They’ve done that for a reason. That’s why there aren’t more trades in the NBA. Everybody likes their own players.

If you randomly gave every GM another team’s roster, there would be tons of trades. GMs like their guys. For Dumars, that’s Prince and Hamilton.

4. Charlie Villanueva will have a better season than Austin Daye.

I like Daye’s long-term prospects. But he’s not a power forward. He’s just too small to hold up there.

With his improved strength and conditioning, Villanueva can play power forward without problem.

If Daye was playing small forward, who will have a better season would be a close race. With both at power forward, it’s no contest.

5. The Pistons will finish 35-47 and ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Being healthy will be a plus, but not quite enough to make the playoffs. The Pistons need more size. They need more defense. And they need more inside scoring.

They’re a flawed team, but a flawed team or two will make the playoffs in the East. It won’t surprise me if that’s the Pistons, but in a crowded field of also-rans vying for the final two playoff spots, the odds are against them.

Awards watch

Most Valuable Player – LeBron James, Heat

Nobody wants to give him the award, but he’s too good to deny. LeBron knows his reputation has taken a hit, and winning the MVP will help fix that. His good friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also know LeBron needs to restore his reputation, and I think they’ll help LeBron post MVP-worthy numbers.

Rookie of the Year – John Wall, Wizards

Like everyone else, I also considered the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. But the last five Rookie of the Year winners have been guards, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Guards adapt to the NBA better than bigs.

Defensive Player of the Year – Dwight Howard, Magic

I think you’re going to see an offensive improvement from Howard this year, and that will only make his defense better. I’m not only saying his offensive numbers will improve. I’m saying he’ll actually play better.

Howard scoring more in the post means fewer 3-point attempts for his teammates, which means fewer long rebounds, which means fewer transition opportunity for opponents. Howard anchoring a set defense means trouble for opponents.

Coach of the Year – Jerry Sloan, Jazz


Sloan is probably the best coach to never win Coach of the Year, but he has an ideal roster to win the award. He has players who aren’t universally heralded, but fit his system. That means the Jazz will be viewed as overachievers, and the coach gets the credit.

Most Improved Player – Nicolas Batum, Trail Blazers

I can’t say for certain I was going to pick Batum before he had 19 points and 11 rebounds in last night’s season opener. But among the few candidates I was considering before I saw the results of that game, Batum was my front runner.

Batum is surrounded by good teammates who complement him, which is obviously great for him. He can defend and shoot. That’s a great combination in this league.

Projected standings

Eastern Conference

  1. Heat 64-18*
  2. Magic 59-23*
  3. Celtics 54-28*
  4. Bucks 50-32*
  5. Bulls 48-34*
  6. Hawks 48-34*
  7. Knicks 40-42*
  8. Bobcats 36-46*
  9. Pistons 35-47
  10. Wizards 34-48
  11. Pacers 30-52
  12. Nets 27-55
  13. 76ers 24-58
  14. Cavaliers 17-65
  15. Raptors 16-66

Western Conference

  1. Lakers 59-23*
  2. Spurs 55-27*
  3. Mavericks 53-29*
  4. Jazz 51-31*
  5. Thunder 50-32*
  6. Rockets 48-34*
  7. Trail Blazers 46-36*
  8. Nuggets 46-36*
  9. Hornets 43-39
  10. Suns 42-40
  11. Clippers 35-47
  12. Grizzlies 32-50
  13. Warriors 32-50
  14. Timberwolves 29-53
  15. Kings 27-55


Projected playoff results

First Round

Heat over Bobcats; Magic over Knicks; Celtics over Hawks; Bulls over Bucks

Lakers over Nuggets; Spurs over Trail Blazers; Mavericks over Rockets; Thunder over Jazz

Second Round

Heat over Bulls; Magic over Celtics

Lakers over Thunder; Spurs over Mavericks

Conference Finals

Heat over Magic

Lakers over Spurs

Heat over Lakers


  • Oct 27, 20106:32 pm
    by Laser


    stuckey could have his best season by a mile and still be a huge disappointment and continue to bring this team down. it would be sad and embarrassing if he DIDN’T have the best season of his career, since they keep trying to hand the team over to him and he keeps disappointing. hopefully he plays great and we can get a good draft pick or two for him. fingers crossed.
    i’m more-or-less with you on the monroe/max and daye/cv bit. as i said in another thread to hayes, max is in line for a big role. aside from ben wallace, max is the only interior toughness on the roster. period. against most teams i’d probably have those two platooning so you’re not left with some combination of monroe/villa/daye up front. and the only reason daye has been considered a shooting guard (particularly given this roster’s absurd and cumbersome depth at that position) is because he’s considered too thin and weak to be a small forward. so i’m sure nine pounds of muscle was all he needed to play power forward. god.
    “rip won’t get traded this season” is the safest bet in the universe. there’s a better chance california slides into the ocean in that time frame. as for tayshaun, you may be right. but i PRAY you’re wrong.
    and your prediction look mighty optimistic. one win less optimistic than hayes’s, to be exact. and about ten wins more optimistic than mine. i won’t nail down a specific W-L prediction, but put me down for 50 losses.

  • Oct 27, 20107:04 pm
    by kent


    Honest to God, Avery Johnson just said this on YES: “Rodney Stuckey is a very good point guard.  He’s probably their best all around player right now.”  That comment actually caused me to spit Reese’s Pieces out of my mouth.

  • Oct 27, 20107:54 pm
    by kent


    So let me get this straight….the Nets finished last in the league with a 12-70 record and brought in a completely new roster of players who have never played each other before, yet the Pistons are down six in the second quarter?  Seeing that play coming out of the last Detroit timeout (maxiell contested hook shot off the backboard with the shot clock expiring) caused me to flip the #### out and frighten my dogs.  I have a bad feeling that this is going to be a looooong season. 

  • Oct 27, 201010:51 pm
    by Laser


    whatever gives you that idea??

  • Oct 27, 201010:56 pm
    by Laser


    also, let us not forget that the nets were without their highest paid player (troy murphy), have a much smaller payroll, plenty of cap space for next season, a bright future with guys like harris lopez and favors (who all play different natural positions), and have the flexibility to move pretty much anyone on their roster if they want to.
    oh, but the pistons will be fine. right.

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  • Oct 27, 201011:56 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    The Nets took a long time to get to that point though. They didn’t officially commit to rebuilding overnight. It took them time to move three high priced vets — Kidd, Carter, Jefferson. They lucked into Brook Lopez being really good and falling to them in the lottery and Devin Harris turned out to be better than Dallas thought he would be.
    They’re in a great position now. But it took time to get there, and they also didn’t commit to rebuilding as soon as they should, instead being content to squeak into the playoffs a couple times with the Kidd-Jefferson-Carter core that wasn’t good enough to do much but qualify.

  • Oct 28, 201012:19 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    I wouldn’t say they brought in a completely new roster. Their key players — Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Terrence Williams — are all back. Guys they brought in are mostly very good role players who would fit anywhere. I think Outlaw is a tad overpaid, but Anthony Morrow is one of the best shooters in the league and Derrick Favors is simply an athlete right now, not a guy who is going to demand touches or take away from what their main offensive weapons do.
    I know they were 12-70, but they have a lot of young talent and are going to be one of the more improved teams in the league.
    Still a bad loss by Detroit, but losing to the Nets doesn’t have the stigma it had a year ago. They’re a fine team.

  • Oct 28, 20101:08 pm
    by Laser


    yeah some key guys came back, but there’s something very disheartening about being outplayed by a team with significant roster turnover when all of our guys have been here since last summer. sure, they didn’t all play together for a whole season, but they’ve all been around. for an organization preaching the virtues of two consecutive seasons under the same coach, there doesn’t seem to be much of a game plan or a system to speak of. no cohesion. it was the same way with the preseason opener. even with the big three off the floor, we were soundly outplayed by a bunch of ring-chasers who got together a month earlier.

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