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Patrick Hayes’ 2010-11 season preview

Five Pistons predictions

1. Rip Hamilton will not lead the team in scoring.

I predicted Hamilton’s then-streak of seven straight seasons leading the Pistons in scoring would come to an end last year. It didn’t. But that won’t stop me from predicting it will end at eight. It’s not that I’m rooting against Rip — I’ve always loved the way he plays and his style. But he’s obviously declining, and it would be much better for the team if Ben Gordon or a darkhorse candidate like Austin Daye stepped up and took that mantle from Rip this season.

2. John Kuester will get another season as coach.

I don’t mean this to be a ringing endorsement for Kuester. There are plenty of things he’s done that I find questionable. But he’s also in a pretty good position as far as coaching jobs go. The team drastically underachieved last year, and whether it’s accurate or not, most in the media have chalked that up to injuries (i.e., not the coach’s fault). The team returns relatively healthy this season and boasts a much-improved player ready to contribute in Daye, so there’s a good bet there could be enough improvement record-wise to suggest progress. And lastly, Joe Dumars has shown that he doesn’t think much about the coach if he has a team that isn’t a contender. The Pistons aren’t in a position to make a move over the next offseason that’s going to vault them back among the elite, so if the record improves, I think Kuester stays for continuity’s sake.

3. Ben Wallace will have another close-to-vintage season.

Yes, I know he’s old. I know he’s taken a physical beating throughout his career. But of all the Pistons, I’m least worried about Wallace carrying a heavy workload. I don’t know if it will mean much as far as wins and losses, but Wallace will again be one of the top rebounding big men in the league, he’ll be a presence in the paint, and he’ll very likely be the Pistons’ best player.

4. Joe Dumars won’t make an in-season trade.

There will be significant interest in Tayshaun Prince. It’s easy to picture him helping virtually any contending team win a title as a versatile wing off the bench (think guys like Matt Barnes, Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier). But the problem is contending teams can’t offer much in the form of return value. They’re not going to give up one of their rotation players for Prince, Prince has little value to bad teams (unless they’re going to unload a star-caliber player for salary relief he’d offer, and that’s unlikely), and it’s clear that his basketball IQ is valuable to the Pistons. He could get traded, but I’d say it’s more likely he stays and is re-signed to a modest deal in the offseason.

Hamilton, on the other hand, is very hard to deal unless the Pistons give up a young asset (like Daye or Greg Monroe) or draft pick to the team that takes him. And if they have do do that just to move Hamilton, what’s the point?

5. The Pistons will finish 36-46 and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

A 10-win improvement will be enough for Kuester to keep his job and, if the the team is entertaining and competitive, should be enough to appease most fans into believing the team is on the right track. I think they’ll finish third in the Central Division and be slightly better than the Pacers and Cavs.

Awards watch

MVP – Dwight Howard, Magic

Sports writers are going to bend over backwards to give the award to Kevin Durant. The best player in the league is (again) going to be LeBron James, but there’s no way writers will vote for him. Howard, on the other hand, is easily the most dominant defensive player in the league. He averages 20 points per game with ease and has an improving offensive skill set. I don’t think a 28-points, 15-rebounds, four-blocks, three-steals per-game season is out of the question.

Rookie of the Year – Blake Griffin, Clippers

Since he missed the entire season a year ago, health is at least a reasonable question. But Griffin is a superstar-in-the-making. Hopefully, the Clippers don’t ruin him. John Wall might score more points, but Griffin is a potential All-Star right now. The West is crowded, so he might not make it with all of the big names up front, but he’ll be every bit as good as those established players.

Defensive Player of the Year – Rajon Rondo, Celtics

It’s preposterous not to give this award to Howard. But I have to get Rondo in here somewhere (I almost gave him my MVP award). He’s my favorite player to watch and has one of the most unique skill sets in the NBA. He’s a lockdown perimeter defender, he’s always in passing lanes, and he’s tough. Howard is undoubtedly more impactful defensively, but I like to see a perimeter player get the award every once in a while.

Coach of the Year – Erik Spoelstra, Heat

As I type this, the Heat are about to lose a close game to one of the four best teams in the NBA. And if you follow NBA people on Twitter, folks are losing their minds, acting like Spoelstra’s job is in trouble. He’s a good coach with an immense task: battle a ridiculous amount of media coverage that is going to hyperventilate every one of the 16 or so times this team loses a game this season. The Heat are going to win big this season (at least in the regular season), Spoelstra’s still going to be the coach at the end of the season, and I don’t think any coach will come close to dealing with the kind of pressure Spoelstra will be facing this season.

Sixth Man of the Year – Ben Gordon, Pistons

Why not? There’s been plenty of debate about Gordon on PistonPowered the last few days. Is he one-dimensional? Was he a bad signing? There’s plenty of evidence to suggest both of those assertions are correct. But it’s also correct that he can be an explosive scorer, and that’s what the Sixth Man Award is all about. Can he do what Jason Terry does in Dallas or Jamal Crawford does in Atlanta? That’s not a stretch whatsoever to think he’s capable.

Most Improved Player – Serge Ibaka, Thunder

There are a lot of guys who could make big leaps this year (Olympian Eric Gordon is another one of my favorites), but Ibaka should be able to unseat Nenad Krstic as the OKC starting center at some point this season, and if he gets 25-30 minutes, with his energy, athleticism and activity, he could make a big statistical jump this season.

Projected standings

Eastern Conference

  1. Heat 66-16*
  2. Magic 59-23*
  3. Bucks 52-30*
  4. Celtics 51-31*
  5. Bulls 47-35*
  6. Knicks 44-38*
  7. Bobcats 41-41*
  8. Hawks 40-42*
  9. Nets 37-45
  10. Pistons 36-46
  11. Cavaliers 31-51
  12. Pacers 27-55
  13. Wizards 21-61
  14. 76ers 20-62
  15. Raptors 19-63

Western Conference

  1. Lakers 62-20*
  2. Thunder 57-25*
  3. Spurs 53-29*
  4. Trail Blazers 52-30*
  5. Mavericks 52-30*
  6. Rockets 48-34*
  7. Jazz 46-36*
  8. Grizzlies 40-42*
  9. Suns 39-43
  10. Nuggets 39-43
  11. Hornets 36-46
  12. Warriors 33-49
  13. Clippers 29-53
  14. Kings 29-53
  15. Timberwolves 24-58

*playoffs

Projected playoff results

First Round

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

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

Second Round

Celtics over Heat; Magic over Bucks

Lakers over Mavericks; Spurs over Thunder

Conference Finals

Celtics over Magic

Spurs over Lakers

Finals
Spurs over Celtics (and somewhere, David Stern weeps).

19 Comments

  • Oct 27, 20104:34 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    In the East i have 1) Boston 2) Orlando 3) Miami, 4) Chicago 5) Atlanta 6) Milwaukee 7) Charlotte) 8) New Jersey, Detroit, or Philly if neither Detroit or Jersey makes a trade.

    In the West i have 1)LA 2) Dallas 3) SA 4) OKC 5) Utah 6) Portland 7)Denver 8) Houston

    Memphis or Golden State could sneak in if Denver trades Melo and then tanks the second half.

    In the Eastern Conference Finals i have Boston playing Orlando with Boston advancing

    In the Western Conference Finals i have LA playing OKC with OKC advancing

    In the Finals i have Boston over OKC

  • Oct 27, 20104:39 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    1) i think stuckey’s the guy who presents the biggest challenge to rip’s team scoring title. the 3rd/4th guard on the depth chart (or whatever gordon is) stands much less of a chance. i don’t see how anyone could think a second unit player who’s not significantly better than the guys he’s playing behind has a good chance of leading the team in scoring. my bet is it goes: rip, stuck, gordon, daye…
     
    2) 36 wins? things are going to have to go SO right for this team to win almost any individual game they play. teams are going to attack daye relentlessly, stuckey’s going to be stuckey (no matter how much faith people want to waste on him). it’s hard to put a specific number on how bad they’ll be, but 50 losses looks like a very, very safe bet.
     
    3) well, there’s at least one silver lining for you here. no in-season trade means everyone’s pal laser takes an extended pistons hiatus, and everyone can cheerlead and wave the flag without anyone to rain on their parade with doses of reality. in a million years, no matter how much of an unqualified disaster joe has been lately, i can’t imagine him closing out the season AGAIN with this sorry roster.
     
    those are the predictions i don’t like. also, the notion that a measly nine game improvement is going to appease anyone is unconvincing. are fans really this stupid? so we miss the playofs, add another productive but not IMPACT player through the draft, and lock ourselves into a holding pattern of mediocrity for god knows how long. if this team doesn’t PLUMMET to the bottom of the league or absolutely knock people’s socks off, i think there are going to be a lot of unhappy campers. most of the people who like the team do so because they have high hopes and think grim assessments of the team are WAY off. they think health is going to make all the difference, chemistry will come, stuckey’s going to take that big step up he’s yet to take, ben gordon’s going to have a “bounce-back” season. stuff like that. when they see that the team stinks, i don’t think there will be too many people left on the injury bounce-back bandwagon. unless they want to wring their hands about the loss of a second round energy player. oh, who am i kidding? they will.
     
    also, i had a nice conversation with mike valenti and terry foster today. they’re with me on this.

  • Oct 27, 20104:44 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    A few questions. The Spurs? Really? Is Taigo Splitter the difference? Because if not I don’t see where they got any better. The Thunder. Everyone thinks this team is the next big thing, but they aren’t doing anything to become that. All they did was add Aldrich. Durant can’t possibly get that much better. Do they really have enough on their roster to finish 2nd in the West? I don’t think so. The West is tough, still. I’m keeping my eye on the Blazers and Oden. If he comes back and contributes watch out because that team is going to be tough to score on. Also is your Nuggets prediction assuming that Anthony gets traded? Because if he doesn’t I don’t see how they miss the playoffs.
     
    Anybody notice how deep the Lakers are last night? The Heat have no shot at beating the Lakers, even if they get things together. And Bynum isn’t even healthy. Shannon Brown, Barnes, and Blake are awesome off the bench.
     
    As for the Pistons I agree with all of the predictions, except I’m a little more pessimistic about the record. Like sub-30 wins pessimistic. I think Stuckey leads the team in scoring for some reason. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but if he shoots it well like he did in the preseason I have no problem with it. Rip and Gordon don’t look good. I don’t think either of those guys are going to lead the team in scoring. Daye would have to get a lot more minutes than projected to do it. It’s Stuckey.
     
    The Warriors are an enigma. I’ve seen 50+ win predictions to 30 win predictions. All over the map for them. Some have them in the playoffs some don’t. I think they could be pretty good.

  • Oct 27, 20104:45 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    “everyone’s pal laser takes an extended pistons hiatus, and everyone can cheerlead and wave the flag without anyone to rain on their parade with doses of reality.”
    Oy vay man. You think anything that isn’t predicting 20 wins and the absolute worst cast scenario is cheerleading and flag-waving. Give it a rest. Picking a team to win 36 games and saying, “Uh … I think they’re better than Cleveland and Indiana” isn’t exactly cheerleading.
    And yeah, Gordon can lead the team in scoring. If he’s shooting 40ish percent from three like he did most of his career before last season, he’ll play at least as much as Hamilton.

  • Oct 27, 20104:47 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    sorry, one more thing. i wouldn’t automatically assume tayshaun goes to a traditional contender. i agree that we’re not ideal trade partners with those guys. but i see you have the grizz nabbing the 8th seed. i like the grizz, and i like that prediction. ESPN’s season preview focused on how they need a strong locker room presence. tay’s a do-it-all vet with experience who can play with anyone and almost anywhere on the court. i think memphis is just the kind of team who would make an ideal trading partner. he could potentially take them over the hump, and the return would likely be a mid-rounder. stuckey and daye were #15 picks. a guy of that caliber wouldn’t be a bad return. makes more sense than extending the guy and refusing to just move on already…

  • Oct 27, 20104:53 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    I see pcb threw out his own predicitons so I’ll go for it.
     
    east: 1. Miami 2. Orlando 3. Boston 4. Chicago 5. Milwaukee 6. Atlanta 7. New York 8a. New Jersey (if Murphy plays a lot) 8b. Charlotte
     
    west: 1. Portland 2. LA Lakers 3. San Antonio 4. Dallas 5. OKC 6. Houston 7. Denver 8. Golden State
     
    championship: Lakers over Heat. The Heat played so bad last night. By the end of the season they’ll have it rolling. The Lakers are too deep and too good. I really like Boston, and it would be hilarious to see Shaq v. Kobe for a another ring, but the Heat were still in that game last night, and nobody outside of Lebron played good. The Heat will be good I’m afraid.

  • Oct 27, 20104:59 pm
    by ds

    Reply

    @Laser – I tend to be an optimist, but I appreciate your comments. I’m not used to thinking of a team as assets / contracts, but that needs to be considered – and I agree, the Pistons don’t have contracts that will help us get better.
    And it’s a mess that if Stuckey or Bynum miss a game, that Tay or Daye cover for them when they are already covering for injured 4s…

  • Oct 27, 20105:00 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    Extending Prince made sense to me at one time, but Daye is ready to roll. Give him the job move Prince and let’s go. I’m ready to get this team situated. I’m not sure a trade will happen. It needs to, but it takes two to tango. I’d try to at least get a draft pick and another expiring for Prince. Flip him for another expiring scrub and a pick at the least, don’t just let him walk, and don’t resign him.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patrick Hayes, PistonPowered Feed. PistonPowered Feed said: Patrick Hayes’ 2010-11 season preview: Five Pistons predictions 1. Rip Hamilton will not lead the team in scoring…. http://bit.ly/aeI2ta [...]

  • Oct 27, 201010:48 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    did you guys watch the end of that game tonight with NJ. It was sad to see Avery Johnson school Q like that. You know he was thinking of that job interview/negociation while he exposed Dumar’s hire. Sad

    So now we know that we will be unable to keep Ben Wallace on the floor to finish games. And we know that Q is going to defer to the vets and play that small lineup were he moves Rip to the 3, Prince to the 4, and plays Stuckey & Ben Gordon at the guards. And we know that either by design or by lapse, the Pistons after moving the ball fairly well all game are going to revert to one on one isolations in the crunch. And we also know they don’t have a player good enough to do that unless it is Austin Daye.

    they made Favors look great in the second quarter – another athletic big torching the Pistons. But how about that kid Lopez? What great hands he has and how well he finishes while leaning toward the basket. Ben was working him over and mostly doing a fine job on D – Lopez is just too good.

  • Oct 27, 201011:13 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    this is one of the benefits of having an actual coach. in one sense i understand in theory that dumars didn’t want to make a major commitment to an expensive coach, but on the other hand, i don’t know how the team’s supposed to get going without one. this is such a non-traditional, mismatched AND bad lineup that i’d be surprised if anyone could turn it into a winner. but kuester has no hope. it would be nice if this team could just get going already, but no.
     
    also, the pistons were sort of a jekyll-and-hyde when it came to their offense tonight. one minute they’re sharing the ball LIKE CRAZY, passing and moving and passing again and moving constantly (to be honest, probably a bit too much of that, but it’s better than…) the next minute it’s all isos. this is because these players don’t have established roles. that’s not a bad thing if you have exceptionally talented and creative players, but we don’t.
     
    and your boy daye missed about thirty shots before his first make. he’s the nominal starter; he’ll be there at the beginning, but most nights he’ll be nowhere to be seen between the first time he sits and the second half. i hate when the pistons do that, and they’ve been doing that for a while now. just start charlie v already. but do yourself a favor and stop talking about him like he’s kevin durant; nobody will take you seriously.
     
    the one thing they did that i predicted (besides lose) is platoon max and ben. frankly, they don’t have any other options. but it means that as long as daye is one of your PFs, monroe won’t play. it would make more sense to play fewer guards, shift daye to the backup 3 spot and platoon monroe and cv at the 4. and for that very reason (that it makes sense) it won’t happen. thanks joe! thanks q! there won’t be a WHOLE lot of highly winnable games this season, but we sure were determined to letting this one slip away.
     
    oddly enough, the thing i liked most about this one, maybe the only thing i was actually impressed with, was T-MAC of all things! i mean, i still don’t know why he’s here, but i sure liked what he did. he stayed within himself for the most part, made good decisions with the ball. but if we’re going to play him, someone else needs to go. this was the first of many games that will confirm everything that’s wrong with this team, and in the backcourt it’s that there are too many guys who basically do the same thing. take stuckey for example. he had like 12 and 7 in the first half. he had like 14 and 7 for the game. no defined roles. everyone trying to do everything. somebody has to run the show, everyone needs to know what they’re supposed to be doing, and it’s not “everything.”

  • Oct 27, 201011:16 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    ah. and the cavs beat the celtics tonight. yes, the celts played last night, but don’t take this away from the cavs. i’ve said all along there’s no reason to believe they’ll be any worse than us, and it looks like they might be a LOT better.

  • Oct 28, 201012:00 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @nuetes:
    “The Spurs? Really? Is Taigo Splitter the difference?”
    I think Splitter is really good. And you’re right, they didn’t make any other additions really, but I think Blair and Hill are two young guys who can improve greatly this season. And Parker is in a contract year and coming off a bad season. I expect him to be really motivated. All depends on Ginobili staying healthy, but with Duncan, Splitter, Blair and McDyess, the Spurs have the bigs to compete with LA out West.
    I don’t know if they’ll win, but I would LOVE a Boston-SA finals. A dream for defensive-minded basketball enthusiasts.

  • Oct 28, 201012:03 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @PCB:
    “It was sad to see Avery Johnson school Q like that.”
    Kuester wasn’t perfect down the stretch. But he didn’t miss five of seven free throws down the stretch, and he didn’t let Harris dive past three Pistons to tap the ball out to Morrow for the game winning shot.
    Kuester didn’t lose the game. There were certainly things he did that I scratched my head about, but the Pistons players simply didn’t make a couple easy plays that should’ve sealed what would’ve been a nice road win.

  • Oct 28, 201012:06 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Laser:
    “the one thing they did that i predicted (besides lose) is platoon max and ben. frankly, they don’t have any other options. but it means that as long as daye is one of your PFs, monroe won’t play.”
    Maybe you’re right. But with a dominant post player like Lopez, Maxiell or Wallace had to be in the game at all times. I’m not sure that will be as great a necessity if they are playing a Bargnani-Evans or McGee-Blatche combo. Monroe will get into some games against frontcourts that don’t have a player that commands the attention Lopez does.

  • Oct 28, 201012:12 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Laser 2:
    As far as the Cavs, I’m holding off on them. With Mo Williams, Hickson, Jamison, Varejao, they can be solid. Not more than a 7 or 8 seed, but solid nonetheless. And I fully expect them to start the season strong after listening to a summer full of talk about them being a one-man show.
    But I also expect them to not be able to play at a high enough level all season to make the playoffs, and when it becomes apparent that they aren’t able to contend, I expect that they’ll shop high priced/low ceiling vets like Jamison and Williams at the deadline. I also think a line of contenders will line up to offer them good deals for Varejao, particularly a team like OKC that has a stockpile of draft picks and upside players who are stuck on the bench and have a great need for a big who defends like Varejao. I think people are on the Thunder too much (they still can’t beat LA), but Varejao would be a game changer for them.
    Cleveland’s not gonna get another superstar in free agency, especially after Gilbert’s letter fiasco. Best bet for them is to move their expensive assets, who do have value unlike Hamilton/Gordon/etc, and try to hit it big in the lottery again. They could end up with another Ohio native like Jared Sullenger.

  • Oct 28, 20109:14 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    @laser

    yeah, Daye didn’t look to good against Favors and he missed a few shots. I think he was nervous and playing out of position is not going to be good for him. Not sure that starting will be good for him either since he needs to be aggressive to be effective but running with all the vets will make him hesitent. He is really the fourth option on that unit.

    I think they should start CV at power forward. I pointed out that Max would take minutes from Cv as the season went along because he is their only defender off the bench. Now it looks like he will eat Daye’s minutes, not Cv’s. That would be fine except Daye has to play somewhere. What position is he going to get minutes at? He is blocked at the 2 and the 3

  • Oct 28, 20101:17 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    yes, pcb. by george you’ve got it! he doesn’t belong on that unit. he’s an offensive player who’s the fourth option. he’s going to be tentative playing out of position and with all those veterans. he might be “better” than charlie v, but there are a great many reasons he should not have been named the starter.
     
    as a young, developing, important player, he should not be played out of position. and as an offensive player, he should be no worse than a second or third option. and giving him the starting position gives him nowhere to go but down. demote him and you shake his confidence. also, when do you pull the plug? the job should have been charlie v’s. that way, if things go wrong, it’s not like the guy’s going to be rattled by another demotion. make the guy earn his salary. he shouldn’t be playing just 23 minutes, and we shouldn’t play daye at PF if it means monroe’s squeezed out. daye may be the better player there, too, but he’s not a PF.
     
    this is kind of depressing.

  • Oct 28, 20101:22 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @hayes: i dunno if there are too many teams where we can afford to have ZERO inside presence. from a balance standpoint, i think the platoon is the best option most nights.
     
    as for the cavs, i’m reserving judgment too. all i ever said is that there’s no reason to assume they’ll be worse than us. no reason in the world. look at their front line, their point play. they have good role players, everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing in the game. they have a coach! they have plenty. but as we saw last night, there could be a lot of teams in the east who’ve been written off who will be MUCH better than we are. 7-8 are up for grabs, but i don’t think the pistons have much of a chance. the cavs and nets on the other hand…

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