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The Big Question: John Kuester

With a cloud uncertainty thunder-storming, snowing and hailing on the Detroit Pistons, we wanted our Pistons preview series to capture that. So for each Piston, Patrick Hayes and I will identify and explain what we each see as the biggest question surrounding him entering the season.

DF: Will he develop a more creative offense?

In his Pistons season preview, John Hollinger wrote Detroit’s biggest strength was one-on-one scoring:

One thing we know about the Pistons is they’ll be able to find matchups they like and isolate for shots. Detroit’s lineup will be chock full of scoring at positions 1 through 4, with Wallace in the middle to clean up any misses.

Moreover, Stuckey and Prince are two of the better post-up players at their positions, allowing them to exploit size mismatches for close-in shots. Hamilton and Gordon can score in isolation as well, although they prefer to do their work off the ball and score off the catch. Bynum adds similar skills as an energizer off the bench. One other player to watch in this regard is second-year pro Daye, who is 6-11 with a sweet J that he can release over most defenders.

At the 4, Monroe and Villanueva can provide a different threat against opposing big men unaccustomed to playing on the perimeter. Moreover, their outside skills will help provide some space for the others to do their damage.

Kuester probably will have to run the offense this way, even if it’s a tad boring. (And man, these guys were hard on the eyes last season.) With no skilled passers in the backcourt, no outright stars and four players of roughly equal offensive skill on the court at most times, Kuester will do best to focus on attacking the opponent’s weak link.

I actually agree with Hollinger that this type of offense would be more productive than most fans think. But it’s taking the easy way out. An isolation-heavy offense, unless you have an offensive star the Pistons don’t, wont be great. It can be enough to get by, but it certainly won’t rank among the league’s best offenses.

If Kuester can show some imagination and design a gameplan that involves moving the ball more to create easy shots, that will be a significant way he can demonstrate his ability as a head coach.

PH: Can he prove he’s not George Irvine?

Pistons fans know the story with Irvine — he was a nice, respectable coach who the players didn’t hate and who got a team that was in transition in 2000-01 to play reasonably hard while not winning many games. The Pistons have to figure out if Kuester — a likable and respected coach — is a stopgap or if he can be around long-term based on how he performs with his full compliment of players.

7 Comments

  • Oct 8, 20101:27 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    I figured from the get-go that Kuester was a stop-gap coach. That is why it was wise to pass on Avery Johnson or another big name coach. Save the cash and hire a coach to get by until the roster gets turned around. The Pistons have done a poor job at exploiting mismatches, or even forcing switches to get mismatches. Not sure when Stuckey became a good post-up player either. I’m indifferent on Kuester because the roster is such a mess that the coaching isn’t going to make a huge difference at this point. Kind of like Schwartz gets a free pass for attempting to coach the Lions roster I give Kuester a free pass for his attempt at coaching this hodge-podge roster of guards and small forwards. In the end I have to blame the talent more than the coaching, but that’s not to say the coaching couldn’t be better, it’s just not the difference.

  • Oct 8, 20101:44 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    Agree with nuetes – not sure that Stuckey even has a post up game. Let’s be eal: Q has no clue. The Pistons do not really do anything intentional on offense. Not sure i would give him a free pass but obviously this roster lacks a player that demands double teams or a player good enough in isolation that you can count on them.

    Still, the younger players would like to rebound and get up the floor in transition. The vets want to walk it up and play half court. Q has sided with the vets. Personally i think it is the wrong decision, especially since the offense he has designed for the half court doesn’t seem to work.

  • Oct 8, 20101:44 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    Agree with nuetes – not sure that Stuckey even has a post up game. Let’s be real: Q has no clue. The Pistons do not really do anything intentional on offense. Not sure i would give him a free pass but obviously this roster lacks a player that demands double teams or a player good enough in isolation that you can count on them.

    Still, the younger players would like to rebound and get up the floor in transition. The vets want to walk it up and play half court. Q has sided with the vets. Personally i think it is the wrong decision, especially since the offense he has designed for the half court doesn’t seem to work.

  • Oct 8, 20102:07 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @pcb and @nuetes:

    Rick Carlisle’s first team didn’t have anyone who demanded a double team or was great in iso situations either.

    I think Kuester was hired with the hope that he’d be like Carlisle — a veteran assistant who would preach toughness, effort and defense and get the most out of a team that lacks talent. Basically, someone who would help the team improve and learn a good fundamental foundation of what Detroit basketball is, even if he wasn’t going to be the long term coach. Obviously, he hasn’t been any of those things, hence the Irvine comparison.

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  • Oct 8, 20102:33 pm
    by Zeiram

    Reply

    I´m with nuetes here too at this point what coach you have doesn´t matter because you can´t go anywhere with this roster. Sure there are some who will stay and could play an important part in a servicable team but some who certainly won´t be there for the long run. I would say it is about developing the youngsters at this point mostly but that´s up to the assistants and Kuester at least isn´t a rookie hater.
    It pains me to say that I have no hope for a team who´s starting five is 3/5 of my most beloved team ever but sadly that´s the truth.
    I will still watch the pistons next year even as I keep some side lovers (mainly the Bucks) if only to appreciate Big Ben as long as he still plays. But besides that I don´t see much to gain for the pistons next season. They are in the pacers hell too bad to be meaningful to good to improve.

  • Oct 8, 20102:52 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Zeiram:
    I don’t know if he’s a rookie hater, but he obviously didn’t play Daye or Summers much last year.
    And I get that the Pistons didn’t want to pay top dollar for a coach when they are rebuilding. That makes sense. But we have to stop saying “it doesn’t matter who coaches the team.”
    It absolutely does matter, particulary with guys like Monroe, Jerebko, Daye, Gordon, White, Bynum and maybe even Stuckey, all guys who could potentially be around for a while. Even if Kuester isn’t the long term coach, these are still impressionable years in the league for those players. You want them around a coach who is at least challenging them, teaching them how to get better and teaching them how to be successful NBA players. I don’t know whether or not Kuester is doing those things behind the scences, but it is of vital importance whether they are winning games right now or not.

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