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John Hollinger’s praise of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and John Wall illustrates why the Pistons have invested so much in Rodney Stuckey

Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and John Wall are each better than Rodney Stuckey. I bet they will remain better than Stuckey for the rest of their careers, too.

Now that we have that out of the way, John Hollinger’s article praising Rose, Westbrook and Wall reminded me why the Pistons have invested so much in Stuckey.

The crux of Hollinger’s argument

And what’s unusual about this group is that they play the position much differently than the previous generations. Their older peers are mostly traditional, pick-and-roll point guards who succeed with quickness, guile and court vision.

These guys? Raw, unadulterated power. With awesome combinations of size and strength, they’re among the best finishers in basketball despite playing the point. They’re not great shooters and it doesn’t matter. They don’t have great court vision (though Wall has shown a lot of potential as a distributor; more on that below). That doesn’t matter, either. In today’s NBA, where the ability to beat opponents off the dribble is king and perimeter defenders can’t use their hands, burst and power are at a premium.

Forty-five “point guards” listed in DraftExpress’ database with weights and sprint times have been drafted in the first round since 2000.

Only 11 of them are above average among the group for both weight and sprint time.*

*Surprisingly, Tyreke Evans isn’t one.

Two are actually shooting guards (Dwyane Wade and O.J. Mayo). Three don’t crack 6 feet without shoes (Jameer Nelson, Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton). One is Jay Williams, who only played one season before injuring himself in a a motorcycle accident. Another is Jerryd Bayless, who has shown minimal point-guard ability.

The other four are Rose, Westbrook, Wall and Stuckey (denoted by their teams’ logos).

Like Wall (62.5 percent shooting at the rim, according to Hoopdata), Rose (58.6 percent) and Westbrook (52.4 percent), Stuckey (58.1 percent) is converting a high clip at the rim. That’s easily Stuckey’s career high, so we’ll see how whether it holds up.

Hollinger continues:

How much of a premium? Consider that Rose and Wall were the No. 1 picks in their respective drafts after just a year of college (after a generation in which point guards were almost never considered to be top-pick material), while Westbrook went fourth despite not even playing point guard as a collegian.

Stuckey was the 15th pick. Among the above-average, above-averagers, only Lawson (17th) and Jameer Nelson (20th) were picked lower. The Pistons got excellent value in acquiring their new-wave point guard.

Hollinger’s next point:

And the irony is that they end up doing a lot of damage with midrange jump shots. Opponents are so fearful of their blinding quickness off the dribble that they back up, go under screens and concede shots they’d never permit to almost any other opponent.

So while Rose, Westbrook and Wall live on the dynamic finishes at the rim, in between highlights they build up their numbers by hitting easy midrange jump shots, often shooting little more than a free throw with a defender still several feet off of them. You don’t have to be a great shooter to nail a high percentage of those shots.

Stuckey is shooting 46 percent on jumpers between 16 and 23 feet, according to Hoopdata – higher than Rose (43 percent), Westbrook (42 percent) and Wall (41 percent).

The key difference is Stuckey only makes 0.9 shots from that distance per game – fewer than Wall (2.6), Rose (2.0) and Westbrook (1.7).

Stuckey has obviously worked hard on his jumper. He’s shooting seven percentage points higher from that distance than his previous season high.

But he’s taking fewer shots from that distance than he ever has. Is he actually an improved jump-shooter, or is he just more selective? I’m not sure, but the answer probably determines how likely it is Stuckey can pad his scoring average from that distance like Rose, Westbrook and Wall.

Hollinger goes on to list the extra positives the three point guards have, and that’s where Stuckey falls short.

  • Rose has an extremely effective floater – 57.1 percent shooting on attempts within 10 feet, but not at the rim, and, by far, a point-guard-high 2.4 makes from that distance per game. Stuckey shoots just 26.7 percent from that distance.
  • Wall is a gifted passenger, averaging 9.6 assists per game. Stuckey averages just 6.3.
  • Westbrook pulls in 2.2 offensive rebounds per game.* Stuckey grabs just 0.8 per game.

*I question the value of them, considering the Thunder, although ranking 12th in pace, allowed the fifth-most fastbreak points per game, according to Team Rankings.

If Stuckey wants to make the leap the Rose-Wall-Westbrook level, he’ll have to develop another strength. Defense, perhaps?

Hollinger’s final point:

But with three such players entering the league in the past three years, and all making a huge impact almost immediately, one thing is for certain: Scouts will be looking high and low for the next one. With rules favoring point guards with the quickness to get a step to the rim and the size and explosiveness to finish, the power point guard phenomenon looks like it’s here to stay.

Maybe Stuckey, despite playing more NBA years than the other three, can still be the next “point guard phenomenon.”

Rose and Wall played for John Calipari in college. Westbrook played for Ben Howland. Stuckey played for Mike Burns. No offense to Burns, but there’s clearly a difference. Plus, the other three have been NBA starters from day one.

Stuckey obviously has a way to go, and it’s unlikely he’ll get there.

But it’s possible, in a couple years, Hollinger will write about Ian Miller trying to be the next Wall-Rose-Westbrook-Stuckey.


  • Nov 10, 201011:25 am
    by nuetes


    It feels strange talking about how good PG’s are that have never come close to winning a championship. Rose, Stuckey, and Westbrook are on perennial .500 finishers. OKC made a decent run last year, but they don’t have the talent to do it again. I said that in the preseason when everyone had them as 2nd to the Lakers type stuff for some reason. Wall on the other hand could be better than all of them because his passing ability is superior. He happens to be playing on a team with another one of these PG’s though – Arenas. Another guy on a perennial .500 finisher at best. It’s not that these PG’s aren’t good, it’s that they are all volume shooters. And none of them shoot a fairly high percentage. Rose is the best at putting the ball in the hoop. The rest are terrible, which hurts their teams.

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  • Nov 10, 201011:48 am
    by Glenn


    Thanks for the piece, it’s an interesting look at Stuckey vs. the new wave.

  • Nov 10, 20103:02 pm
    by Rodman4Life


    I agree with nuetes, what have any of these guys proved in the win column?  John Hollinger is a numbers pervert, and all of these players, especially Stuckey, look great on paper.  They are physical specimens with tremendous athleticism.  But when you get these kind of ball-hungry players at the point position, the rest of the team and the flow of the offense is subordinated to their “prowess.”  For a league of athletes, it seems risky to let Stuckey go, but are we really better if he stays?

  • Nov 10, 20103:04 pm
    by Rodman4Life


    what have any of these guys proven . . . .

    EEEIII criminy!

  • Nov 10, 20103:16 pm
    by detroitpcb


    stuckey outplayed Westbrook in the one game this year on both ends of the floor.

    have you guys seen the quotes from Tay and Q posted on hoopshype via twitter today?

    Prince says “even when we win it feels like we lost”

    and Q say “i can’t pinpoint the problem but we have to work harder at it”

    if that quote isn’t a reason for termination, i don’t know what is.

    and Prince is obviously not on board with losing. We need to ship him out. The team would be better with Daye at the 3 and a true 4 on the floor: Randolph, Smith, Kaman, anybody.

  • Nov 10, 20103:40 pm
    by Mike Payne


    This whole big, fast, penetrating and shoot-first point guard argument about “finishing” is not reflected statistically.  Russel Westbrook and Derrick Rose were not even amongst the top 25 point guards last season in FG% around the rim and Stuckey was in the terrible territory of the Duhons, the Arroyos of the league.
    Traditional, pass-first point guards have been better than the “new breed”, especially last season, where Andre Miller and Tony Parker were the only two non-traditional PGs who shot > 60% at the rim.
    If GMs are looking at speed and size to find point guards who can penetrate and finish, they’re 100% looking in the wrong places.  John Hollinger’s praise for these types of players is surprisingly, well, statistically ignorant in terms of what they are supposed to be good at.
    (As for Stuckey, 7 games doesn’t make for a healthy sample size, especially when only two of those 7 are pulling the numbers positive.)

  • Nov 10, 20108:05 pm
    by Laser


    leave it to numbers. the only thing in the world that puts stuckey in the same conversation as derrick rose and john wall. why do a point guard’s playmaking instincts mean nothing to some people?
    the only position you could say stuckey is even “above average” at is SG, so why keep him around as a do-nothing point guard? take him off the ball or ditch him. we’ve got SERIOUS commitments to rip and gordon. one of these three has to go. keeping stuckey to leave him at PG and take us nowhere would be like treating austin daye (who has yet to see a crunch time minute) as our PF of the future with an understanding he’ll never get any stronger.
    @rodman: haven’t you noticed feldman loves humbers? i don’t care for them, myself. numbers don’t lie, but in basketball they don’t tell CLOSE to the whole story. i can watch a game and get the whole story. the boxscore is good supplemental material, but it’s only occasionally useful. this isn’t baseball.
    @pcb: westbrook was one of two point guards of the eight we’ve played (a hobbled steph curry the other) who hasn’t dominated stuckey, and i don’t think stuckey won that battle. westbrook shot poorly for the game, but he got to the line more. so stuckey had 24 points on 18 shots (1.333 points per shot), while westbrook had 17 points on 13 shots (1.307 points per shot). so stuckey wins the points battle by volume, but he wasn’t much more efficient than westbrook. he had a good one-on-one game, but westbrook racked up: one offensive rebound, two extra assists, two steals and a W. plus, in the fourth quarter, stuckey had just one assist and 4 points on 3 shots (two of them blocked) as the pistons isolation played themselves into a loss.
    love the prince quote, and he’s right. the pistons haven’t deserved a W yet. atlanta was the closest they’ve come to earning one, but ther never had a chance.
    kuester is a dud. that’s the worst quote i ever heard from a coach. and i watched a lot of michael curry postgame. hard to blame him for not making this roster a winner, easy to blame him for us being THIS bad.

  • Nov 10, 20108:21 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    “haven’t you noticed feldman loves humbers? i don’t care for them, myself.”
    That’s the understatement of the year.
    Numbers weren’t the overarching point of this post. The bigger point is that Stuckey, athletically, fits the bill of the strong, big, fast, explosive PG that is in style right now. Stuckey is every bit as strong and athletic as those three mentioned. Feldman points out throughout that he doesn’t think Stuckey is as good. He’s saying that he understands why the Pistons have invested so much time hoping Stuckey can get things right.
    On sheer athletic ability, I don’t know how anyone can argue Stuckey isn’t in the conversation with those guys. Not the prospect that those other guys are anymore, but Rose and Westbrook in particular were picked where they were in the draft because they were phenomenal athletes, not basketball players. Hell, Westbrook didn’t even play a position at UCLA. They had no idea what he was. And he was a top five pick. Rose was a No. 1 pick. Stuckey offered the same upside as them and he was a mid-first rounder.

  • Nov 10, 201011:36 pm
    by Scary_Curtis_Rowe_flashbacks


    I question the value of any assumptions that put Chris Paul in the losers’ quadrant.

  • Nov 11, 201012:51 am
    by nuetes


    Since D-Wade isn’t a PG he’s disqualified and the losers quadrant is actually the top-right quadrant. Therefore Chris Paul is not in the losers quadrant. Looking at the names the players you really want to stay away from are in the lower right quadrant, followed by the upper right quadrant. Hmm. I guess that means you want to stay away from PG’s with faster sprint times.

  • Nov 11, 20103:21 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Nuetes and Rodman4life, I’m not against looking for “winners,” but I think that’s an overrated measure, especially here. These players have been in the league a combined six years. That’s not a fair chance to win a title They were all picked in the top half of the first round, too. Most teams get pick that high by being bad. None of these players is experienced enough or has the supporting cast to know if they’ll be winners.

  • Nov 11, 20103:22 am
    by Dan Feldman


    DetroitPCB, coaches and players say things they don’t mean to the media all the time. He gave a brush-off answer because he didn’t want to talk about it. The last time he gave an honest answer about the lack of leadership from players, they rebelled against him.

  • Nov 11, 20103:37 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Mike Payne, do you really believe Miller and Parker are better at scoring at the rim than Westbrook and Rose? If you’ve watched any of the four play, you should know they’re not. Sure, they have a higher field-goal percentage at the rim, but that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.

    Westbrook and Rose took more shots at the rim than Miller and Parker. Obviously, your percentage will go up when you can afford to be more selective. Miller, and to a lesser extent Parker, only went to the rim when they had a clear path.

    Most players have a shot they can make at a high clip, but there are plenty of possessions where the defense takes that away from all five players. Then what? You have to give the ball to someone and hope they make a tough play. In that situation, would you rather have Westbrook and Rose or Parker and Miller attack the rim. I think the answer is clearly Westbrook and Rose, and that lowers their field-goal percentages, but it gives their teams the best chance of scoring.

    The other factor is 3-point shooting, which opens lanes to the basket. The Spurs and Trail Blazers were above-average 3-point shooting teams last year. The Thunder ranked 25th, and the Bulls were 28th.

    If you put Rose and Westbrook in Parker’s and Miller’s roles, I’m confident the first two would make a higher percentage at the rim than the latter two.

    As for Stuckey, yes, seven games is a small sample size. But you can see a difference in his game.

    He’s always had the first step, the size and the speed. But inexplicably, he always finished poorly at the rim.

    There are tangible reasons he’s better now. He’s lost weight. He’s dunking more.

    Obviously, a lot can change in the next 74 games, but watching him shows this probably isn’t a fluke.

  • Nov 11, 20103:39 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Laser, Stuckey might be a fine shooting guard, but he has the most potential at point guard. Shoot for the moon. Stuckey at shooting guard won’t be a game-changer. Stuckey at point guard might be. Why not try (especially with this roster, as you love to point out)?

  • Nov 11, 20103:41 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Scary_Curtis_Rowe_flashbacks, I was surprised to see that, too. He’s certainly quicker than his combine time indicates. (Obviously, those are far from a be-all, end-all. But that’s all that’s available, and when we’re mostly talking about young players, I think they’re relevant enough.)

  • Nov 11, 20108:10 am
    by detroitpcb



    i think Prince was saying exactly what he believes. That was not a brush off quote. And for a coach to admit that he has no clue why his players are performing so poorly……….maybe he just didn’t want to answer the question but he always speaks in worn out phrases anyway so i suspect he meant it.

    It might behove him to put Ben Gordon back in the starting lineup.

    Stuckey looked better at the point in that GS game. He is finishing better and starting to get calls at the rim – both positive signs. I would not trade him and would definitely resign him but i still like his future at the 2 guard.


    you want will bynum to start at the point? talk about an ugly game – bynum has looked terrible so far. And i don’t want to see T-Mac at the point and watch the track meet going in the other direction after a missed shot. For now, Stuckey is the best we have.

    i was at that game (you pulling the numbers now) and i watched that matchup closely. You are right about Stuckey’s play at the end of the game but he dominated Westbrook the rest of that game on both ends even if the numbers don’t fully reflect it.

  • Nov 11, 201010:45 am
    by nuetes


    I don’t think 6 years is an unfair amount of time. Gilbert Arenas has been in the league for plenty of seasons. He’s basically the model for these guys. And it’s not that they aren’t good players, it’s their efficiency. It’s not going to help a team win. Guys like Parker, Rondo, Paul, Nash, and Miller etc. Those guys routinely shoot around 50% from the field.
    The new breed of PG’s are volume shooters with more athleticism than shooting ability. Arenas is a career 42% shooter. Westbrook and Stuckey are 41% career shooters. Wall and Rose are shooting 44% this season, and they both lead their teams in shots. For comparisons the Wizards are shooting 45% as a team and the Bulls 48% as a team, since Wall and Rose are both shooting below their team’s averages they are hurting their teams by leading them in attempts. The Wiz and Bulls are therefore worse off with those two leading them in shots and scoring.
    Get back to me when any player playing any position that can’t shoot and leads his team in attempts is on a successful team. Allen Iverson is the only one I can think of, and the Sixers weren’t successful for long.

  • Nov 11, 20101:57 pm
    by Oats


    @ nuetes. First of all, it is a combined 6 years for them. I’m not certain if you caught that or not. Westbrook and Rose have 2 years experience. Stuckey technically has 3, but only 2 as a starter. If you count his rookie season, he’d get credit for the last Billups year, which we both know is unfair. So, those guys not winning in 2 years a piece as starting point guards means it is fair to criticize them for not winning? Or are you arguing it based solely off Arenas? If so, even you have to admit that Wizards management hasn’t been exactly superb during Arenas’s career.
    By the way, it’s funny you bring up efficiency. FG% is a flawed method of determining a player’s efficiency. It doesn’t account for fouls. I know the miss on a foul doesn’t count against the shooter, while a make would, but that isn’t what I mean. FG% doesn’t give the player credit for the points he scores at the line. This is especially important for evaluating Westbrook this season, seeing as how he is taking 9 FTs a game, and hitting 90% of them. Admittedly it is only 7 games, and those numbers will come down some, but if he can keep it above 7 FTs a game he will be an efficient player. True Shooting % is an attempt to account for FTs and 3 point attempts when looking at FG%, and in my opinion does a much better job showing a player’s efficiency. He has a respectable 55.7 TS%, despite shooting only 43.9% from the floor. That is actually better than the 54.2 TS% Tony Parker had last year when he shot 48.7% from the field but only took 4.4 FTs a game. A player absolutely can be efficient while shooting a low FG%, if they take and hit a large number of free throws. That doesn’t even consider the fringe benefits of all these fouls, such as getting the other team in foul trouble, which tends to lead to softer defense, and the bonus leads to even more free throws.
    I would also argue Chicago and Washington are shooting that high of a percentage in part because of Rose and Wall shooting so much. Teams have to account for those guys, and defenses have to leave their man to help guard them, leading to easy assists. I’m not convinced their low shooting percentage is hurting the team, at least not much. While not definitive by any means, their high assist totals suggests that there may be some merit to my argument.
    Oh, just for the fun of it, in 08-09 Carmelo Anthony shot 44.3% from the floor, but the Nuggets won 54 games and made the Western Conference Finals. Admittedly a one year anomaly, but the point is he shot a lot and with that same 44% number you complained about Wall and Rose shooting. He did have a 53.2 TS% that year. In fairness though, his team did also go 9-7 without him that year. They were a pretty good team even without Melo, but better with him.

  • Nov 11, 20104:09 pm
    by nuetes


    That’s a good argument for them, but that’s not quite what I was arguing. FG% is a reflection of the shots that they take, and a missed shot is essentially a turnover. It’s a wasted possession. Jump shots aren’t likely to draw fouls. Yes they draw fouls on their drives, and that’s a reflection of their athleticism not their shooting ability. So yeah if all of them decided never to take a jumper again they would all be much more valuable to their teams.
    TS% doesn’t reflect wasted possessions like FG% does. If a player is fouled during a miss the shot doesn’t count against his FG%. The shot is considered never taken, but he shoots free throws. Only and1 shots are registered as attempts.
    As far as eFG%, which better reflects the value of shots, Anthony registered a 47% eFG% during the 54 win year. By comparison Westbrook and Stuckey have career eFG% of 42% each. Rose has a 44% eFG% this season. So while Anthony was still wasting possessions by missing shots, his makes are more valuable because he can shoot 3′s while the super-PG’s can’t.

  • Nov 11, 20104:41 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    “a missed shot is essentially a turnover. It’s a wasted possession.”
    What if it leads to an offensive rebound? The Bulls have Noah and the Thunder have Ibaka and Jeff Green, all active guys who crash the offensive glass. Sometimes the best shots a team will get come off of misses that lead to offensive boards. Not every team can count on those plays, but if they are a good offensive rebounding team or have good offensive rebounding player, missed shots are nowhere near as bad as a turnover or wasted possession.

  • Nov 11, 20105:07 pm
    by Laser


    @feldman: how long are we going to judge stuckey by his “potential?” will we still be trumpeting all this potential when he’s 28? 31? at some point you look at a player and you know who he is. in stuckey’s case, we’ve all seen enough. he’s a scorer. there isn’t a playmaking bone in his body. physical tools are MEANINGLESS to a point guard if he can’t run the offense.
    and, if i’m perfectly honest, your obsession with numbers is a bit troubling. numbers are so deceptive in basketball. someone as involved as you are in numbers AND basketball should realize that. it doesn’t take a genius to look at the chicago game and see that when rose entered the game to close it out at the 6 minute mark, he’d been waiting and watching, planning a way to close it out. and that’s precisely what he did. stuckey, on the other hand, was just waiting for his number to be called. he came in, was just another player, and we lost.
    you’re a smart guy. watch the games, judge things for yourself. no sense obfuscating things with a bunch of numbers that don’t amount to anything in real life. we all know why the pistons have invested so much in stuckey: they misevaulated his ability and potential (probably using similar standards as you) and jumped the gun.
    here’s some fun irony i’ll probably repeat elsewhere, but this one’s a gem: we get stuckey, and he’s a standout as a sixth man/backup PG, so we see him as a cheap alternative to chauncey and blow this thing up. flash forward to the moment where we’ve got to decide if he’s going to get an extension, and yes there’s the issue of the new CBA looming, but the bottom line is that stuckey has yet to be what we need him to be, and he
    @nuetes/hayes: a BAD shot can essentially be a turnover. not all misses, but bad ones, definitely. they highlighted one such shot on NBAtv the other day. marcus camby put up a baseline 15-footer with four white jerseys underneath the basket. wouldn’t have been a problem if he hit the shot, but he missed it, and there was NO chance for an offensive board. that was a perfect example, but it happens all the time.

  • Nov 11, 20105:11 pm
    by Laser


    forgot to finish my bit on stuckey: …and he’s on the cusp of being an EXPENSIVE player. someone is going to offer him a rich contract to be their shooting guard/backup PG. so all these years where stuckey’s supposed to be a “cheap” alternative to chauncey, he’s been anything but a “replacement,” and he’s got one more season of being “cheap.” so, uh… good work there, joe.

  • Nov 11, 20105:43 pm
    by nuetes


    yes an offensive rebound can negate a missed shot, but if it’s put back in your at 50% shooting. one miss and one make. a missed shot rebounded by the other team is a turnover.
    and since i just looked it up – OKC o-reb%: 27.1%; CHI o-reb%: 26.5%; DET o-reb%: 26.8%. and for giggles WAS o-reb%: 22.1%, and seeing as how they have Wall and Arenas jacking up shots I guess they are hurting the worst. In fact OKC, CHI, and DET are the best o-rebounding teams in the league.
    I still don’t know how that excuses players from taking bad shots, but it lessons the blow a tad.

  • Nov 11, 20106:00 pm
    by Laser


    @pcb: bynum’s not 100%, but i’d still start him. plus, he’s been relegated to such a minor role it’s insane. 13 minutes isn’t a lot of time to operate, and i don’t think he has any better of an idea what his role will be on a given night than you or i could. look at stuckey’s game last night! 2 AST, utterly useless. all he could do when we needed a bucket was force up a bunch of shots with mixed results. nobody on this team has “defined” roles, but stuckey has about as defined a role as anyone besides big ben. he knows exactly what’s expected of him, when he’ll be playing, what his role SHOULD be. and he still can’t deliver. i think bynum at least deserves the chance at a few games where this is “his” team. stuckey’s had that chance for years now, and he’s done nothing with it. may as well give bynum a look. he’s got a good record as a starter with major minutes.

  • [...] This is an absolutely terrific post from PistonPowered, comparing Rodney Stuckey to John Wall, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. Before you start [...]

  • Nov 12, 20109:03 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    I was a big proponent of Bynum starting, but I think he’s obviously not healthy. His last couple preseason games, he didn’t look as quick and he’s looked worse in the regular season. i think he’s potentially a better playmaker than Stuckey if healthy, but he just doesn’t look good right now.

  • I said that in the preseason when everyone had them as 2nd to the Lakers type stuff for some reason. Wall on the other hand could be better than all of them because his passing ability is superior. He happens to be playing on a team with another one of these PG’s though – Arenas. Another guy on a perennial .500 finisher at best. It’s not that these PG’s aren’t good, it’s that they are all volume shooters. And none of them shoot a fairly high percentage. Rose is the best at putting the ball in the hoop. The rest are terrible, which hurts their teams.

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