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Archive → December, 2010

Allen Iverson caused Pistons to not order any Tracy McGrady jerseys

In a series of tweets, Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed quickly answered my call for an explanation about why the Pistons didn’t order any Tracy McGrady jerseys:

@PistonPowered They make their orders before the season starts from the NBA..they have a quota. They’ll custom one but didn’t order any.

@PistonPowered I know someone who’s been working in the Store for years.

@PistonPowered Literally thought it was going to be an Iverson all over again, I even talked about it on a podcast.

There you have it.

I think the lesson Allen Iverson should have been to order fewer jerseys, not none.

Why aren’t the Detroit Pistons selling Tracy McGrady jerseys?

From Piston.com’s Keith Langlois’ mailbag:

Scott (Sterling Heights, Mich.): Where can I find Tracy McGrady’s jersey for sale?

Langlois: There are currently no Pistons McGrady jerseys, Scott, and no plans to order any. It would be unusual for a team to stock jerseys of players who come to a team on a one-year contract. If McGrady finishes the season strong here and then re-signs a multiyear deal over the summer, I would expect McGrady jerseys to be stocked at Locker Room stores next season.

This makes no sense to me. It looks like the Pistons are wasting a big opportunity to make money.

I understand they shouldn’t bother stocking jerseys for most players on one-year contracts. But Tracy McGrady isn’t most players.

Can anyone explain this one?

Fourth quarter rally spurred by Tracy McGrady falls short in overtime in Pistons loss to Bulls

Two games into the latest turn in the Detroit Pistons’ shooting guard drama, the answer at the position might not be Ben Gordon or Rip Hamilton.

Tracy McGrady‘s performances continue to get better and better, and in Sunday’s overtime 95-92 loss to the Chicago Bulls, it was McGrady who helped the Pistons tie the game with a fourth quarter flurry.

McGrady either scored or assisted on 16 of Detroit’s 28 fourth quarter points as the team outscored Chicago 28-17 to erase a double-digit second half lead.

Early in the season, McGrady was not getting any lift in his jumper. Over the last few weeks, however, his shot has returned and in the fourth quarter against the Bulls, 11 of his 13 points came on jumpers 16-feet out or beyond. It was the third time in the last five games McGrady has scored more than 15 points and he’s shooting well over 50 percent in that stretch.

Gordon, meanwhile, had his second straight quiet game since being given the starting job over Hamilton, although he did shoot it better this time, going 3-for-6 against the Bulls as opposed to 1-for-7 against Toronto. Hamilton was solid, scoring 15 off the bench on 6-of-14 shooting.

But even at their best, Hamilton and Gordon are only going to give the team scoring. McGrady, even a step slower than previously in his career, is still the best and most willing playmaker on the Pistons. When he’s in the game, the ball moves better, there’s more movement by players who don’t have the ball and McGrady rarely takes a bad shot that’s not within the flow of the offense. Hamilton, Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and even Will Bynum have a tendency to take really poor shots on occasion that disrupt the offense when they’re in the game. Hamilton and Gordon will never be the passers or playmakers McGrady is showing he can still be from the perimeter.

McGrady’s purpose on the Pistons is unclear, as it has been from the moment the team signed him. The Pistons didn’t really have a spot for him. But what is becoming crystal clear is the fact that McGrady, whether he has a future in Detroit or not, is steadily becoming the best player on the team. If John Kuester is truly thinking about wins and playoffs as the means to save his job, I don’t know how much longer he can afford to play McGrady in a limited role.

Villanueva hitting the boards

After a pretty bad start to the season rebounding (at least by traditional power forward standards), Charlie Villanueva is picking up the pace a bit. Villanueva sent the game to overtime with a tip-in of a Hamilton miss with less than a second remaining and he finished with 10 boards in the game. He’s averaging eight a game over his last five, and although those certainly aren’t elite defensive big man numbers, they’re certainly another positive sign for the one Piston who has shown drastic improvement from last year both in production and effort on the court. Villanueva has consistently had the best attitude of any Piston this season, and he continues to prove that his signing wasn’t the mistake many thought it was at this time a year ago.

But the bad news …

I can’t praise the rebounding, even of an individual player, too much considering Bulls point guard Derrick Rose had more boards than any Piston with 12. The Pistons frontcourt also continued its tradition of giving up a huge game to an interior player. Carlos Boozer torched them for 31 points. Boozer is just the latest in the line of David Wests, David Lees, Joakim Noahs, Andrea Bargnani’s, etc. who have met little resistance in the paint this season.

On deck

This could be another stretch that buries the Pistons further under the .500 mark (not that it matters in the East, where winning 36 percent of your games could get you in the playoffs). After facing Charlotte tomorrow, the Pistons are home against Boston, then at Phoenix, at Utah and at the Lakers. Unless they get the Bobcats, this could turn into another prolonged losing streak pretty quickly.

Will Joakim Noah’s absence help the Pistons be more competitive on the boards vs. Chicago?

Essentials

Teams: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons

Date: Dec. 26, 2010

Time: 6 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Pistons: 10-19

Bulls: 18-10

Probable starters

Pistons:

Bulls:

  • Derrick Rose
  • Keith Bogans
  • Luol Deng
  • Kurt Thomas
  • Carlos Boozer

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +3.5

Over/under: 192

Score: Bulls win, 97.75-94.25

Three things to watch

1. Christmas impact?

It has been pretty well-documented over the last week or so that NBA teams don’t seem to be all that fond of playing on Christmas Day. Well, not only did the Bulls play yesterday, losing to New York, but they have the second half of a back-to-back today in Detroit. Hopefully the Pistons can catch Chicago looking ahead to getting a little holiday time.

2. No Noah

Joakim Noah had 15 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first game against the Bulls this season. Last season, he had rebounding games of 21, 14 and 11 against the Pistons. So the fact that Noah will not play should hopefully mean the Pistons won’t get pounded on the glass as hard as they normally do against Chicago.

3. The bench brigade take two

Rip Hamilton took exception to his demotion by, uh, actually playing hard. I’m sure most people watched Hamilton’s 35-point performance against Toronto and had similar sentiments: if he’d played even close to that well as a starter, with that kind of effort and taking good shots within the offense, his spot as a starter would never be in doubt. I don’t want to hear the “he needs a Billups-like playmaker next to him” line. He’s the highest paid player on the team, he’s still obviously in good shape even if he’s getting older and he still knows the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. I guess we’ll see if Hamilton’s scoring outburst was a one-game middle finger to the coaching staff for benching him or if it’s going to be the start of a stretch of prolonged good play to earn his starting spot back.

Pregame Reading

  • Brian Packey previews the game for Detroit Bad Boys
  • What should LeBron James do? Should he not sell out his own union?
  • Speaking of James: his triple-double on Christmas yesterday was the first Christmas Day triple-double since Billy Cunningham of the 76ers had one in 1970 against your very own Detroit Pistons.

Spears: Richard Hamilton might push for a trade soon, Pistons compliant

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

Pistons guard Rip Hamilton is growing increasingly frustrated with his new role coming off the bench and could push for a trade soon, sources said. The Pistons have been open to trading Hamilton for a while, but his contract and age have tempered the interest from potential suitors.

DaJuan Summers on Austin Daye: ‘That boy’s talented’ – at singing

The Pistons made another holiday video, but the real treat is seeing them dissect it. Props to The Score’s Brad James for getting the Pistons’ thoughts on the video.

DaJuan Summers, who bragged about hitting the high notes, also doled out credit. “That boy’s talented” Summers said Austin Daye’s solo act.

But my favorite moment of James’ interview came at the 1:23 mark, with Jason Maxiell’s response and the subsequent clip.

Richard Hamilton’s mission proves beneficial for himself and the Pistons

Richard Hamilton closed his postgame interview with Eli Zaret tonight the same way he’s ended hundreds of interviews – “Yessir!” But as Hamilton walked toward the locker room, something was missing. Unlike nearly all those previous Yessirs!, this one wasn’t paired with a smile.

This was all business.

I hope Hamilton can outwardly enjoy basketball again, but Hamilton On A Mission works right now. Hamilton On A Mission is the persona Rip needed to adapt now, and it’s the persona the Pistons need him to adapt now.

  • HOAM scored 35 points – more than any reserve has scored this season.*
  • HOAM deferred to Tracy McGrady at the right times.
  • HOAM sparked a 115-93 victory over the Raptors.

*Topping Ben Gordon’s mark of 32 against the Thunder

Those first two bullets really exemplify what’s great about HOAM.* He’s not on a mission to prove he can still produce. He’s on a mission to prove he can still produce enough to lead the Pistons to wins. Hamilton has forced too many shots this season, but he didn’t do that tonight. That might help him pad his numbers, but it won’t help the Pistons win, and HOAM was only interested in doing things that helped himself and the team.

*Not that the third isn’t important, but the Raptors played as poorly as I’ve seen a team play this season.

And boy was it a good thing HOAM was willing to play within the flow of the game, because he wasn’t even the best Piston tonight. That honor goes to McGrady.

McGrady had shown signs of this before, but they were only brief spurts – a few minutes here, a few minutes there. Tonight, he kept coming and coming. His second quarter buried the Raptors, and the game was never in doubt after halftime.

In just 24 minutes, McGrady had 17 points (8-of-12 shooting), seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. As the Toronto crowd booed him, McGrady just played better. He even shot .500 for the first time as a visitor in Toronto. I’ve said this several times, and I’ve believed it each time, but this was McGrady’s best game as a Piston.

The offense runs so much smoother with McGrady in the game. He makes the right decision nearly every time, and now that he’s getting into better shape, he can parlay those correct decisions into points more often. There’s no doubt Hamilton benefited from playing almost all his minutes with McGrady – more so than McGrady benefited from playing with Hamilton.

But with all eyes on Hamilton, he delivered. McGrady’s performance was nice. Hamilton’s might be franchise-altering.

This was just one game, and there will be many more tests. But Hamilton can only meet the challenge in front of him, and he did that with flying colors tonight.

Richard Hamilton begins new life as bench player tonight against Raptors

Essentials

Teams: Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors

Date: Dec. 22, 2010

Time: 7 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Pistons: 9-19

Raptors: 10-18

Probable starters

Pistons:

Raptors:

  • Jerryd Bayless
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Sonny Weems
  • Amir Johnson
  • Andrea Bargnani

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +5.5

Over/under: 207.5

Score: Raptors win, 106.5-101

Three things to watch

1. Richard Hamilton coming off the bench

Richard Hamilton is entering a new stage of his career – being a bench player. All eyes will be on him tonight to see how he handles it.

2. New starting lineup

Starting Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva worked against the Hornets after some early kinks. Will the new starters gel better than the previous ones? We’ll get a better, although I’m sure still incomplete, look tonight.

3. Tracy McGrady’s return to Toronto

It seems like half these game previews mention Tracy McGrady returning to a city, but no city hates him more than Toronto.

He hasn’t fared well there, either. In 12 games at Toronto as a member of the visiting team, McGrady hasn’t shot .500 once.

Pregame Reading

Pistons can share blame for team’s low free-throw percentage, but Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace are struggling more than usual

The Pistons’ 111-108 overtime victory against the Hornets on Sunday might not have been so dramatic if Detroit made more than 13-of-23 free throws. But that’s not a new problem for the Pistons, who rank 25th in free-throw percentage (.732).

Why do the Pistons fair so poorly in free-throw percentage? If each Piston had shot his career average on his attempts this season, Detroit would rank 14th (.761).

So, who deserves blame?

Percentage differences

Seven Pistons – DaJuan Summers, Tracy McGrady, Greg Monroe,* Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Charlie Villanueva – are shooting below their career free-throw percentage.

*To find Monroe’s career percentage, I included his attempts at Georgetown. I’m not sure how relevant they are, but I did it anyway. On one hand, it’s an aspect the game not directly influenced by the competition. Indirectly, though, exerting more energy to compete against NBA players could lower his free-throw-percentage.

Career percentages are blue, and season percentages are red.


Relative makes

The above chart doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Because of their limited minutes, Chris Wilcox’s percentage bump and DaJuan Summers’ percentage decline don’t have a large impact on the team’s percentage.

So, this chart accounts for how many attempts a player has gotten this year.

The blue is the number of free throws each player would have made had he shot his career percentage this year, and the red is the number of free throws he’s actually made.


Relative attempts

Another factor in the team’s percentage is who’s getting to the line.

I compared each player’s career free-throw attempts per minute (his expected attempts) relative to his free-throw attempts and minutes this season.

Players in blue are shooting above Detroit’s season free-throw percentage, and players in red are shooting above it.


Conclusions

  • The Pistons poor free-throw shooters – Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace – have been even more abysmal than usual.
  • Tracy McGrady, whose career percentage says he should lift the Pistons’ percentage, isn’t getting to the line nearly as much as he did before, and he isn’t shooting as well as he did before. Because of his knee issues, there’s no way he’ll get as many attempts, but I think he could make a higher percentage.
  • Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Will Bynum – each a better free-throw shooter than the Pistons’ average – aren’t getting to the line enough per minute.
  • Rodney Stuckey has done the most to help Detroit’s percentage.

Greg Monroe remains No. 7 in David Thorpe’s rookie rankings

Greg Monroe remained No. 7 in the latest edition of David Thorpe’s rookie rankings:

Simply put, Monroe is finishing shots that he was missing in November, making over 56 percent of his field goals this month after hitting just 35.4 percent last month.

The game is slowing down for him and he’s using his size and length more effectively. Next up? Block more shots. He hasn’t had more than two blocks in a game thus far (and he’s had only two blocks twice).