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Tracy McGrady seems to be angling for an expanded role

On Sunday, Tracy McGrady had his best performance as a Piston, scoring 13 points and shooting the ball well in a double OT loss to the Knicks.

On Tuesday, McGrady was non-existent on the court in the Pistons loss to Orlando.

There’s a good explanation for this, apparently. Against the Knicks, McGrady scored all 13 of his points in the second quarter, when the Pistons were running their offense through him. From Vince Ellis of the Free Press:

McGrady’s best moments as a Piston have come when he is running the offense through pick-and-roll situations or isolations — the stuff Wade and James used to reach superstar status.

A prime example was McGrady’s 13-point second quarter in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Knicks.

“That’s just the type of player that I am,” McGrady said before Tuesday night’s game against the Magic. “In order for me to do that consistently, I need to be involved as I was in that game — in that second quarter.”

As we saw against Orlando, McGrady was not that involved in the offense when he was in the game, something he told Ellis he’s not comfortable doing.

McGrady’s made news the last few weeks for proclaiming how healthy he feels, and he’s had in-game flashes that have shown he is, indeed, getting some of his mobility back. A healthy McGrady is a good thing.

But a healthy McGrady probably also fancies himself a starter or at least a player who should get starter’s minutes. By my count, the Pistons have five guys — McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon — who reasonably believe they should be the focal point of the offense. Not that any of them are bad players, but I don’t think any of the five are good enough to run your offense through and expect great results. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out. If the team starts winning a little bit with any of the five taking on some type of lead role, that makes it easier. But more likely, if they continue to struggle, there’s a chance we could see season long jockeying between guys who might all feel like they could do things better.

12 Comments

  • Dec 1, 20102:31 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    “season-long” jockeying? we’ve been in a constant state of jockeying for more than two years solid already. and as long as rip, stuckey and gordon are forced to coexist (and from the look of it, that’s at least two more years), that’s the status quo. there’s no hierarchy here, and 1/4 through the season, we’ve made no steps whatsoever towards settling on rotations/roles/anything. it’s a mess.

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  • Dec 1, 20102:51 pm
    by Brett

    Reply

    I lobbied for this the last time I posted a comment a couple of weeks ago and will say it again, the Pistons need to eliminate one player from there 6 man perimeter (PG, SG, SF) rotation.  Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon basically split every game, these guys are shooters, they need to get a certain rhythm, not to mention they are your two highest paid players, 24 minutes a game is not enough for them.  Kuester needs to get them on the court at the same time.  The only way to do this is to take Bynum or McGrady out of the rotation (my preference is Bynum).

    The 17 minutes that Bynum played last night should go be split between Rip and Gordon, pushing them closer to 30-35 minutes a night instead of 24-27.  Tayshaun and McGrady have demonstrated that they can initiate the offense anyway (as evidence by a couple of the columns, including this one, posted on here).  Look back to how well Gordon played early this year when Rip was out, rhythm is everything for a jump shooter, if Will Bynum has to be sacrificed to play our $23 million dollar shooting guard combination more minutes, I am ok with that.

    Thanks, Brett.

  • Dec 1, 20102:55 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    justin rogers posted an article on Mlive arguing for bynum to be stripped from the rotation. great idea.
     
    that would leave the 2nd unit as:
     
    PG: Mcgrady
     
    SG: Gordon
     
    SF: Daye
     
    PF: CV
     
    C: Monroe
     
    Hook me up with that 2nd unit anyday. Seeing as how we’re basically two teams within one and we do full substitutions, I think that is the best 2nd team we can offer.

  • Dec 1, 20103:42 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Laser:

    “we’ve been in a constant state of jockeying for more than two years solid already.”

    Last season, the “jockeying” was more a product of injuries, it wasn’t a bunch of healthy players all wanting more minutes and a bigger role. It’s a different problem this year, even if the result — different guys trying to assert themselves as the “lead” guy at different times — is similar.

  • Dec 1, 20103:47 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Brett:

    Ben Gordon played more than 31 minutes a game only twice in his five years in Chicago. He’s playing 27 a game this year. He played 27 a game last year. That’s not a significant decline in minutes, really. Gordon can be effective in the minutes he’s playing in Detroit.

  • Dec 1, 20105:04 pm
    by Alan

    Reply

    @Patrick,
    I’m curious if the Ben Gordon mpg stat is skewed this season as he was able to start and log heavy minutes in a few games and less so in others.  Any thoughts on this?

  • Dec 1, 20105:13 pm
    by Brett

    Reply

    @Patrick

    I understand, and I know this is a small point that probably won’t help a lot anyway, but he did play 36 minutes a game his last year in Chicago, and his game log is consistently 24 minutes or less (bumped up to a 27 average thanks to a couple games Rip missed & OT games)

    I just don’t believe its good for either of them…Rip coming back into a close game with 3 minutes left instead of 7 minutes left isn’t good for him either, no time to heat up before the game is over (Ex. Wizards game goes OT, he goes off in the extra 5 minute session after getting his legs under him the last 3 minutes of regulation)

    Small points I know, I guess I’m just another frustrated fan looking for something to help this team

  • Dec 1, 20105:38 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @hayes: well, injuries were a part of it, but it’s not like the team ever had a sensible rotation or any sort of hierarchy. just a mishmash hodgepodge of guys who can’t play together. i mean, this team had more “order” and (probably not coincidentally played its best basketball) when it was most depleted by injury.
     
    and, er, you’ve sure made it sound like we’re not using gordon much differently than chicago did, but after his rookie season (where he averaged 24:23) he averaged 31, 33, 31:48 and 36:36. add in the fact that his 27ish minutes are inflated by starts and games where rip got tossed, and add in the drastic drop in field goal attempts (in chicago, after his rookie season he was averaging like 15.5 shots; this season he’s closer to 9 than 10, and again that’s inflated by starts and rip’s tantrums). there’s just no role for him here. if he’s not a primary/secondary offensive option, he’s going to waste. i’d argue there’s virtually no way for him to be effective in the role he’s been given here.
     
    the other thing is that in his contract season he was playing almost ten (10) more minutes than he’s been getting this season.
     
    @nuetes: the bynum thing’s not new. he’s one of my favorite pistons, but i’ve nominated him to get cut out of the rotation in favor of daye playing exclusively on the perimeter. similar to gordon, i just don’t think there’s room for bynum to operate in this “system.”

  • Dec 1, 20106:33 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    good points laser. Especially about Gordon’s minutes and his role. Gordon is playing so poorly right now that i have to second guess my emphatic assertion earlier this season that he should be starting. He lost that game last night at Orlando.

    T-Mac is by far the best playmaker on the team – better than Tay, Stuckey, or Bynum, and way better than Rip or Ben Gordon. I would actually like to see T-Mac be a little more aggressive with his shot but i think he should get more minutes and i think he should be on the floor with Stuckey – which i guess means i think T-Mac should start – because he finds cutters better than anyone on the team and Stuckey does a great job of diving to the hole after he gives up the ball out top.

    Right now, i have no problem sitting Rip & Ben Gordon and giving minutes to T-Mac and Daye. It was disheartening to hear that Joe has no current talks with teams about Rip. If we cannot move Rip – we should move Ben Gordon.

    Maybe Sac is getting closer to parting with Cousins. They probably want nothing to do with Rip’s contract but maybe Gordon would be more appealing?

    But you are absolutely right – this is a mish mash of talent (some very good talent) that does not fit together along with a coach who either has no backbone or no clue.

  • Dec 1, 20108:55 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    +1
     
    we don’t always agree, but i agree with almost all of that. the one place i disagree emphatically is that gordon should get the chance to start. he’s still shooting well overall, he’s our best shooter period, and rip is by far a worse fit in this system where he has to create his own shot if he wants shots at all.
     
    perhaps the most insane, indefensible thing going on this season is the lack of tinkering. we’re approaching game 20, and… villa has yet to start once, and the thought of a starting backcourt that’s not rip & stuckey hasn’t so much as crossed anyone’s mind. you won’t agree with me on all of these, but i wouldn’t mind a backcourt pairing of stuckey/gordon, stuckey/t-mac, bynum/stuckey, bynum/rip, t-mac/gordon, uh… bynum/t-mac. try SOMETHING different. we’ve all seen more than enough of stuckey/rip to know IT DOESN’T WORK.

  • Dec 2, 20105:08 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Alan, I think you’re on to something.

    Gordon has started three games and played 38 minutes per game.

    In his other 16 games, he’s played 25 minutes per game.

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