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How would Troy Murphy and Johan Petro affect the Pistons’ rotation?

Although the Pistons-Nets-Nuggets Carmelo Anthony trade appears on hold for a while, the Pistons should be rooting for it to get done sooner than later. When the deal is completed won’t affect the biggest benefit of the trade – the financial flexibility that would come with shedding Richard Hamilton’s contract – but the sooner a trade happens, the sooner the Pistons would improve on the court.

All season, the Pistons have had rotation problems mainly because they’ve been way overstaffed on the wings and way understaffed up front. This trade alleviates both of those problems, although admittedly Murphy and Petro are not anything to get particularly excited about. I do, however, think the Pistons would be an even more flexible team and potentially a playoff team if Murphy gets back on track after posting career-lows across the board to this point in New Jersey.

Here’s a positional breakdown of how the team would look should this trade get done (please get it done!).

Point guard

One spot on the team that should see no big impact because of the trade. Rodney Stuckey is still the likely starting point guard. Tracy McGrady looks to be settling into the backup spot (at least partially, he could see minutes on the wings as well), and Will Bynum will fight for whatever minutes are left over. One positive, however, is that if Tayshaun Prince is eventually traded as well, McGrady’s ability to play the point allows the team to play Stuckey at shooting guard more often.

Minutes breakdown prediction:

  • Stuckey -32
  • McGrady – 12
  • Bynum – 4

Shooting guard

Ben Gordon has already assumed the starting shooting guard spot, but with Hamilton still breathing down his neck, Gordon’s still played more than 30 minutes just four times in his eight starts since the change. Moving Hamilton would mercifully end John Kuester‘s "play whoever’s kinda not playing that bad" strategy that he’s employed most of the past two seasons. This move, more than anything, is the team telling Gordon, "You’re our guy." No more excuses, no more "Kuester isn’t using Gordon right!" cries after poor performances. If Gordon is a starting caliber shooting guard in this league, he needs to return to the productivity that made him a sought after free agent after he left Chicago.

But let’s not pretend like Gordon has no competition at the spot, because he does. I think it’s safe to say Pistons fans love Austin Daye and his potential, especially after his best game as a pro against Philadelphia on Saturday. If Gordon doesn’t produce and Daye builds on that performance with a prolonged stretch of strong play, the Pistons will have their second shooting guard positional controversy of the season.

Minutes breakdown prediction:

  • Gordon -30
  • Daye – 14
  • Stuckey – 4

Small forward

Small forward is another spot that will remain relatively unfazed by the trade. Tayshaun Prince is still the starter and is still, for better or worse, the Pistons’ primary option on offense. That’s not all bad — Prince has quietly put together a nice season after a rough first few weeks. His attitude and body language have improved and his communication with younger teammates has improved. Prince is the crafty, intelligent player he’s always been, and if he can impart some of that wisdom to Daye, Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko when he returns, the team will be much better in the future.

McGrady will get some of the backup minutes when he’s not backing up the point and Daye will get the rest.

Minutes breakdown prediction:

  • Prince -33
  • McGrady – 8
  • Daye – 7

Power forward

Here’s where things get interesting. With the Pistons, I look at the PF and C spots as one position basically, where four and maybe five guys will share minutes. They have no one who is truly a center, so the additions of Murphy and Petro don’t really change the fact that they’re going to still get worked defensively by dominant frontcourt players. But Murphy, in particular, represents an upgrade over Jason Maxiell and Chris Wilcox, so his addition to the rotation should, at the least, lead to better rebounding numbers.

Charlie Villanueva will probably continue to start. He hasn’t played fantastic lately, but he’s still won the job and Murphy is having a bad season, so he shouldn’t be considered a presumed starter or anything. There’s also the option to put Monroe back in the starting lineup, an option I’d actually like to see, but I doubt it would happen.

My guess is Murphy/Villanueva become the new Rip/Gordon. One will usually play, one will usually sit, and it will be based primarily on who gets it going on a game-to-game basis. Long-term, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Murphy move into the starting lineup by season’s end, especially if the Pistons are contending for the eighth playoff spot by the time April rolls around.

Minutes breakdown prediction:

  • Villanueva -26
  • Murphy – 11
  • Monroe – 11

Center

Ben Wallace is still the heart and soul of this team, at least in the eyes of the fans, and I have no problems with him starting until his career ends (barring the Pistons trading for Dwight Howard or something). But if Murphy returns to form and if Monroe continues to develop, I also have no problem with Wallace’s role continuing to shrink.

Minutes breakdown prediction:

  • Wallace -20
  • Murphy – 12
  • Monroe – 12
  • Petro – 4

The Pistons will continue to boast one of the worst defensive frontcourts in the league, there’s no denying that. And Wilcox and/or Maxiell may prove to be better options than Petro in that coveted fifth big man spot. But for now, if Petro indeed is included in the trade, the Pistons might as well give him a shot to see what they have.

Murphy will help them rebound a little better hopefully, and Monroe will hopefully challenge Wallace or Villanueva for a starting spot by season’s end.

Although the more balanced roster isn’t going to propel the Pistons into Eastern Conference contenders, it could potentially do enough to allow the team to sneak into the playoffs, which should make Joe Dumars happy, even if fans would prefer to get the lottery pick instead.

16 Comments

  • Jan 11, 20112:45 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    Murphy’s one of those players that guys like me (i.e., the guys who like the advanced stats) tend to get more excited about than others, but TBH, I’m a little surprised there isn’t more excitement about what he could offer Detroit. His previous two season in Indy, he was a double double machine, while playing as a stretch 4 — that’s hard to do.
     
    Additionally, while he’s got a bad reputation as far as defense goes, he’s actually posted respectable DRatings (relative to ORatings) throughout his career, on par with what Ben Wallace has posted the past 2 seasons in Detroit.
     
    I think the broad assumption is that we want him strictly for his deal, but personally, he’s been a player I’ve been interested in for a long time and am actually excited about as a player.
     
    Of course, that all assumes he can get healthy.
     
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/murphtr01.html

  • Jan 11, 20113:01 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    Murphy is a really good player. But age and injuries seem to be catching up with him. Coming off a good season I thought the Nets got a really good player and I predicted they’d battle for a playoff spot. Terrance Williams didn’t amount to anything, or his attitude did him in with Avery Johnson, and Murphy never contributed. And Brook Lopez blows. A lot went wrong for the Nets, and it continues to.

  • Jan 11, 20113:09 pm
    by Tim

    Reply

    I just don’t understand how you could peg McGrady for just 20 mins/game.

  • Jan 11, 20113:19 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Tim:

    Because he hasn’t shown that he can be productive getting big minutes every single night. The pattern has been he’ll play a couple good games in a row, then, like Chicago last night, play not so well.

    I think some nights, he’ll play 30-34. I think some nights, he’ll play 15 or 16. In the end, it will even out to around 20ish a game on average.

  • Jan 11, 20113:21 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @brgulker:

    As I said in the post, I’d be more excited if the didn’t already have Villanueva locked up to do all of the things that Murphy does, only a lot worse. Minus Villanueva, I’d be pumped about Murphy.

  • Jan 11, 20114:55 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    i appreciate the effort here, but the rotation is anybody’s guess at any given time, and i don’t think murphy or petro is going to do anything to change that. we can guess, but i don’t think kuester has any idea who’s going to do what for him on any given day.

  • Jan 11, 20114:57 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    @ Patrick, that’s fair, but I do wonder if Villanueva is movable if Murphy is retained… Time will tell.

  • Jan 11, 20115:36 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    Yeah and lets not all get too excited until the trade is done.

  • Jan 11, 20116:17 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    murphy’s not being retained. no matter what. if this deal gets pulled off, dumars is going to go after zach randolph in free agency. may require clearing more cap space, but between rip and tayshaun we’ll be close.
     
    heck, dumars may part with villanueva to clear more space. but murphy’s not sticking around.

  • Jan 11, 20116:40 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    I can agree with Laser here – the ONLY reason we are in this trade discussion is to rid ourselves of RIP’s contract, and of course that only happens with Murphy’s Expiring deal.
     
    Assuming he’ll be looking for alot of money, he won’t be worth us spending the cap space we have available on him. We would be searching either for a dynamic scorer/rebounder (Randolph) or a strong Defensive Big..
     
    Had Dumars has ANY interest in Murphy before, he would have approached the Nets early in the season, as he hasn’t been a part of their regular lineup all year long..

  • Jan 11, 20116:51 pm
    by bg8

    Reply

    im not so sure gordon’s minute will increase once rip is traded. i could still see kuester playing gordon only in the 1st and 3rd. bg will play his first quarter, then at the start of the 2nd, its gonna be bynum, tmac, daye, and 2 bigs. at the end of the 2nd, its gonna be stuckey, tmac, prince, either daye and 1 big or 2 bigs. and it will probably be the same rotation in the second half too. so i won’t be surpraise if bg minutes continue to hover around 20-24 min/gm

  • Jan 11, 20116:54 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    20-24? no chance. certainly not at first. you don’t pay a guy that kind of money and make him the gem of your rebuilding free agent spending spree to play him 20 minutes. he’ll get a legitimate chance at starter’s minutes. bet on it.

  • Jan 11, 20117:22 pm
    by Zeiram

    Reply

    @Patrick
     
    Here is an idea for a post you or Dan should do. The legacy of the key players from the 2004 championship team. As a departure from Hamilton nears I am kind of wondering how he and the others will be remembered. It kind of seems to me that they all left (or will leave) in a way heroes of a franchise shouldn´t.
    I mean Chauncey was traded for Iverson, Big Ben was let go and is now back as a cheap gap stop for center. Wallace left, Hamilton will be traded and everyone will be happy about that fact and Prince is probably next.
    I never would have believed that in 04/05. So what do you think, how will these guys be remembered in Pistons lore and how will their relationship with the franchise be? Whose number will get retired and whose won´t?

  • Jan 11, 20118:47 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    @Zeiram
    As i said earlier…lets not get too excited about this until it is a done deal. If Rip is not traded before the Feb deadline (to NJ) then we will be stuck with him and his crappy contract until it is finished or management will buy him out of the last year. Most players careers with teams don’t have happy endings these days because sport is just a business. Real fans will remember Rip, Big Ben, Chauncey, Tay and Sheed as a team of cast offs that bonded to become one of the best defensive teams the NBA has ever seen. They were a team that punched way above their weight but they didn’t care because they were a bunch of parts that worked perfectly together. I underline together because as soon as one of those parts was taken away (Big Ben) the team just wasn’t the same. Then slowly but surely more parts were taken/given/traded away (Larry, Chauncey, Memo, Rasheed). Unfortunately the last remaining pieces are still around lingering like old furniture that should of been given away a while ago (Rip, Tay). I think as much credit as Joe got for building the pistons empire he has to cop the blame for the slow demise of it as well.
     
    I have said many a time that i will always love and appreciate what Rip, Big Ben, Chauncey, Tay and Sheed done by representing this team over that dominant stretch but it is time to move on. People forget that the team will always be here long after those players mentioned and that the team can move on gracefully and always look back fondly on those glory days…but that’s all they are now ‘glory days’. I will remember that team as a team that could score 85-90 points and still win by 10. Every time they went out they knew they would win but it was just a matter of how. They were that good together which is why it is so hard to see what has become of the team now.

  • Jan 12, 20111:30 am
    by Jason

    Reply

    Well said, Gmehl. Well said!

  • Jan 13, 20111:14 am
    by bg8

    Reply

    well if this game against the griz was any indication of life without rip, it doesn’t look like gordon gonna get more than 20-24 minutes a game. stuckey, tmac, and prince will probably get the majority of the minutes

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