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Archive → February, 2011

Analyzing Greg Monroe’s big night and Detroit’s final, chaotic play against Indiana

Hello PistonPowered readers! Some of you might already know me from my blog, Bynumite Blog. Dan Feldman was kind enough to ask me to provide my video and photo breakdowns for PistonPowered, and I agreed. I want to thank Dan and Patrick for giving a young writer and basketball fan a chance to share his knowledge and excitement with Pistons nation. Now, enough with the thank yous and let’s dive into the good stuff!

Greg Monroe’s big night

As already mentioned yesterday, Greg Monroe had a career performance last night with 27 points on 11 of 17 shooting (5-of-7 from the line) along with 12 rebounds and only one turnover. During the past few weeks and months, he’s the only rookie showing a steady improvement in his entire game. Blake Griffin is a beast, but he isn’t improving as much, because he’s already closer to his ceiling. Monroe seems kind of raw and lacks a midrange jumper. In my opinion, he will add it to his repertoire. When I saw him in college, he could hit three-pointers every once in a while, so I expect him to do it in a Pistons uniform as well. Not 3-pointers, but 18-footers!

I first looked at how he got his points last night. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t score on any jumpers. His first three made baskets came after offensive rebounds. A teammate missed a shot, and he cleaned up the glass for an easy put back. He has become so adept at getting position on the offensive board, he will soon be called the “vacuum cleaner.” For the entire game, he had four offensive rebounds which led directly to a putback score for him, and he totaled six offensive rebounds for the entire game.

A ton of his points came a different way. It’s actually pretty amazing to have 27-point performance and all you do is have one play run for you! John Kuester needs more plays for Monroe and even a few post-ups maybe. Monroe appears ready for a bigger offensive load. In order to get Monroe a basket, the Pistons run the side pick-and-roll (P&R) a lot. As often mentioned by Dan, his favorite partner is Tracy McGrady. How much does he favor McGrady? Well, last night McGrady assisted five of his field goals.

They were all similar to the one I’m using to exemplify the play. In this one Ben Gordon gets an on-ball screen by Ben Wallace on the right wing. Gordon drives to his left, and the Pacers do a good job defending.

P&R

Ben passes to Stuckey who immediately swings the ball to T-Mac on the left wing. T-Mac then also gets a side-pick and drives to the middle of the court. Monroe releases the pick quickly and cuts towards the basket. Now McGrady patiently waits for the opportunity. A lesser play maker would have forced a pass or a shot. McGrady is experienced enough to wait a couple of moments until the Indiana defense decides to double-team him, because this is how Indiana defends the P&R. They force the ball-handler to give up the ball.

P&R2

P&R3

Monroe gets an easy pass, catches it, makes a move to the opposite side of the rim and converts an easy right-handed lay-up.

P&R4

It’s great to watch GM10 progress. At the beginning of the season, he had such great problems converting layups, and taller and stronger defenders often blocked his attempts. Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough might not be the crème de la crème of post-defenders, but Hibbert is very tall and Hansbrough is kind of scary in my opinion. Monroe has become much better at avoiding getting  his shot blocked and finding openings to make easy twos. Of his seven field goals that weren’t putbacks, five were assisted. I don’t know whether the plays that led to his seven free-throw attempts would have earned assists. All in all, it was a stellar performance by a very talented big man.

Last shot to seize everything you ever wanted

Of course, this wasn’t a championship situation, but I always enjoy T-Mac lip synching to this song, so I chose it as a headline for the second play for today.

After Indiana scored a great basket on the Pistons with five seconds to go, John Kuester took a time-out to set up a game-winning play. First Austin Daye set a backscreen for Monroe, who cut to the basket in order to score. The execution on this play was horrible and Daye showed he was not a great screener. Monroe did not get open at all and just faded to the other side of the court. I like the backscreen, but I believe it was not the first option for Kuester anyway – at least I hope so.

Backscreen

After the first screen a real chaos starts developing. I’m not quite sure whether Kuester designed a play to confuse the Pacers or whether the Pistons improvised. Gordon immediately started dashing to the left wing, Stuckey set another screen for Daye and Gordon started dashing back to where he came from. Needless to say, Gordon didn’t get much separation on the play and ended up 10 feet behind the 3-point line, which rendered him useless.

Now, the screen for Daye gave Austin a lot of space indicated by the blue line. My guess is he had about seven feet between him and his defender. I was surprised McGrady did not give him the ball, especially because he was close to violating the 5-second inbound rule. Daye had hit a big shot just moments earlier and had beaten the 76ers with a 3 from the same corner on the same play a month earlier. He didn’t get the chance to do it again.

Backscreen2

When McGrady finally inbounded the drawn-up options were already negated by good Pacer defense. T-Mac almost violated the 5-second rule (I hand-stopped it, he took a bit more than five seconds). Anyway, Stuckey got the ball and started a drive to the rim. Nothing wrong there. He had to drive.

Backscreen3

Darren Collison did a great job staying in front of Stuckey. Stuckey chose to ignore an open Ben Gordon at the baseline. I realize 2.5 seconds are not a lot to make a pass and release a shot, it’s still better than throwing the ball out of bounds though, which Stuckey did. Would you rather give up the ball for an open 3 or shoot over two defenders? Yeah, I thought so!

Backscreen4

The play in video:

In a late-game situation, I don’t expect perfect decisions from the players. This is the exact reason why fans get upset with Stuckey. Dumars expected him to become more of a facilitator when he gave him the opportunity to be the point guard of the team and traded Billups. He wanted him to score when necessary, not whenever he touches ball. He has shown the ability to be just that kind of player numerous times, he does not do it night in and night out, and that hurts the team.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Detroit Pistons-Utah Jazz ticket winners and trivia answers

Congratulations to Peter Brown and Bill Gitterman, who each won two tickets provided by StubHub! to Saturday’s Pistons-Jazz game. Sorry if you guys were pumped to watch Deron Williams.

They won the tickets by answering Wednesday’s trivia question:

At this very moment (hint, hint), 20 NBA players have a career scoring average of at least 20 points per game and have played for only one NBA team. Name them.

Here are the 20:

  • Alex Groza
  • Billy Cunningham
  • Blake Griffin
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Dan Issel
  • David Robinson
  • Derrick Rose
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Geoff Petrie
  • George Mikan
  • Jerry West
  • John Havlicek
  • Julius Erving
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Larry Bird
  • Michael Redd
  • Paul Arizin
  • Paul Pierce
  • Tim Duncan

Those are the 20 I had in mind when I asked the question, but three other players – Kevin Durant, Elgin Baylor and Bob Pettit – played for one franchise their entire career. The trick is their team changed cities, leaving them in a gray area, but I counted those guys, too.

Examining the Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince trades that didn’t happen

Whew.

Today was the wildest, busiest, nuttiest trade deadline in some time – maybe ever. In all the madness, the Pistons didn’t make a trade, but they had a couple reported possibilities.

The Pistons agreed to send Richard Hamilton and a protected draft pick to the Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports! But the deal fell apart when the Cavaliers and Hamilton couldn’t agree to a buyout. I presume the protected pick was a first rounder.

Detroit also turned down a trade of Tayshaun Prince for Caron Butler and the Mavericks’ first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski.

Let’s look a little deeper at what each trade would have meant and what Detroit not making them means.

Richard Hamilton trade ramifications

There are two reasons the Pistons wanted to make this trade rather than buy out Hamilton themselves:

  1. Karen Davidson didn’t want to pay the buyout.
  2. The buyout would count against the cap of the team that pays it.

The first reason was obviously more important, but let’s pretend the Pistons had a committed owner who was willing to pay Hamilton’s buyout. The trade still might have been worthwhile for Detroit. (It’s impossible to evaluate the merits more specifically without knowing the protections on the pick.)

A buyout counts evenly against the cap for each remaining season on a player’s contract. So, if Hamilton had taken a $15 million buyout, $5 million would have counted against his team’s cap each of the next two seasons.

That cap charge can’t be traded. It’s just in the way.

So, from a purely on-court perspective, the trade could have helped the Pistons.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

Tayshaun Prince trade ramifications

I’ve seen so much misinformation about this trade, I barely know where to begin. I’ve seen reasons to make the trade and reasons not to make the trade, valid and invalid explanations behind each. So let’s split it up.

Valid reasons to make the trade

Who knows what will happen with Prince this summer? The Pistons don’t need Prince right now, and this trade would have ensured they got something in return.

  • The Pistons could have signed-and-traded Caron Butler this summer.

The odds of that happening may have been low (and zero if the Pistons bought out Butler), but the possibility was at least a small bonus.

Valid reason not to make the trade

  • Prince is a good player.

He’s worth more than a low first-round pick, but most teams would get fair value for a player like Prince by trading him for the long-term contract of a more valuable player. The Pistons, because Davidson doesn’t want to add salary commitments, couldn’t make a trade like that today.

So, Detroit might get more value from Prince later.

Let’s put numbers behind it on an imaginary scale. I’m not necessarily advocating these numbers and odds. I’m just saying they’re reasonable.

I’m going set Prince’s value at a 10. Dallas’ first-round pick is about a 2. What the Pistons could get in a sign-and-trade is a 4. Prince’s value if the Pistons re-sign him is a six. His value to Detroit if he walks this summer is a 0.

Let’s say there’s a 25 percent chance the Pistons sign-and-trade him, a 20 percent chance they re-sign him and a 55 percent chance he just walks away.

The value of keeping him would be 2.2 (.25*4 + .2*6 + .55*0). The value of trading of trading him would have been 2.

2.2 (keeping Prince) >2 (trading Prince)

Invalid reasons to make the trade

  • The Pistons would gain cap room.

Prince and Butler both have expiring contracts. Detroit’s cap space this summer would have been unaffected.

Daye will be better off spending another 23 games getting the value of defense hammered into his head. If the Pistons just gave him minutes, who knows if that lesson would stick?

Invalid reasons not to make the trade

They wouldn’t lose it by gaining Dallas’ first-round pick.

Draft picks are never bad to have. Maybe the pick won’t become a good player, but if there’s your reasoning, teams shouldn’t acquire players.

Barely, if at all. Low first-round picks don’t make much money, and the Pistons probably won’t have cap room the next two years, anyway.

If their cap situation changes, the Pistons could always dump the player they drafted. There’s not a single former first-round pick on the first two years of his rookie contract (the only guaranteed years) who a team couldn’t give away.

I’ve seen no indication rookie contracts will change much, but if they do, it will probably mean the player the Pistons would have chosen with Dallas’ pick will make less money. I’ll be completely shocked if rookie-scale contracts increase in the next CBA.

Butler and Prince both have expiring contracts. Besides the small amount paid to the first-round pick from Dallas, the Pistons’ salary commitment for next year won’t change. If the money owed to that pick becomes an issue, the Pistons could always trade the player for a future pick.

They would. (Although it probably wouldn’t matter. I doubt he or the Pistons would want him to re-sign.)

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: Cavaliers wanted Pistons guard Richard Hamilton to play for them, but he balked

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Cleveland would’ve been glad to let Rip play there, but he didn’t want the minutes. Wouldn’t take buyout offer. Back to bench in Detroit.

I wouldn’t rush to believe this version of events. If the Cavaliers wanted Hamilton to play for them, they could have just made the trade. If they did, what options would Hamilton have but to play for them?

Richard Hamilton and LeBron James share the same agent, Leon Rose, and Wojnarowski has been critical of LeBron/Rose for quite some time. Don’t rule out that clouding his report.

Pistons won’t buy out Richard Hamilton

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

The Pistons have no intention of buying out Rip Hamilton, a league source confirmed. Rip blew his chance at free agency haggling with CLE

Pistons nearly traded Richard Hamilton a draft pick to the Cavaliers

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

DET and CLE negotiated down to wire on a Rip Hamilton trade, but fell apart when Rip wouldn’t accept buyout terms with Cavs, sources say.

DET and CLE agreed on protected future draft pick to go with Hamilton, but Rip wouldn’t give back enough of $25M owed him, sources say.

Basically, Detroit wanted Cleveland to pay Hamilton’s buyout, so the Pistons wouldn’t have to. They offered pick as incentive for the Cavaliers to do that.

Dave Hogg sort of reports Pistons will buy out Richard Hamilton

Huge mistake by me. In the spirit of the day, I misread Hogg’s tweet as the buyout will occur about 20 minutes after the trade deadline is finalized. Apologies for the confusion and misrepresenting the tweet.

Freelance writer Dave Hogg who often covers the Pistons:

Rip will be gone about 20 minutes after the sale is finalized. #buyout

I followed up to ask whether he was reporting or predicting. Hogg’s response:

@PistonPowered Educated guess.

We’ll definitely keep an eye on this.

Joe Dumars still considering moving Tayshaun Prince and/or Richard Hamilton

Ken Berger of CBS Sports:

Pistons still working on scenarios for Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, but doesn’t look like they’ll move either guy, source says.

I take Berger’s tweet to mean the Pistons are considering a trade and/or buyout.

Detroit Pistons won’t trade Tayshaun Prince to the Dallas Mavericks for Caron Butler and a first-round draft pick

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Detroit won’t deal Tayshaun Prince to Mavs for Caron Butler and a 1st. Even if Pistons can’t re-sign him, he’s asset in sign-and-trade.

Once upon a time, Richard Hamilton said Joe Dumars would get rid of any player who didn’t want to play for the Pistons

We’re just three hours from the trade deadline, but don’t give up hope of the Pistons making a trade. Just ask Richard Hamilton how confident he is in Joe Dumars:

“If you don’t want to be here, he’ll get you out of here,” laughed Hamilton.

Yeah, OK, Hamilton said that three years ago in a Dan Wetzel column about Dumars’ savvy. I don’t think Hamilton could have predicted Dumars would sign an aging guard to a $37.5 million extension only to see that player have his production fall and clash with his coach.

Maybe we overstated Dumars’ ability as general manager when he was at his peak. If he somehow trades Hamilton today, maybe we didn’t.