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Will Bynum sets up teammates more than anyone on the Pistons

I want to take a minute to address what has become a huge annoyance: despite the presence of high-priced players who have underperformed (Jason Maxiell, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Rip Hamilton) and a young player who seems to have plateaued when he’s essentially auditioning for his first big payday as a pro (Rodney Stuckey), a player who is taking a ridiculous amount of criticism, both from commenters (examples here and here) and from some who cover the team, is Will Bynum. A player who has been very productive since rejoining the rotation and who, more importantly, is one of only a handful of Pistons who is not astronomically overpaid.

The general sentiment, if I may summarize the rants posted in the comments and jokes made on Twitter, is that Bynum goes into the game essentially in get-mine mode. When his shot is falling, that’s great. When it’s not, people feel he plays selfish and out of control.

Those would be fair criticisms if they were accurate.

Will Bynum sets up teammates

Tracy McGrady has generally been panned praised by fans because his passing has added a dimension to the starting lineup the Pistons were lacking with Stuckey running the point. Namely, McGrady passes more and better than Stuckey.

I have no issues with those facts. McGrady has certainly been an unselfish player. Bynum, however, is kind of framed as the anti-McGrady. The point guard in name only who comes into the game looking to do one thing: score the ball. It’s just a flat-out wrong perception.

First, the most telling stat is assist percentage — “an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on on the floor.” Bynum leads the team at just over 28 percent of his possessions. McGrady, surprisingly, is only producing an assist on about 24 percent of his possessions.

That’s not to say Bynum is better at running a conventional offense than McGrady. McGrady very clearly is superior in the halfcourt, and often, his passes are about making the smart basketball play that keeps the offense moving rather than just making a pass that leads to a basket. But to say that Bynum is averse to passing is just not correct. He’s a different type of player, a freelancer who uses his quickness to create havoc and keep the defense off balance. His main goal is to score, for sure, but if he doesn’t have a shot, he passes to teammates in position to score more often than anyone on the team. Which brings me too …

Myth: Bynum is not an efficient scorer

Bynum shoots nearly 45 percent this season. That’s a better percentage than McGrady, Hamilton, Gordon, Stuckey and Villanueva. He averages fewer shot attempts per 36 minutes than Hamilton, Gordon, Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Villanueva, Daye and, hilariously, DaJuan Summers. So Bynum shoots a better percentage on fewer shot attempts than five key players, and people jump all over him for shooting even though he does it pretty efficiently?

And, just to add some recent data, in eight games in February so far, just as the criticism of him has been ratcheting up, his shooting percentage for the month is 52 percent. I’m sorry, but any guard who is shooting 52 percent should have the green light to shoot as often as he feels like he has good shots. Bynum is going to miss at the rim sometimes for a couple of reasons: a large percentage of his shots come at the rim and he’s really short. But when you compare his percentage to say, Stuckey, a much bigger player who has a similar game when it comes to attacking the basket, Bynum just flat out converts those attempts more often than Stuckey does.

The contract

Bynum is one of the four players on the Pistons (Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace and McGrady are the other three) whose production is in line with his pay. Bynum makes less than most backup point guards in the league. He produces about 14 points, 6 assists and 1.5 steals every 36 minutes while shooting 45 percent and 82 percent from the free throw line.

He’s not without flaws — he turns it over more than you’d like a point guard to and his playing with reckless abandon, while often changing the pace of the game and putting pressure on the opposing defense, can sometimes become out of control.

The takeaway

Even with limitations, what Bynum gives the team on a nightly basis — speed, aggression, intensity, playmaking, bench scoring and lately, ball-hawking defense (he has seven steals in the last two games) — for a cheap (by NBA standards) cost, there’s zero reason to really complain about his flaws, especially while bending over backwards to make excuses for a much higher paid player like Gordon who very often plays without aggression or intensity and, unlike Bynum, rarely does anything to set up teammates or create shots for them.

Bynum is far from the problem on the Pistons. It’s fair to criticize him when he makes a bad play, but this is the simple truth: if every Piston played with the heart and intensity that Bynum plays with, they’d be a playoff team.


  • Feb 15, 20118:18 am
    by vick


    excellent writeup. I totally agree.

    Anyone that brings that much fire and intensity, and sets the occasional record, deserved a better chance. I said that he should have been starting PG since the beginning of the season. This would have been a totally different season.
    He’s not perfect, but he fills a role. Namely: the only true point guard on the team. What a revelation.

  • Feb 15, 20118:46 am
    by Tim


    So true. bynum gets way too much flak. Granted, a lot of it is just left over from the beginning of the season when he sort of deserved it. He was playing pretty poorly then. But now he is back to playing as well as can be expected of him: an average backup PG at a below average backup’s price tag.
    However, vick, it is just incorrect to call Bynum a “true point guard.” His stats actually are similar to a lot of PGs. But then, it seems most PGs aren’t considered true points these days. And if you watch him play and still consider him a true point, I have no idea what your definition for that term is.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Zach Lowe and PistonPowered Feed, Patrick Hayes. Patrick Hayes said: New @PistonPowered: Will Bynum passes more than anyone one the Pistons http://bit.ly/eIJYKD #Pistons #NBA [...]

  • Feb 15, 201110:05 am
    by acdctime


    Whois better at directing traffic and find cutter of flex or curl cuts ? Who is better at playing the pick and roll or who is reading the plays  in advance.Who is better and controlling the  pace of games?

    • Feb 15, 201110:28 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Did you read what I wrote? Or did you just hammer that out on your keyboard after skimming? Here’s the passage that should answer your question:

      “That’s not to say Bynum is better at running a conventional offense than McGrady. McGrady very clearly is superior in the halfcourt, and often, his passes are about making the smart basketball play that keeps the offense moving rather than just making a pass that leads to a basket. But to say that Bynum is averse to passing is just not correct. He’s a different type of player, a freelancer who uses his quickness to create havoc and keep the defense off balance. His main goal is to score, for sure, but if he doesn’t have a shot, he passes to teammates in position to score more often than anyone on the team.”

  • Feb 15, 201110:06 am
    by acdctime


    I mean betweentmac and Bynum

  • Feb 15, 201110:39 am
    by BIG MARV


    At this point it dont matter no more I will give the job to the hardest working player if its willy-B then so be it. I mean kuester switched this line-up so much it doesnt even matter, there is no chemestry at all we need a trade to spark this team not another line up switch. I like bynum as the energy guy off the bench and thats where he belongs.

  • Feb 15, 201110:58 am
    by Jason


    Nice article, Patrick – I couldn’t agree more. Hell, it was just last year that a large percentage of Pistons fans were calling for Bynum to start over Stuck at the PG spot, so it’s upsetting to see so many complaints about the guy.
    You’re absolutely right though, so he isn’t a picture perfect “True PG”, but on a team that has NO “True PG”, he’s the last guy who should be getting criticism. For his reasonable contract, I think he does a great job – and is a huge benefit to this team.
    He’s a great spark off the bench, and as you mentioned, he’s been probably our best player as of late – especially on defense!  *Did I really just say that?? lol. 7 Steals the last couple games is impressive for a guy who most considered undersized, and a liability on that end of the court..
    The way he’s been playing, the critics make very little sense.. 

  • Feb 15, 201110:59 am
    by Jason


    Side question, whatever happened with the Ticket contest for last nights game? Never saw any follow up posts….

  • Feb 15, 201111:28 am
    by detroitpcb


    This is total garbage Hayes. Will Bynum is supposed to be a point guard. The second squad he currently comes in with contains three shooters in Gordon, CV, and Daye that are all in the class of very good long distance shooters. And Bynum goes and gets his own every single damn game instead of driving, kicking, and getting them shots. Look at that second half against Atlanta. Bynum comes in, makes a nice pass to Chris Wilcox for a dunk – then he goes and forces the next three passes to Chris Wilcox for three turnovers or missed shots. Then he runs one set play for Ben Gordon (Gordon misses). After that, its all Will Bynum. I think he passed once to Daye on a delayed break (Daye missed).

    Currently constructed the first team lacks offense with both Big Ben and Monroe on the floor with T-Mac, Prince, & Stuck. T-Mac is being forced to look to score more because of the composition of the unit. The second team is made up of scorers, except for Chris Wilcox, who will get you the occasional dunk. As the point guard for the second unit, it is Will Bynum’s job to survey the matchups, find the holes in the defense, and get his boys the ball. That may mean making the hockey pass so that a teammate can make the actual assist. Will Bynum has no concept of that – he has to be the hero – the player making the shot or the direct pass for the assist. He basically has no concept of how to play team ball.

    • Feb 15, 201111:32 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      So help me, if you, king of the stupid, ill-conceived comments, starts another post with, “This is total garbage Hayes …” I will lose my mind.

      Read the post. Look at and consider the statistics. Read and consider the actual point I’m making. And if you don’t have anything productive to say, which you clearly don’t based on this moronic response, then shut up. It’s that simple man.

      If you have something to argue in what I wrote, what is it? Give me an example of something I wrote with a refutation that is based on something reasonable. Don’t accuse a post of lacking substance and then respond with something that clearly has nothing to offer.

    • Feb 15, 201111:44 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      And now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, onto the merit of your comments:

      “Will Bynum is supposed to be a point guard.”

      He is a point guard. He’s a shoot-first point guard who gets more assists than the other shoot-first point guards on the roster.

      “The second squad he currently comes in with contains three shooters in Gordon, CV, and Daye”

      And Bynum shoots a higher percentage than all three of them.

      “Look at that second half against Atlanta.”

      I did. The entire team played lousy. But it’s really stupid to identify a player based on a collective poor second half by the team rather than his collective body of work. For example, Austin Daye was horrible vs. Portland. He took one of the stupidest shots in a game I’ve seen any player take this season. Would it be fair for me to conclude that he’s a bad player based on that? Of course it wouldn’t.

      “As the point guard for the second unit, it is Will Bynum’s job to survey the matchups, find the holes in the defense, and get his boys the ball.”

      All of which he does. Look at his style — he’s a drive and kick player. Look at his assist rate — it’s the highest on the team. So could he pass more? Probably. Is he a black hole? Far from it.

      “he has to be the hero – the player making the shot or the direct pass for the assist. He basically has no concept of how to play team ball.”

      You are the king of statements you can’t possibly back up. Remember when you were so sure that Tayshaun Prince had told the coaching staff to take Daye out of the starting lineup and you posted nonsense about it every day? This is nonsense man. You are blasting a player who is out-performing his contract. That’s the bottom line here. Bynum produces significantly based on what he’s paid and he plays with significantly more effort than just about anyone on the team. Disprove those statements to me with any kind of relevant data.

  • Feb 15, 201112:06 pm
    by detroitpcb


    Your point: Bynum is outperforming his contract.

    My point: look at the team’s winning percentage.

    Your point: Bynum shoots a high percentage (52% in February)

    My point: first, that the second unit needs a facilitator and not a scorer at the point.
    second, what happens after Bynum gets his shot blocked or turns to ball over? Usually a fast break in the other direction.

    Your point: Other players deserve more criticism
    My point: Bynum is a point guard and point guards always get more criticism because they have more responsibility. After all, it is because Stuckey played out of position at the point that he has garnered so much criticism. Every single crit of Stuckey’s play at the point can be levelled against Bynum as well – and for the same reason: the point guard runs the offense and is responsible for how the defense is attacked and who gets the ball.

    Your point: Bynum gets his teammates the ball.
    My point: he is capable of doing it a lot more but he prefers to look for his shot. And given the players that are on the floor with him, this is a problem.

    i do not have statistics – just my eyesight – but it would be interesting to see what the ratio is with other point guards in terms of who takes more shots per minute.

  • Feb 15, 201112:43 pm
    by Laser


    you know me, hayes. i can’t disagree with any of this. i was the original bynum defender.
    the one thing i’d add, and i think it’s important, is how severely marginalized he’s been. it’s borderline criminal, but based on the commitments this team has made to “big name” guards (both financial and psychological), bynum’s been last in the pecking order since he got here, and there’s been nothing he can do about it. no matter how well he plays. it’s completely bogus.
    first it was iverson-stuckey-hamilton ahead of him, then gordon replaced iverson (eating up a massive chunk of cap in the process). all the while, bynum’s been the best facilitator of the bunch on a team loaded with supposed shooters but devoid of passers and playmakers. plus, he’s often been one of our better guards period. but all the while, he’s been behind all these guys in the pecking order, regardless of his play. and as badly as we’ve needed point play recently, it takes a name like tracy mcgrady to crack the starting rotation. and bynum wasn’t even given first crack at backup minutes. i wouldn’t complain if bynum had ever been given a proper chance in the years we’ve had him, but he wasn’t. if we had a bunch of big name forwards ahead of jerebko in the pecking order, he’d be dajuan f*cking summers right now and on his way to break through for someone else next season. it’s politics before basketball, and it’s been an epidemic around here lately.
    here’s an interesting stat i wish i’d been calculating this whole time: how often each player is the best piston in a given game. maybe i’m biased because i notice the underdog when he takes over, but i feel like since he’s been here he’s been the best piston more often than anyone else (on nights when one or two players stand out, which is far from every night). after the suns game the recap said, “it’s not often will bynum is the best player on the floor,” and my first thought was that it’s not actually that rare. certainly when we’re talking about the best piston. he’s shot and/or sparked us into way more wins than he’s been a major factor in our losses.
    the bottom line is that every second of PT this kid’s got in his life has been EARNED. the same can’t be said for any of our other guards. stuckey was drafted with a silver spoon in his mouth, gordon and rip had every opportunity to play, at least as much as they could have, given that they had to split time and hardly ever played with facilitators, but they were first in line for minutes no matter how bad they played. it happens that t-mac did good things for us right away, but we all know he would have been given every opportunity in the world. meanwhile, bynum’s in and out of the rotation. one of the toughest guys on a soft team, full of heart and fire, always giving 100%. chronically marginalized and blamed for this team’s problems.
    another bottom line: almost everyone’s been played out of position on this team since joe tossed it in the garbage. it started with stuckey at the point, then too many shooting guards, then not enough power forwards. but if this was a sensible team with players in suitable roles, bynum would be spelling an actual point guard for around 20 minutes a game, and nobody would complain. but, as with basically everyone, he’s been asked to do too much. and he’s the one with the ball in his hands, so he draws extra criticism.

  • Feb 15, 20112:21 pm
    by Geoff


    Disagree with blogger. Bynum is a backup PG. He completely dominates the ball.

    The difference between Tmac as PG and Bynum. Bynum is all out attack, while Tmac sets it up, patiently lets his guys get in position and starts the play. 

    If Bynum is a good starting PG. Allen Iverson was an all-time great PG. He passed just as much. Yet coaches wouldnt even play him at PG! I wonder why? Passing off your own attempts to score is not the same as running a team. Bynum is a good backup PG option to have on a team.

    • Feb 15, 20112:43 pm
      by Patrick Hayes



      I noted those differences in the post. I wasn’t advocating for Bynum as anything more than a backup PG. My point is just that he’s a fine player for what he is paid and for the role he’s in. He’s as good or better than most backup PGs in the league, and I fully believe if he were on a better team, you’d see him play more under control.

  • Feb 15, 20112:28 pm
    by Geoff


    It’s a good piece. I just didn’t like comparing Tmac to Bynum. Tmac is much more of an orchestrator and the type of guy you need running a team for the bulk of a game.

    I like Bynum and he deserves credit. He’s a good backup PG in the NBA.

    Tmac running the offense and the settling the team down is the reason Stuckey had 7 assists recently. It wasnt Stuckey. It was because Tmac had the O running smoothly, spacing the floor, working off each other. (And give Tay credit too)

    • Feb 15, 20112:48 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      I wasn’t suggesting Bynum is the better option. I was just using him as a comparison point since he’s the starter and Bynum backs him up. I actually think their contrasting styles are a strength the Pistons have.

  • Feb 15, 20112:37 pm
    by Geoff


    Damn we miss Chauncey. Tmac cant do it for 35 minutes and doesnt have the same control CBill had. This Pistons team is like 2 different teams with full team line changes. But for stretches Tmac reminds me of what it was like to have a real PG on a team again.

    We need a full time defensive paint presence and a good true PG. The two hardest things in the NBA to find. Ouch. I wish you could trade 8 wing players for those things.

    Hell, I just wish we could take back the BG/CV deals. Trade Rip for cap, resign Tay, Tmac reasonably and still have plenty of room for a Max player. We’d be sitting decent without BG/CV on the books. My guess is we’d be a better team the last two years w/o BG/CV. Let alone the restraints they put on the future.

  • Feb 15, 20114:51 pm
    by jgk281


    If the Pistons didnt have so much invested in their bench, I would say what Bynum provides would be a great thing to have for him to just come in and score in bursts, while the starters rest, especially for the price of his contract.

    Except, when their paying $20 mil to Gordon and Villanueva to give them that scoring burst off the bench, the backup PG making $3 mil/yr should have only 1 responsibility, which is getting the ball in the hands of the guys being paid $20 mil to score. And doing it early and often.

    For what Gordon and Villanueva are being paid to come off the bench, the ball should be in one of their hands 90% of the time. But with Will, the ball is in his hands 21 out of the 24 sec clock, then he might give it up to them, but only once he realizes he has no shot for himself, in a very Iverson-like fashion.

    But, to be honest, I dont know for certain that Bynum is the one that deserves blame here.

    Is Kuester instructing Bynum to play this way? If so, we cant blame Bynum for following the coaches game plan.

    And its not really Bynum or Kuester’s fault that Joe spent $20 mil on Gordon and Villanueva. If Bynum, who’s only making $3 mil/yr, is a better scorer than either Gordon or Villanueva, which he has proven to be at many times this year, then I cant blame Kuester for wanting him to be  the focal point.

    I think the bottom line is, Bynum can score, and he can be that scoring guard off the bench for a third of what Gordon costs, and produce more.

    So its not Bynum’s fault that he’s producing, its Dumars’ fault for not trading Gordon and Villanueva earlier in the year, when he said he was getting a lot of interest from other teams.


  • Feb 15, 20115:24 pm
    by trav


    I love bynum, but, you look at this in the wrong light.   It’s not that he sets up field goals more than T-mac.  It’s that he dominates the ball too much.  when at point guard it’s likely that bynum will have the ball in his hands for 85% of the shot clock before he shoots or dishes it off to the other players.  While T-mac sets up the offense and creates a more team oriented ball movement.
    However, if Will started and played 35 minutes he probably wouldn’t play with the ball dominating attitude.  He feels like he has to prove something every time he has the ball.

    • Feb 15, 20115:52 pm
      by Laser


      eh, i just don’t buy this “dominating the ball” complaint. you sort of covered your bases by adding that he’d probably play differently as the starter, and i think he would. but the guy’s actually maneuvering with the ball, getting himself into position to make a good play, creating diversions, allowing his teammates to get into advantageous positions. remember when stuckey dominated the ball? that usually consisted of standing at the top of the arc dribbling more-or-less in place. his penetration was rarely very effective when he spent much time dribbling around. sometimes bynum dribbles out the clock, but he’s much better at actually taking advantage of openings and opportunities that develop.
      and we can’t forget that his role is to be a spark off the bench and create chaos. put the guy in the starting lineup and tell him it’s his team to run, and you can put some higher expectations on him. i bet he’d relish that chance.

  • [...] • Are Detroit fans — and beat writers — unfairly critical of Will Bynum?  [...]

  • Feb 15, 20117:10 pm
    by Fennis


    re “dominating the ball”
    i think p.h. makes a number of good points, but ultimately i agree with george and trav.
    bynum is not a bad player and the pistons would be foolish to get rid of him. i think the frustration is that he has a lot of room to improve as a backup pg, but seems to be either getting little or no guidance as how to run an offense (and play stout d) or he is simply ignoring the guidance offered.
    the guy should not be holding the ball as long as he does in the half court set. it’s bad basketball, plain and simple. i’m not sure numbers can refute this fundamental principle of the game. i honestly think that this is the bynum-bashers’ only gripe, but it’s a big one. it’s as though bynum doesn’t trust anyone else on that unit to make a play. either he makes the play or the play doesn’t get made. well, austin daye has a lot of skills — passing, shooting, and the guy can drive. but when playing with bynum he can’t utilize his skill set because bynum either sets him up for a jump shot or dumps it off in the paint late in the shot clock. and i think this is the point. the pg determines whether a team is able to utilize all of the talent on the floor. if there is only one guy handling the ball, the rest of the unit is relegated to one or two dribbles and a shot late in the shot clock. in that scenario you’re getting a lot of out your point guard, but very little out of everyone else.
    will is an awesome full court player, and that should be acknowledged. his defense has been adequate over the past week. but his pg savvy is lacking, and it hurts the chemistry of the second unit, regardless of his individual statistics

  • Feb 15, 20119:13 pm
    by BIG MARV


    I think we can give the will bynum book report a rest because none of these guys are good and now the inmates are running the prison camp because joe is not putting his foot down and the players are cussing out kuester and disrespecting him. It reminds me of the movie “lean on me” in the begining of the movie where the students just took over the school beating up teachers and students selling drugs to the teachers. Its all bad now I think Joe should give Q a long vaction after all-star break cut him loose and let darrell walker coach the guys for the rest of the season.

  • Feb 15, 201110:08 pm
    by David


    Resign Tay and Tmac: Yes – if we can
    Trades that must happen:  BG,CV,DS,RS those have to happen!!!!
    Will Bynum is real:  Yes sir!!!!
    What about Rip Hamilton:  I don’t know anymore – Let him tell you. I believe the moment we trade him (especially if he lands with CB) that team is on again – can you imagne Chauncy,Hamilton,Stoudemire,Anthony, and Mozgov for cleanup…in NYC!!!! Nobody tell me this team is too old (people are trying to get LA to drink that water the way we did in Detroit) – Look at Boston and the Spurs (they never drink the water – as a matter of fact the Spurs tend to get older – because old generally wins championships – haven’t seen a “young” team do it yet).

    Young teams – unless they get a bonified superstar – are always bad teams. 

    Back to the subject – Will Bynum is good for the D, he is definately a keeper!

  • Feb 15, 201111:40 pm
    by acdctime


    Pat if i came cross as rude i’m sorry because that was not my intention

    • Feb 16, 20119:06 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      I didn’t really take it as rude. I was just pointing out that I did address some of the points you were raising in the post.

  • Feb 16, 20118:51 am
    by RPM


    Tracy McGrady has generally been panned by fans because his passing has added a dimension to the starting lineup the Pistons were lackin.
    “Panned” means negative. I don’t think you meant negative did you?

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