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Archive → March, 2011

Richard Hamilton and John Kuester don’t hate each other, but underlying problems remain a concern

(Video by Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press)

Richard Hamilton, after the Pistons beat the Pacers yesterday, was asked whether he and John Kuester were on the same page now.

“Yessir,” Hamilton said. “All the way, 100.”

Let’s flash back to a Feb. 7 article by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Rip was asked: "Do you think it will ev­er get back to the way it was be­tween you two?"

Hamilton’s im­me­diate response was "nah."

Af­ter a short pause, he added: "I mean I don’t have a prob­lem with him, but it will nev­er get back to the way it was."

This sounds like two guys who figured out that the season is almost over, so they agreed to forgive and forget because they won’t have to deal with each other in a few weeks. In fact, Hamilton isn’t even hiding that.

“It was just one of them things where we were like, you know what, ‘This is what I want from you, Coach,’ ” Hamilton said. “ ‘This is what I want from you, Rip.’ Let’s go ahead and ride out for the rest of the season.”

Credit these two for reducing the misery the level of these last few weeks. I’m pretty surprised they’ve come this far.

But there are no signs the Pistons have solved two of their underlying problems. Their coach doesn’t communicate effectively with his players, and their highest-paid player doesn’t treat his coaches with respect.

John Salley puts Scottie Pippen in his place

Remember what Scottie Pippen said about the Bad Boys? John Salley does. Via Chris Iott of MLive, here’s what Salley said about the Bulls:

"We beat them psychologically, and obviously it’s still working."

In win over Pacers, Austin Daye makes case to start at small forward next year

For a Pistons team that’s often already in offseason mode, Austin Daye burst into what’s hopefully next-season mode against the Pacers.

Want to start next season? Keep playing like this.

As an ugly season nears its end, the Pistons must identify a blueprint for improvement, or they’ll sit in the same position at this time next year. Tonight, Daye drew himself (albeit, in pencil) into those plans as their starting small forward next season.

He had seven points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal – numbers that fail to properly describe his impact and promise – in  a 100-88 win over the Pacers tonight.

A 5-0 Indiana run to start the fourth quarter against five Pistons bench players will give John Kuester haters ammunition. Lottery lovers will bemoan Detroit’s victory. Richard Hamilton fans will use his 23-point, six-assist performance to claim he deserved more minutes all along.

But the honest-to-goodness story of this game was one any Pistons fan can support: Austin Daye is getting better, and he’s inching closer to deserving a starting spot next year. 

Daye missed his first five shots and played nearly six minutes before making any statistical contribution outside of field-goal attempts. He seemed mired in the funk that had permeated over his game the last couple weeks.

Sure, Daye played fairly well against the Cavaliers last night, but he hardly proved the performance was anything more than a brief respite from his slump. Tonight, Daye built on that Cleveland game and, for the first time in a long time, looked like a starting-caliber NBA player.

After his rough start, Daye stopped looking for his shot – and get this, he still helped the team! Think the Pistons could find a starting spot for a player who can positively impact the game without looking to score?

Daye dunked and made a layup on assists from Tayshaun Prince and Hamilton and grabbed two rebounds late in the second quarter, helping Detroit take a one-point halftime lead.

The Pacers never led again. Daye made sure of that.

In the third quarter, Daye spearheaded one of the Pistons’ best stretches of basketball this season. Defensively, he stuck in front of his man, deflected passes and rotated quickly. Offensively, he moved the ball and spaced the floor.

Daye has shown he can shoot like a starter. Tonight, he indicated he can play like a starter.

Finally, Daye shot, making a 3-pointer that served as an exclamation point on a 21-3 run, which gave Detroit an 18-point lead.

After the game, Daye was asked about the playoffs, which Detroit still has a slim mathematical chance of making.

“I think about it all the time,” Daye said after laughing enough to prevent himself from actually processing how naïve those thoughts are.

Next year, Daye might have more of a chance to do something about it. That begins with securing a starting spot now.

Charlie Villanueva takes one step forward, no steps backward

Charlie Villanueva scored 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes. But that’s not really the point, is it?

It would be easy to look at Villanueva’s performance as vindication. He received a DNP-CD against Cleveland and didn’t enter tonight’s game until the fourth quarter. In some ways, every shot Villanueva made was a “take that” to John Kuester, whose quick hook of Villanueva against Miami sparked the pointing-barking-benching-quote-quote parade.

But we already knew Villanueva is capable of superb offensive performances. He still hasn’t proven he can consistently deliver them or rebound or defend.

Villanueva did everything that was asked of him tonight – and more. But he never really had the opportunity to prove his rebounding or defensive mettle. On nights hye has those chances, he’ll have have to take advantage. Until he does that, I can’t put much more faith in him a player.

By the way, this was just Villanueva’s second game where he shot perfectly from the field. No 1-for-1s or 2-for-2, just a lonely 3-for-3 as a Buck in 2006.

That says a lot about his game – trigger happy when he thinks he has it going and not accurate enough to actually sustain it.

I don’t want to take too much away from Villanueva’s superb night, but it was only one night from a player who’s definitely capable of superb nights. I hope he’s not too satisfied with how he played, though.

I’d like to see him have a superb season, and maybe even a superb career – and that will take not resting on his laurels after one superb night.

Richard Hamilton turns back the clock

Richard Hamilton has played like HOAM, the superhero version of himself, so often lately, he as might as well wear his mask every game. Wait, he sort of already does that.

With 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight, Hamilton is averaging 18.75 points on 48.74 percent shooting in his last eight games.

The last time he scored so many points in an eight-game stretch was March of last year.

The last time he shot such a high percentage in an eight-game stretch was February 2009. (He also averaged 21.63 points per game in that span.)

Maybe this allows the Pistons to trade Hamilton in the summer. Maybe this convinces them to trade Ben Gordon. Maybe they’ll draft two shooting guards and keep both Hamilton and Gordon. Who knows?

In the meantime, I’m just enjoying watching Hamilton play with a passion and energy I haven’t seen from him in years.

Why are the Pistons favored? Did nobody in Las Vegas see them play the Cavaliers?


Teams: Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons

Date: March 26,  2011

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus


Pistons: 25-47

Pacers: 32-41

Probable starters



  • Darren Collison
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • Tyler Hansbrough
  • Roy Hibbert

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons -2

Over/under: 203

Score: Pistons win, 102.5-100.5

Three things to watch

1. Charlie Villanueva’s role

When John Kuester removed Charlie Villanueva from the Heat game, Villanueva publicly showed his dismay by pointing at Kuester. Kuester publicly reprimanded Villanueva by not playing him against the Cavaliers.

Is the feud over?

Probably. Kuester has done a remarkable job of showing restraint and not holding grudges this season. So, Villanueva can likely go back to seeing his typical 10 minutes of meaningful action per game.

In essence, I’m predicting the Pistons will resolve a problem tonight without actually making any progress toward a solution to anything.

2. Greg Monroe hitting the wall

As Patrick noted, Greg Monroe had a pretty lousy game against the Cavaliers, who dominated him on the defensive glass, where he grabbed just one rebound.

John Kuester didn’t play Monroe in the fourth quarter, perhaps saving him for tonight. If Monroe doesn’t look better against Indiana, it’s worth considering the possibility that he’s run out of gas. Of course, it would still be too early to say anything definitively. Just something to watch.

3. Rodney Stuckey starting over Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady will miss tonight’s game with back and leg troubles (oy!), according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Rodney Stuckey will start in his place, and Will Bynum will re-enter the rotation.

I’m not even going to pretend to come up with a reason this matters at this point.

Pregame Reading

Formally introducing Jakob Eich

In December, some guy named Jakob e-mailed me about this post he had just written showing how Greg Monroe could be effective in the high post. I was blown away. I immediately linked the post, and we’ve e-mailed back and forth several times since.

That was Jakob Eich – the newest member of the PistonPowered team.

From Detroit Bad Boys to the Detroit Free Press, Pistons coverage is plentiful online. But one area I always found lacking was Xs-and-Os analysis. Thankfully, that’s Jakob’s specialty.

I always learn something from his screenshot-based posts, and he’s bringing them to PistonPowered as regular guest posts. In fact, he’s already written a few. Jakob will still post from time to time at his original blog, Bynumite Blog, so make sure to keep an eye on that.

I know I speak for Patrick and Graham when I say we’re all very excited to have Jakob on board. I asked Jakob to share a few details about himself so everyone can get to know him. As usual, he went above and beyond:

I was born in 1988 in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg has a population of 1.8 mil. Most Americans think of it as a smallish town somewhere in Germany, because they have mostly heard of Berlin, Cologne or Munich. Just like you have lots of different regions in the USA, Germany has lots of different areas as well. Hamburg is not really comparable with Munich. The German stereotype is we wear leather-pants all the time, drink beer and are rural – at least that is what I experienced during my stay in the U.S. In Hamburg, we don’t have any of that. It is a city just like an American city with similar size, we have McDonalds Burger King and so on.

My parents both enjoy athletics. When I was 4 or 5 years old, they, of course, put me in soccer, which is the favorite pastime in good old Germany. I immediately loved it, but I also started pursuing other sports like ping pong, badminton, golf, judo, tennis and gymnastics. Basketball is just not that big over here. We don’t get the NBA on regular cable, and when I was young, the only known German basketball player was Detlef Schrempf. Michael Jordan was an icon over here, too – actually, he was more of a myth. In third grade, we had horrible baskets at my school, and one month the so-called “soccer cage” was closed, so we had to find another activity for our breaks. We started playing basketball. We did not really play basketball, but something similar to horse. In my memory, I usually beat my friends, but they might like to tell you a different story.

In fifth grade, I finally joined a team and started playing real basketball. I was a real big kid at the age of 13. I was 6-foot-1 and weighed nearly 200 pounds. The only team was made for guys born in 1985, so I was three years younger. Nevertheless, I still went to practice every time and worked really hard. I was far from the best, but it felt quite great not being the tallest for once in my life. I had to earn respect instead of being given the respect due to my height. I never bullied anyone, I was a nice kid, I just had always been bigger. Later, I went to a different club a little further away, SC Rist Wedel. They have one of the best youth programs in the country. Several national players have been with the team, such as Marvin Willoughby, he played with Dirk Nowitzki as well and is now a tutor to immigrants in the area. He is a great guy! I played competitive basketball for three season there, playing in state championships and even in a national championship once. I wasn’t the best player on the team, I was a rotation player, sometimes starting five. I didn’t grow much after my 13th birthday!

I then decided to go abroad for one year of school. I had always been fascinated with the American way of life, and my preference for basketball and rap-music only added to it. My parents ran the New York City Marathon in 1999, and even though I didn’t speak English at the time, I was amazed with the big buildings and friendliness of the people. My sister participated in an exchange program in 2001 and again, I was fascinated and decided I wanted to do the same. I was picked (sounds like the draft) by a lovely host-family called the Lincolns who live in Durand, a few miles outside of Flint. They are the kindest people out there, and I appreciate everything they did and have done for me. Arriving in a strange country at the age of 17, thousands of miles away from home is an odd experience. They made the transition as easy as possible, and it’s a nice feeling to have a second family like that. I truly consider them family. Some people aren’t even blessed with one, I have two. My hostmom came to all of the soccer and basketball games, and every time I got hurt, she would jump out of her seat and be completely miserable until she saw I wasn’t actually hurt. My mom was always worried about me being so far away and not being able to see how I was doing. When she realized I had great support, she calmed down. I made the varsity team in basketball. I was fairly proud of that, although we didn’t win a game all season long.

Prior to my exchange year, I considered myself a Minnesota Timberwolves fan. I wasn’t as much a fan of Minnesota, but of KG! This guy was amazing! He played my position, but he could do it all. My teammates were fascinated with guys like Iverson, Bryant or T-Mac. I was always rooting for KG! During the 04-05 season I started watching NBA games for the first time. I remember watching the Pistons-Spurs game 7 in 2005. I knew then I was going to Michigan. I stayed up with a friend until 6 a.m. to watch the game and the ceremony. Had I only known I was about to fall in love with Detroit Basketball. During my exchange year, I didn’t miss one game on television. It was the year we won 64 games, and I will never cope with the loss against the Heat in the ECF! I believe in team basketball, and I believed in all the guys on the team! I talked to them during the games, and for every game I wore my ‘Sheed jersey in order to show support. This team to this day represents everything I want from basketball. I will never forget the great games, the ball movement, Rip’s buzzer beater over the Celtics with 0.8 seconds on the clock. The Pistons and Kobe’s January were truly great.

Right now, I’m back living in Hamburg. Whenever I go back to the US, I kind of feel like an alien. It’s not the same. Maybe I have changed, maybe the people have changed, probably both. You have two or three weeks to see your friends and after that, you are gone. You don’t get the chance to spend much time, just a little bit. You stay in touch via Facebook and try your best. I’m studying English and Economics and I’m aspiring to become a writer, hopefully a basketball writer. I might get a simple job somewhere and just live my life and be content. I would like to pursue my dream, though. I am 22, I won’t become a basketball player anymore, I’m still playing a lot and I still love it, I won’t make it to the big leagues, I know it! I especially like analyzing games and looking at the details. When I started doing that on Bynumite Blog, I didn’t think anyone would appreciate it, turns out, there are more Pistons lunatics out there than I thought. I just enjoy breaking down plays and sharing my knowledge and passion for the game with as many people as possible. The more the merrier, right?

Alright, I hope that was enough of an introduction. Have a great day!

Jared Sullinger says he’ll return to Ohio State – good or bad news for the Pistons?

Ohio State freshman big man Jared Sullinger said he will return to Ohio State, according to Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com.

On one hand, I was never a big fan of Sullinger’s NBA prospects. He’s relatively athletic and undersized – a difficult combination to overcome.

On the other hand, this makes a weak draft even weaker. Although I didn’t want the Pistons to draft him, Sullinger won’t go to a team ahead of them, which would have allowed another player to slip to Detroit.

On yet another hand (clearly, this requires superhuman extremities to explain), Ohio State just lost an emotional game to Kentucky, and Sullinger has plenty of time to change his mind.

Activity of Cleveland bigs exposes early inactivity of Pistons frontcourt

This is J.J. Hickson’s shot chart from tonight:

It’s a little hard to tell because they’re right on top of each other, but that little jumbled area around the basket is where he made eight of his nine shots. He scored 24 points with 15 rebounds on 9-for-13 shooting. Throw in the 5-for-7 shooting of starting frontcourt partner Ryan Hollins and you’ll see why Greg Monroe didn’t play in the fourth quarter of the Pistons’ 97-91 loss. Monroe’s numbers weren’t bad — 11 points and 8 rebounds — but he just couldn’t keep up with Hickson or Hollins when he was in the game. Earlier this week, Dan Feldman linked to a David Thorpe excerpt suggesting Monroe should work on improving the energy/passion level he plays at, trying to become more like Joakim Noah in that regard. Tonight was a good example of why that would benefit Monroe and the Pistons.

Hickson was a terror. He was active. Every time Monroe turned his back, Hickson was cutting. He set hard screens, rolled to the basket on sharp cuts, absorbed contact and finished. He played with activity, but more importantly, with passion that his teammates fed off of, setting the tone for the game and helping Cleveland build a lead.

Monroe also wasn’t a presence on the defensive glass. Seven of his eight rebounds were offensive, which led to Hickson and Luke Harangody (11 offensive rebounds combined) getting on the offensive glass for Cleveland and converting easy putbacks. Now Monroe’s seven offensive boards for the Pistons were certainly a value by giving the team extra possessions, but the difference was Harangody and Hickson were also a presence on the defensive glass, combining for 13 defensive boards to Monroe’s one.

Monroe will get there. He’s a unique talent, and as a rookie, probably not entirely comfortable asserting his voice on a largely veteran team. John Kuester will get plenty of criticism for not playing Monroe down the stretch, but it’s not an unconscionably bad decision. Monroe was part of a lineup that put the Pistons behind, and a small lineup of Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye and Chris Wilcox in the fourth helped the Pistons play faster and erase an eight-point deficit with a couple of chances to tie or take the lead late. When Monroe started the season out of the rotation, he responded by working hard, earning minutes and becoming arguably the Pistons best player. I don’t think anyone views him as a finished product, including himself, so perhaps having to sit the fourth quarter will help push him to take that next step in his development.

Charlie Villanueva gets the night off

Charlie Villanueva didn’t have the chance to be upset about being removed from the game for poor defensive effort tonight. He was never put in in the first place. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press summed things up best with this tweet:

Sad thing is, Villanueva could’ve actually helped tonight. The Cavs murdered the Pistons on the glass, so having to guard a 3-point shooting threat would’ve pulled at least one big away from the basket defensively. But it’s hard to fault Kuester for taking the stand. Villanueva simply hasn’t earned the right to question his role because he hasn’t played well enough to deserve a primary role in Detroit.

Hoping for a Daye breakthrough

The one Piston I’d love to see close the season strong more than any other is Daye. Whether or not he can develop into a starting caliber player is a huge part of this team’s future. The skill level is certainly there, the consistency is what has been missing. Against Cleveland, he had a solid all-around game, scoring 12 points, shooting the ball well from distance and collecting seven rebounds. To see Daye put up similar numbers in the final 10 games would give huge hope for the team going into the offseason and would hopefully motivate Daye to have a great summer, then come back and win that small forward spot next season.

The playoff push starts now: Favorable remaining schedule begins in Cleveland tonight


Teams: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers

Date: March 25,  2011

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit


Pistons: 25-46

Cavs: 13-57

Probable starters



  • Ramon Sessions
  • Anthony Parker
  • Alonzo Gee
  • Samardo Samuels
  • J.J. Hickson

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons -1.5

Over/under: 200.5

Score: Pistons win, 101-99.5

Three things to watch

1. Bad final stretch for lottery position

The end of the season is near for the Pistons, but for fans hoping not to have a repeat of last year’s meaningless season-ending win streak that cost the Pistons a few lottery balls, the schedule isn’t going to cooperate. The Pistons play Cleveland (twice), Indiana (twice), Washington, New Jersey, Charlotte, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The only games against good teams are against Boston and Chicago. Now, it’s sill to assume the Pistons are better than any of those bad teams I just listed, but it’s also totally feasible for the Pistons to win seven or eight of those 11 games, which is sure to provide plenty of fodder for the, "OMG! Stop winning meaningless games!" crowd. Relax, though, everyone. Last year, things worked out OK. The Pistons may slipped back in the draft, but still may have ended up with the second best player in the draft in Greg Monroe.

2. Stopping Ramon Sessions

There are no bright spots for the Cavs this season, but Sessions has finally got the chance at a full-time starting job, and he’s been pretty good. On top of that, he always shreds the Pistons. In eight games vs. Detroit in his career, Sessions is averaging nearly 18 points per game, his highest scoring average against any team.

3. Manny Harris still seeing time

For an undrafted free agent, Manny Harris has been a pretty sound fine for the Cavs. He’s probably not a future All-Star, but he at least looks like he’ll be a reliable backup in the NBA. He’s only shooting 39 percent on the season, but he started off in a pretty bad shooting slump, and his 38 percent 3-point shooting is a decent mark considering he hit that shot inconsistently at Michigan.

Pregame Reading

Is John Kuester or Greg Monroe funnier?

Let’s start with John Kuester. Richard Hamilton’s son, Richard Hamilton II, who’s nicknamed “Deuce,” visited the Pistons’ practice yesterday. Chris Iott of MLive.com (emphasis mine):

Deuce did what you would expect any 3-year-old to do. He rolled a ball around, tugged on his dad’s shirt, took all the balls off the ball rack and had several onlookers smiling.

"Good quicks," Kuester said when asked to assess Deuce’s game. "Loves to come off screens. Very aggressive. Getting better on defense. And we’re communicating extremely well."

Also, check out Greg Monroe’s interview with Heather Zara for Pistons.com. His bit on peacock feathers is something.

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Ben Hansbrough

Although Ben Hansbrough’s college career got a slower start than older brother Tyler’s, the younger bro had a standout senior season and was named Big East Player of the Year. His shooting ability will certainly attract NBA attention.


Measurables: 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, senior G from Notre Dame

Key stats: 18.4 points,4.3 assists per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 43 percent from three

Projected: Second round

How would he help the Pistons?

Hansbrough’s 3-point shooting is his most NBA-ready skill, shooting 44 percent this season from three and shooting above 40 percent from long range and three of his four college seasons. The fact that as a senior at Notre Dame he showed the ability to not only shoot, but create shots for others, has made him more of an NBA prospect than he was considered to be a year ago. The Pistons have only two players — Austin Daye and Ben Gordon — who can be called natural 3-point shooters, so adding a player with Hansbrough’s stroke in the second round would certainly give them more flexibility to put shooters on the floor to compliment the team’s slashers.

The fact that he excelled as Notre Dame’s point guard this season, particularly in the pick and roll, should make him even more appealing to the Pistons considering the team has yet to find the long-term answer at that position. Hansbrough may not be a NBA starter, but his shooting, toughness and his competitiveness are three key areas where he could help improve the Pistons.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Adding any guard who isn’t going to be an immediate starter is not the best proposition for the Pistons. Hansbrough, even if he will be a solid NBA player at some point, wouldn’t be likely to crack the rotation barring a trade or two by the Pistons to clear out some guards. And although he proved to be a solid point guard at the college level this season, it remains to be seen if he has the quickness, ball-handling or finishing ability to excel at that position as anything more than a role player in the NBA.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

SHe generates over a third of his offense in pick-and-roll and isolation situations, where he is extremely efficient. He has a below average first step for an NBA point guard, but he has good size and strength and is a strong ball handler capable of changing speeds effectively. He shows choppy footwork and has the ability to use quick spin moves to keep defenders off balance and draw fouls.

From ESPN:

Hansbrough may not be the sexiest prospect in the draft, but he’s one of the most productive. Hansbrough has been one of the Top 10 players in the country this year, and does just about everything for his team. He’ll never fit the physical profile that NBA scouts are looking for, but his toughness and shooting ability are a big plus. Think of him as a smaller version of his brother, Tyler.

From the Washington Post:

The Hansbroughs are close — Tyler recently said his younger brother is “still my favorite teammate ever” — and being separated by 130 miles has made it easy for them to keep tabs on each other. They’re also extremely competitive.

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores