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Tracy McGrady is the new Rip Hamilton after picking up his second straight DNP-CD

Two games into John Kuester’s ‘we ain’t got no starters no mo’ decree, and results are mixed at best.

The good? Young players Austin Daye (39 minutes against Minnesota) and Greg Monroe (35 minutes) seem to be featured prominently in the new-look rotation. Monroe continued to do what he does, getting a double-double against the T-Wolves with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Daye scored 22 points (even if his shot failed him a bit in the second half). Rodney Stuckey who, let’s face it, has very little value if he doesn’t figure out how to play competent point guard minutes, seems to be getting one more crack at the position and against the T-Wolves, he was efficient (10 assists, 2 turnovers) and unselfish, passing on some of the contested shots and wild drives that made his first tenure at the PG spot such a poor fit.

The bad? Tracy McGrady is probably well on his way to replacing Rip Hamilton as the resident disgruntled veteran. After the Milwaukee game, McGrady was mystified by the fact that he didn’t play. After sitting for the second straight game against Minnesota, McGrady isn’t going to get any happier. It’s frankly strange that he’s gone from semi-productive (by this team’s standards) starter to forgotten man, and with his benching and Hamilton returning to the rotation as if everything is good, it seems like there’s more to the story than is being let on. Did McGrady have a bigger role in the so-called boycott than most fans suspected? Did he, like Hamilton earlier this season, have a fight that was unreported in practice with Kuester?

Unlike Hamilton, who is signed beyond this season to a huge contract, thus likely making him someone the Pistons will have to mend fences with in the event they can’t trade him, there is little incentive for the team to make things work with McGrady. Maybe he didn’t deserve to be benched. But if Kuester, who is no doubt coaching for his job over the final 20 games, has the option of upsetting a veteran who is likely part of the team (like it or not) for the foreseeable future vs. one his is likely to leave as a free agent, it makes sense that he’d try and fix whatever is broken with Hamilton rather than continue to give a rental player minutes.

The positive from the Minnesota game, however, is that several Pistons seem to have picked up an important element of McGrady’s game: everyone moved the ball. The team 29 assists and just 10 turnovers. Every guard who played had at least three assists. At times, with six different guys attempting at least nine shots but no one attempting more than 18, the Pistons gave glimpses of what could be a fun offensive unit.

But to be clear, they didn’t give glimpses of a good team. The score was relatively close most of the way, but Minnesota — a 14 win team coming in — got anything it wanted offensively. Johnny Flynn, who the T-Wolves were begging to give away at the trade deadline, had 14 assists off the bench. Luke Ridnour didn’t miss a shot. Kevin Love had another 20-20 game. Anthony Randolph, who couldn’t beat out this guy for minutes in New York, went for 19 and 10 off the bench. Lazar Hayward (who?) had a career-high 16 points in 22 minutes.

Thank God Darko Milicic didn’t play, he would’ve had a field day. The Pistons’ lack of defense was alarming, and watching virtually every minute of Pistons basketball this season, poor defense is the norm. This was beyond poor. No one closed out on shooters. No one fought over screens. No one bumped cutters. The mantra among fans most of the season has been for the team to play the young guys in prominent roles, taking minutes from guys like Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. For guys like Daye, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, in particular, games like this don’t help their case that they are capable of playing with any toughness whatsoever at the defensive end. I understand why fans want to see more of the young players. Just don’t expect better basketball to result from the fact that they seem to be getting more minutes.

15 Comments

  • Mar 2, 201111:24 pm
    by eshai

    Reply

    This has to be blamed on Joe for over-stocking the perimeter position, forcing one of the players to the inactive list.

    Though, it probably has more to do with Mcgrady laughng at Kuester, and Rip apologzing so now Rip is #1 son and McGrady is the outcast. Its really ridiculous that this goes on in professional basketball.

    Great games for Monroe, Daye, and Stuckey though. Thats all I care about. Could these 3 become our Big 3 in a few years?

    • Mar 3, 20111:01 am
      by BIG MARV

      Reply

      Stuckey will never be a big scorer bro you can forget that he’s a 6th man at best and Imma say daye also, those guys dont have the killer instinct to finish out opponents and put up big numbers every night. I will give you good role players mabey.. but you build the team around monroe and Jerebko get a good decent Pg and a center that will be nasty down low grab rebounds and play defense, but I will let stuckey go cause he’s gonna expect big money here if he wants to stay and I think he should find it somewhere else.

      • Mar 3, 20113:32 am
        by eshai

        Reply

        I’ve always said Stuckey was a 6th man, and I really wouldn’t care if we didnt re-sign him, but these last few games he’s impressed me. I hope your right that he will never be a big scorer, because I dont think the team would win much if our PG was a big time scorer. I prefer a game like he had tonight – takes 10 shots, gets 10 asts. Thats what a true PG does, 1:1 Ast to FGA.

        As for Daye, too early to proclaim him nothing but a role player, and so far he’s been pretty clutch at the end of games from what I’ve seen.

        As for Jerebko, if you consider Stuckey and Daye role players, then what the heck is Jerebko? He looked like the definition of a role player last year.

        And Monroe is our Center. We’re set at Center for the next 10 yrs. We need a PF.

        To me, its Monroe to build around, and everyone else is expendable, but I wouldn’t have a problem keeping Stuckey, Daye, and Jerebko, provided we have the right coach to win games for us. That group of 4 isnt going to win anymore games next year if they dont get a good coach.

        When your PG gets a double-double in pts/asts, your Center gets a double-double, virtually of the 20/10 variety in pts/rebs, and your top wing player gets you 22 pts, thats all you can ask for from those 3 positions. They need a coach now that can put them in position to win these games.

        • Mar 3, 20118:43 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Jerebko is a much better player than Daye. Daye might be the better prospect, but Jerebko impacts the game in a variety of ways. Daye is simply a scorer right now, he doesn’t defend particularly well or create shots for others on offense. Not saying he won’t do those things, but Jerebko has the ability to score with no plays being run for him (moving without the ball/offensive rebounding), he’s a good defensive player and he’s a decent rebounder.

    • Mar 3, 20118:41 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Well, to be fair, I don’t think Dumars intended on all of those wings being here after the deadline. I think he signed McGrady hoping he could trade him at some point, or have the flexibility to trade Prince and/or Hamilton for frontcourt help after the ownership situation worked itself out.

  • Mar 2, 201111:54 pm
    by wowzer

    Reply

    BUY TMAC OUT now. let him go join a contender.Also Kuester will never get a head coaching job in the NBA again.

    • Mar 3, 20118:44 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      The deadline has passed for players who are bought out to join new teams and be on the playoff roster. So McGrady could very well be bought out if they both wanted and he agreed to give back some money, but any team that signed him couldn’t use him on its postseason roster.

  • Mar 3, 201112:23 am
    by dontsignsucky

    Reply

    there will be no playoffs t-mac wont resign prince is done in detroit ben will retire let the young guys play show the skills they have and see what we can get for them sucky needs to go he will NEVER be a reliable point guard yes tonight he had a nice game but most of the time he forces bad shots gets called for the charge and cant finish at the rim very rearly gets the and1 hes a scorer thats what he does let him tell it only one problem rodney…..you cant score your never the best option. so we get another high pick maybe we can find something in this week draft and move a few guys this summer hopefully ben and charile v for 3 lol is that all he shoots? on another note i would love to see trico white before the season is over any chance of that?

    • Mar 3, 20118:49 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      If he gets healthy, they’ll most likely send White to their D-League affiliate to play a lot of minutes and get in shape.

  • Mar 3, 20111:52 am
    by Fennis

    Reply

    PH — I think you nailed it. Rip is playing because he’ll likely be here next year. Well, that, and the fact that a series of T-Mac DNPs is less likely to grab ESPN front-page headlines than continued Rip DNPs. Kuester was simply exhausted by the Rip distraction and turned into a less onerous T-Mac distraction. In the process, the integrity of the team has been compromised.

    • Mar 3, 20118:50 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Point taken, although I’m not sure the team had that much integrity to be compromised in the first place at this point.

  • Mar 3, 20119:07 am
    by wowzer

    Reply

    Well if he cant be bought out then he is screwed. Kuester is a big child who has no diplomatic skills and will bench people f they do him wrong on a whim.This also hurts Tmacs chance of getting a contract next season also.I still think he wont play another minute as long as Kuester is around 

  • Mar 3, 201111:05 am
    by Fennis

    Reply

    Re Stuckey’s future at PG:
     
    I totally disagree with those who are negative about Stuckey’s future as the PG of the Pistons. A few points:
     
    1. Stuckey is in the process of converting to the point guard positions and has NEVER had competent coaching to assist him in that transition. He had one year under Flip where he was often injured and played few minutes off the bench, followed by Curry and Kuester who are not capable of maximizing talent. Bottom line: Poor mentorship. If Doug Collins had taken the reigns I think we’d have seen a maturation. (Stuckey is 25!)
     
    2. Chauncey Billups wasn’t recognized as a viable PG until his late 20s. If you remember correctly he had a great second-half of the season with MN when Terrell Brandon went down, yet the Pistons were bidding against themselves for his services. No one was interested. He was seen as a tweener who would never be a top-flight guard. After playing under Carlisle for two years (3?), he blossomed under one of the greatest coaches ever, Larry Brown. Now, people just assume that Chauncey was destined to be a great PG. It’s simply not true. PG is the toughest position in basketball, and large, shoot-first PGs like Chauncey and Stuckey need to be mentored to make the jump to elite status.
     
    3. Stuckey is still much younger than Billups was when Billups matured into a top-flight PG. And Stuckey has had a FAR more successful four seasons in the league than did Billups who got traded three or four times and couldnt get on the floor with some of the worst teams in the league.
     
    Fans have to be patient with these young guys, and so does Joe Dumars. It pains me to watch Aaron Afflalo, who is, in my opinion better than any other two-guard on our team. We gave this guy away for nothing to clear the way for Ben Gordon. Amir Johnson was a very frustrating player for us, he would be a fantastic rotation player at the 4/5. Fans want everything now, and assume that the player that they see on the court today (or even for the past two seasons) is the same player they’ll see two or three years from now when that player reaches his prime. It almost never works that way. Stuckey is a frustrating player, but for a few stretches each year we see flashes of a dominant player. Stick with him.

    • Mar 3, 20112:44 pm
      by rick

      Reply

      I have to agree with you 100 percent. We live in a society that expects results now instead of having to be patient. We were garbage for like 13  years before we won a playoff series and now that we are out of the playoffs everyone is raising hell. A;; these guys in here would shit themselves if Stuckey was the point for Miami or Orlando next year. Knick’s maybe and that is just throwing hypothetical’s out there. Who knew Chauncey would blossom into Mr. Big Shot when he got here? Stuckey could do like wise if he had actual finishers on the team. Its funny how everyone complains about him , but act like we have the type of players that finish at the basket that Rondo has, Paul has, Bibby has, Billups etc and so forth. If we had those type of players then in my opinion the verdict would be in.

      • Mar 3, 20113:21 pm
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        Somewhere, Mike Bibby is smiling after you just listed him with the names of three of the top PGs in the league.

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