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Austin Daye: John Kuester played favorites, but that happens everywhere

Austin Daye, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

"They were used to Larry’s (Brown) tough love, and (Kuester) wasn’t that way," Daye said. "He was a lot different than what they expected."

"You’re gonna take different stuff from vets than you did from young guys, and I understood that. There was favoritism, but that’s the NBA. That’s how it is everywhere."

Reading into the first line of that quote, I infer the veterans spent a considerable amount of time talking about Larry Brown. Daye was a sophomore in high school and living in California when Brown last coached the Pistons. The most likely way he knows about Brown’s style is from the vets on this year’s team.

The second line of the quote explains, in part, Kuester’s downfall. He tried to set a hardline with the players, but he still gift-wrapped Tracy McGrady (before he had built strength in his legs) and Richard Hamilton (who spent more energy whining to the refs than working to score) early-season minutes while keeping hard workers Austin Daye and Will Bynum on the bench. Players see through that type of hypocrisy.


  • Jun 7, 20114:02 pm
    by brgulker


    I disagree strongly, Dan. Kuester didn’t gift-wrap anything. McGrady hardly played early in the season; he earned his minutes. And no head coach in the NBA is going to ignore Rip’s history and cut his minutes because there’s an unproven young player who works hard — no coach in the entire NBA.
    If you’ve ever played basketball at any level, you’ve experienced favoritism, because coaches are human beings, and human beings play favorites. That’s just reality, and Daye’s right to observe it.
    There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s certainly not hypocritical.
    Further, I think you’re conveniently forgetting facts to support the hypocrite thesis. Last season, Kuester benched Gordon and Villanueva. Gordon in favor of Stuckey and Rip, and Villanueva in favor of Jerebko (a 2nd round pick) and Ben Wallace (a veteran everyone thought was being signed to a courtesy contract).
    If there’s anything Kuester did well, it was play players who deserved to play, regardless of age, experience, or contract. Perhaps not with 100% consistency, no, (and definitely not in rotations that made sense) but certainly often enough to prove he played players who deserved it.

    • Jun 7, 20116:05 pm
      by tarsier


      Short of the last five games of the season, when did Stuckey prove he deserved more minutes than Bynum? In the last two thirds of the season, when did Villanueva prove he deserved minutes at all? How did Summers not deserve any minutes behind all the terrible play of those ahead of him? And the lot of years of high level play excuse for Hamilton works…for a while. When he has been below average for over a year, it really wears thin.

      • Jun 8, 20112:50 pm
        by brgulker


        Summers is terrible. He will not be in the NBA next season. That he didn’t earn minutes because he sucks isn’t an argument.
        Who else is Kuester going to play other than Charlie V? Max? He was a disaster this season when he did get minutes. Ben Wallace was hurt and tending to personal matters. Wilcox played minutes toward the end of the season when he earned. The Charlie V argument falls flat.
        I’m one of the biggest anti-Stuckey Pistons fan out there, as evidenced by the articles Dan linked to that I wrote for the Roundtable. But he is a better player than Will Bynum. Their basic stat lines are very similar, but Stuckey is better in two significant ways: defense and getting to the free throw line.
        I think both are backups long-term, but Stuck has the edge.

        • Jun 8, 20115:10 pm
          by tarsier


          It is tough to say Summers is terrible. He has actually been pretty decent whenever he has gotten extended minutes, although that has usually been against lesser competition. And he has been terrible when given about 3 or 4 minutes to play. But that is not very meaningful information, and it is most of what we have to judge him on.
          As for who would play instead of Charlie, how about Wilcox? Wilcox got minutes at the end of the year, but that was because Wallace stopped playing so much. He should have been eating at Charlie’s minutes much sooner if Kuester was giving minutes to whoever earned them. I agree with leaving Charlie out there if it is to increase his trade value. But there was never any indication that anyone had a clear plan.
          I actually do like Stuckey, but because there is still a chance he will put it all together, not because of what he has done. So again, if minutes were being earned, Stuckey would still get more minutes than Bynum, but not nearly so many more.

    • Jun 8, 20112:34 am
      by Dan Feldman


      McGrady had a spot reserved in the rotation before he had shown he could play. Eventually, McGrady played very effectively, but at the beginning of the year, he hadn’t built up enough strength in his legs to deserve any regular game action.

      Ben Gordon, the alternative to Hamilton, isn’t an unproven young player. I wasn’t saying Kuester should have given Hamilton’s minutes to Bynum or Daye. I’m just saying Hamilton kept starting and playing big minutes long after it was clear he wasn’t playing effectively

      As far as including last year as well as this year, at least in perception, there are three players who have the reputation of complaining if things don’t go their way: McGrady, Hamilton and Prince. I covered McGrady and Hamilton. Prince never deserved to have his minutes cut.

      Plenty of coaches play favorites. That’s necessary in the star-driven NBA. But most coaches don’t place such an emphasis on an open competition for playing time, like Kuester did. He set out parameters that indicated players like Daye should have the same leash as players like Hamilton. Daye made a few minor mistakes and got yanked from the rotation. Hamilton played terribly and kept his starting job and cushy minutes. That’s hypocrisy.

      • Jun 8, 20112:45 pm
        by brgulker


        Hamilton played terribly and kept his starting job and cushy minutes.

        No he didn’t. He played 7 MPG more than Daye and only about 50 more minutes than Daye total. He played 1 MPG more than Gordon and over 600 minutes fewer in total. And he was totally and completely benched.

        And you’re completely ignoring my argument about Villanueva, Ben Wallace, and Jonas Jerebko.

        • Jun 8, 20118:00 pm
          by Dan Feldman


          You’re comparing the entire season. I’m only talking about the first couple months. Through mid-December, in games Hamilton played and didn’t get ejected from, Hamilton was averaging 29 minutes per game and Gordon was averaging 25. In those game, Hamilton played 20 or fewer 20 minutes just once. Gordon played 20 or fewer minutes five times. Hamilton started all but one game. Keep in mind, Hamilton’s field-goal percentage was barely over 40 at this point.
          Eventually, after months of giving Hamilton a chance to find his way that no other player got, Kuester benched Hamilton. As we know, that led to a poor reaction from Hamilton, which made it easier to keep him on the bench. But he initially had more leniency than anyone else on the team.
          What is your argument about Villanueva, Wallace and Jerebko? That Kuester adjusted their minutes appropriately? So what. Why were those guys entitled to play or not play?

  • Jun 7, 201111:55 pm
    by Maurice


    stuckey needs to start, and charlie proved that in milwaukee,. and hamilton wasnt good this year because he played out of his game. hes at his best on a catch and shoot role, he was asked to run offense and thats not him.

    • Jun 8, 20118:43 am
      by tarsier


      Hamilton was never asked to run the offense. He did’t have a PG he fit as well with as Billups. But its time for him to get over that already. His role is pretty darn close to the same as it was in his heyday.

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