↓ Login/Logout ↓
Schedule/Results
↓ Roster ↓
Salaries
↓ Archives ↓
↓ About ↓

Archive → September, 2011

Chevette to Corvette No. 51: The 1966-67 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 30-51
  • Pythagorean record: 27-54
  • Points Per Game: 111.3 (10th of 10)
  • Opponent points per game: 116.8 (4th of 10)
  • Arena: Cobo Arena
  • Head coaches: D. DeBusschere (28-45), D. Butcher (2-6)

Leaders

  • Points per game: Dave Bing (20.0)
  • Rebounds per game: Dave DeBusschere (11.8)
  • Assists per game: Dave Bing (4.1)

Top player

Dave DeBusschere

DeBusschere posted (to that point in his career) career highs in scoring (18.2 points per game) and rebounding (11.8 rebounds per game) in the 1966-67 season. Most impressively, though, is he put those numbers up while also coaching the team for most of the season. Keith Langlois recently wrote about DeBusschere’s development as a player in Detroit:

Bing and DeBusschere should have been the foundation for a great five- or six-year run. With Bing’s scoring flair reducing the onus on DeBusschere to produce points, he could blossom as the phenomenal all-around player he would come to be known as with the Knicks.

DeBusschere, at 6-foot-6, was a tremendous rebounder and defender, but he could shoot the ball past 20 feet – if there’d been a 3-point line back then, he would have made it a weapon – and he was as clutch as they come. There’s a reason DeBusschere was named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all-time.

Key transaction

Drafted Dave Bing

The Pistons needed an impact player in the first round of the 1966 NBA Draft. In 1965, the Pistons took Bill Buntin, who died tragically in a pickup game just three years later after having a heart attack. In 1964, the team took Joe Caldwell, who underachieved. Fortunately, Bing made an immediate impact, leading the team in scoring and assists as a rookie. If the Pistons had their choice, however, they would’ve taken someone else. From Time Magazine:

At the pro basketball draft two years ago, both the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knickerbockers had their hearts set on one man: Cazzie Russell, the 6-ft. 5½-in. All America from Michigan. What’s more, both teams had equal rights to him by virtue of their last-place tie in the National Basketball Association. So they flipped a $20 gold piece. The Knicks won Russell, and the Pistons settled for Syracuse’s Dave Bing, 22, a college-ball hawk but a pretty small man at 6 ft. 3 in. to stand up against the giants in the N.B.A.

As of last week, Cazzie Russell was still trying to live up to his promise with the Knicks. And the Pistons’ Dave Bing? Last year, in his first season, he averaged 20 points per game for a spiritless, last-place club and ran away with Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

Russell, as most know, had a solid career as a contributor with the Knicks, but never lived up to the lofty expectations resulting from his college career at Michigan. Bing would go on to be one of the top players in franchise history.

Trend watch

The coaching carousel starts again

Joe Dumars takes heat for changing coaches frequently, but constant change in the head coaching spot is kind of a Pistons tradition. DeBusschere and Donnie Butcher both coached the team in 1966-67. They were two of the four coaches the Pistons had over the course of four seasons.

Why this season ranks No. 51

The Pistons should’ve been entering a golden era with two young, future Hall of Famers on the roster in Bing and DeBusschere. Instead, thanks to horrid management decisions, like trading DeBusschere, the team would make the playoffs only once over the next seven seasons, wasting Bing’s prime years.

Previously

Ben Wallace deserves a less-flattering image, jail time

Think about Ben Wallace the basketball player: quiet, hard-working, tough, smart, disciplined.

Think about Ben Wallace the person: …

As is the case with most professional athletes, we don’t really know Ben Wallace. We think we do, and we make our assessment of his whole based on a snippet of his life.

I know that’s foolish, and you probably do, too. That doesn’t make any easier to stop ourselves from superimposing the side of Wallace we see onto the Wallace we don’t.

Of course, the singular image Wallace I created in my mind was torn apart yesterday when he was arrested for drunken driving and illegally possessing a firearm.

If the allegations are true, Wallace should – and will – go to jail.

He drew the same judge who sentenced Jalen Rose to 20 days in jail for first-offense drunken driving, according to Mike Martindale and Santiago Esparza of The Detroit News. District Judge Kimberly Small – rightly – treats drunken driving as a serious offense and sentences virtually every, if not every, offender to jail time.

Drunk-driving laws have flaws. Breathalyzers can be unreliable, and a .08 blood alcohol count is an arbitrary.

But if the allegations are true, and Wallace couldn’t stay in his lane, none of that matters. He was unfit to drive.

The gun charges are equally troubling. Martindale and Esparza:

Smyly said he noticed several rounds of large caliber ammunition in the closed middle console of the front seat and saw a backpack in the rear seat. He took Wallace into custody and advised another officer to look for a gun, subsequently found in the backpack.

In an interview room, Wallace told police the handgun belonged to his wife, was registered only to her, and he had placed it in the backpack for protection before driving from Virginia back to Michigan the day before.

He said he had “completely forgot the gun was in his backpack and when he got back to Michigan went out with his buddy and had some drinks …,” according to a police report written by Lt. Mark Paquin, who said Wallace said “if he had known tonight was going to end up this way, he would have done things differently.”

Forgetting about a backpack in a car is forgivable, but gun owners have a responsibility to ensure their weapons aren’t used inappropriately. Wallace, if the allegations are true, didn’t take proper care of the gun.

Nobody was hurt because of either of those two alleged mistakes, but the risk posed by both was substantially high. Wallace should, and does, know better. He told a police officer during the incident that he was a criminal justice major in college, according to Martindale and Esparza. I didn’t know that.

Like I said, we don’t know much about Wallace. But I know this: he is a role model. He has no choice in the matter. Thousands in Michigan and elsewhere look up to him.

His plans of becoming a lawyer after his basketball career were inspirational. His arrest will affect them, but I hope it won’t deter them. A night of mistakes doesn’t have to define him. A message that educational pursuits can be just as rewarding as playing sports could be his lasting legacy, but first, we must all deal with the consequences of his arrest, learn from it and admit our mistakes.

I thought Wallace was better than this. That’s my fault.

He’s not. That’s his fault.

Chevette to Corvette No. 52: The 1978-79 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 30-52
  • Pythagorean record: 34-48
  • Offensive Rating: 102.1 (17th of 22)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.6 (15th of 22)
  • Arena: Pontiac Silverdome
  • Head coach: Dick Vitale

Leaders

  • Points per game: Bob Lanier (23.6)
  • Rebounds per game: Bob Lanier (9.3)
  • Assists per game: Kevin Porter (13.4)
  • Steals per game: M.L. Carr (2.5)
  • Blocks per game: Terry Tyler (2.5)

Top player

Bob Lanier

Lanier’s final full season in Detroit certainly wasn’t his best as the big man began to show signs of decline at 30. But he still would’ve been the best player on many teams, especially a subpar bunch like the Pistons.

Kevin Porter also deserves record for dishing 13.4 assist per game, setting an NBA record at the time. The mark still ranks seventh all time, surrounded by several John Stockton and Magic Johnson season.

Key transaction

Drafted Terry Tyler and John Long in the second round

Although the pattern hadn’t emerged yet, Dick Vitale had a tendency to value players he coached, coached against or recruited while coaching the University of Detroit. Tyler and Long were two of the few players acquired for those reasons who excelled with the Pistons.

They played for Vitale at U of D, and he picked them both in the second round before his first season as the Pistons’ head coach. (Detroit didn’t have a first-round pick.) Again, I’m cheating by choosing two transactions, but the way the Pistons acquired Tyler and Long was as linked as how they acquired Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

Surely, Vitale wanted these two to help establish the culture he had created at U of D, but they had legitimate NBA ability, too. They’re two of the Pistons’ most likable players ever, and their names still show up all over the Pistons’ all-time leaderboard.

Trend watch

Lost first five games

After the Pistons lost their first three games, Vitale was hospitalized for “stress-related stomach problems,” according to Eli Zaret’s “Blue Collar Blueprint.” The Pistons lost their next two games without him, and before they finally won their first game of the season in Vitale’s return, he was ejected from the game. Not only that, a security guard had to forcibly remove him from the court.

Early in the season, the Pistons demonstrated they were a circus and never recovered.

Why this season ranks No. 53

The Pistons hired former University of Detroit coach Dick Vitale before the season. You’ve probably seen Vitale covering college basketball for ESPN, and imagine that boisterous, enthusiastic, ranting, raving, shouting, spirited character coaching a team. It worked as well as you’d expect.

Not coincidentally, the Pistons also moved into the spacious Pontiac Silverdome before the season. I’d guess Vitale’s perceived ability to attract fans played a huge role in his hire. If he was hired purely on basketball credentials… well, I can’t even imagine that.

Whatever their reasons, the Pistons were proud of their hire, of course. Zaret:

At the appointed hour, the Silverdome message board revealed the Detroit skyline and then pictures of drums and bugles with music playing. Then, oddly, the screen showed the words from an April 4th newspaper column by sportswriter Joe Falls which said: “If the Pistons name Vitale, the bugles will be blaring and the drums will be sound and the cannons will be roaring and nobody around here will be able to sleep and pretty soon a lot of people will be going out to the Silverdome to see what’s causing all the noise.” A small cannon spewed a big puff of smoke and, as Vitale appeared from behind a curtain, a huge banner read: “Detroit Pistons ReVITALEized.”

Even notoriously skeptical Keith Langlois bought a Re-VITALE-ized” bumper sticker.

Southeast Michigan had Vitale fever. It soon turned to utter sickness.

The Pistons used 23 players, a club record according to “Motor City Memories,” and never sustained success. Too many of the players were lousy, and they were all poorly coached.

The Pistons finished 15th in attendance, proving that hiring a coach to sell tickets is never a good idea. Winning sells. Hire the best coach, and attendance will take care of itself.

Despite his likability, Vitale was terrible at his job. He couldn’t run an NBA team, and the Pistons learned that the hard way in 1978-79. Twelve games later, he’d be out.

Previously

Would you rather have DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe?

Heading into the 2010 NBA Draft, DeMarcus Cousins was clearly the player Pistons fans coveted most. After ending up with Greg Monroe as a consolation prize, I’m sure that most feel the team did OK for itself.

Today in the daily 5-on-5 roundtable, five writers revisited the Cousins vs. Monroe debate:

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Cousins gets the nod here for playing a much greater role with his Kings. He’s pretty inefficient, which is troubling, but he’s a dazzling talent. Still, Monroe looks very promising, and could realistically end up being the better, more reliable player over the course of his career. Just not right now.

Bret LaGree, Hoopinion: Greg Monroe. Monroe will never carry a heavy offensive role like Cousins should, and Cousins might become the more valuable player because of that. Monroe had the better rookie season, though.

Ian Levy, Two-Man Game: Cousins was ranked 50 spots higher, but I’d rather have Monroe. In their rookie seasons, Monroe was a better offensive rebounder and more efficient scorer, and he turned the ball over on fewer of his possessions. Cousins is undoubtedly more skilled, but right now Monroe is getting more out of his skills. To me, that’s the definition of value.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Cousins. Monroe has an elegant pass-first game and could eventually develop into a highly effective shooter. But Cousins’ power, size and skill make him potentially unstoppable. He’s an ’80s-style enforcer who trades on intimidation and has a rapidly improving 17-footer. Could be the second-best center in the league in two years.

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksetball: Cousins. Oddly enough, Cousins’ personality may be his biggest advantage over Monroe. Cousins will never have a problem demanding the ball and getting up lots of shots. Monroe’s passiveness makes it difficult to imagine him taking on a much larger role. It’s easier to envision Cousins making more shots than it is Monroe demanding more.

Three out of five prefer Cousins. Admittedly, I still think Cousins has more upside than Monroe, but that doesn’t mean I’d swap them. Cousins does still have some trouble controlling his emotions and struggled with turnovers last season. But it is impressive how, in just one year, Monroe has closed the perceived gap between he and Cousins so much. Remember, heading into that draft, Monroe wasn’t even the consensus No. 2 big man in the draft — Derrick Favors was much more highly regarded.

Ben Wallace reportedly arrested

WDIV in Detroit is reporting Ben Wallace was arrested over the weekend:

Wallace was arraigned in Bloomfield Township Sept. 24 on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and carrying a concealed weapon.A press release states that at about 3 a.m., a Bloomfield Township police officer stopped Wallace’s vehicle in the area of Telegraph and Long Lake roads for erratic driving. Police said the roadside investigation revealed that Wallace was intoxicated and subsequently taken into custody.

Nothing good ever happens to athletes in Bloomfield Township, apparently.

Chevette to Corvette No. 53: The 1964-65 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 31-49
  • Pythagorean record: 31-49
  • Points scored per game: 108.5 (7th of 9)
  • Points allowed per game: 111.9 (6th of 9)
  • Arena: Cobo Arena
  • Head coach: Charles Wolf (2-9), Dave DeBusschere (29-40)

Leaders

  • Points per game: Terry Dischinger (18.2)
  • Rebounds per game: Reggie Harding (11.6)
  • Assists per game: Ray Scott (3.6)

Top player

Dave DeBusschere

DeBusschere ranked  second on the team in each of the three major categories listed above, and management thought so much of his basketball knowledge, the Pistons named him player-coach after Charles Wolf’s slow start. But above all, DeBusschere was an excellent player. Tom C. Brody of Sports Illustrated:

As Baltimore Coach Buddy Jeannette says, "The big thing going for Coach Dave DeBusschere is that he’s got Player Dave DeBusschere going for him."

Key transaction

Traded Bob Ferry, Bailey Howell, Les Hunter, Wali Jones and Don Ohl to the Baltimore Bullets for Terry Dischinger, Don Kojis and Rod Thorn

The eight-player trade, largest in NBA history at the time, ridded the Pistons many of the players who had feuded with Charles Wolf the season before. Unfortunately, the deal also ridded the Pistons of a lot of talent.

Dischinger was the prize of the deal. Two years prior, he won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, and he averaged 20.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game the previous season.

But, according to Eli Zaret’s “Blue Collar Blueprint,” former Piston Gene Shue assessed the trade thusly: “Detroit has the worst management in the league.”

The trade had even more negative consequences than expected. Dischinger, who had an ROTC commission from Purdue, went into active military service after the season as the Vietnam War was escalating. He missed the following two years, and when he returned to the NBA, he wasn’t the same. Dischinger played six more seasons, including five with Detroit, but he was just a 10-and-5 player at that point.

Trend watch

Lost final eight games

The Pistons went a reasonable 29-32 to begin DeBusschere’s coaching career. Projected over a full season, that would have been Detroit’s best record in eight years.

But the Pistons struggled to end the season, a time of year when DeBusschere’s mind had previously drifted to baseball. He was a rising player in the Chicago White Sox organization. Tom C. Brody of Sports Illustrated:

When DeBusschere gets through with his basketball duties this spring he will already be several weeks late for spring training, and the White Sox are not particularly happy about it. When he signed, it was agreed that he could play both sports, but now the Sox realize they have an exceptional property in DeBusschere and they wish he would forget basketball.

DeBusschere never played Major League Baseball, that year or again. Did his split focus hurt his baseball career and NBA team that spring?

Why this season ranks No. 53

Naming DeBusschere head coach was an experiment. At the time, he was the second-youngest head coach ever in one of the major sports.

The move immediately paid one major dividend: It fired up the players. Brody:

If the attitude of the rest of the NBA was reserved because of DeBusschere’s age, there was unrestrained joy among the Piston players. The announcement was made at practice, and every player immediately took turns dunking the ball in the basket. "Even I dunked it," said stocky Don Butcher, "and I haven’t even touched the rim in five years."

DeBusschere also had some, um, interesting methods . Brody:

He introduced a note of levity into the heretofore grim procedure of traveling by pulling a harmonica from his pocket—after a losing game—and playing such favorites as Love Makes the World Go Round but, Baby, Money Greases the Wheels.

But the decision backfired. DeBusschere, via “Motor City Memories”:

“It was a big mistake,” he later conceded. “I wasn’t mature enough. It hurt me as a player thinking about what we could do on the floor.”

The Pistons took a chance by naming DeBusschere coach. In the end, that chance contributed to one of the NBA’s all-time greats spending his best years with the New York Knicks.

Previously

Which player should the Pistons waive if there is an amnesty clause?

Bill Simmons and Jonathan Abrams of Grantland look at each team’s contracts and decide which deal each team should lose if the new collective bargaining agreement includes an amnesty clause. Here were their thoughts on the Pistons:

Abrams: Richard Hamilton ($25 million over the next two years). A sad but necessary and overdue parting. Detroit could also look at trimming off the longer-termed contracts of Ben Gordon ($37.2 million through 2014) and Charlie Villanueva ($24.2 through 2014), but Hamilton makes the most sense for the Pistons: Their championship team dissipated long ago, and Hamilton has soured on the organization.

Simmons: I don’t feel sad. By the way, congratulations to Joe Dumars for tying Isiah Thomas’ “three legitimate amnesty clause candidates” record from 2005.

Abrams mentions the usual suspects — Hamilton, Gordon and Villanueva (though I’ve always thought that Jason Maxiell would be a darkhorse amnesty casualty).

This is another hotly contested debate around here simply because Hamilton’s contract isn’t the worst of those three albatrosses and, when he actually tries on defense, he’s a bit better overall player than Gordon. But, on the flip side, Hamilton is in his 30s while there is still some slim hope that Gordon or Villanueva could return from the abyss and perhaps rebuild their damaged trade value a bit. Plus, those two are signed longer than Hamilton, so the financial commitment to just pay them to not be on the team would be greater.

Abrams and Simmons are right — it makes the most sense to get rid of Hamilton because all signs point to him not really wanting to be here anymore, a factor that makes the hypothetical decision more than just strictly a basketball one. Plus, his long-time teammates Tayshaun Prince (free agent) and Ben Wallace (retirement speculation) are not locks to return, so would Hamilton’s demeanor improve as the last man standing from a bygone era?

But consider the can of worms opened — who are you getting rid of if there is an amnesty provision?

Will Greg Monroe improve more than anyone in ESPN’s #NBARank?

Many have argued at the inappropriately low amount of respect Greg Monroe seems to receive from media outside of Detroit. Well, cheer up folks. Rob Mahoney of excellent Mavs TrueHoop Network blog The Two Man Game participated in yesterday’s ESPN 5-on-5 roundtable and he stumped for Monroe. Twice even!

4. Which player not in the #NBArank top 100 deserves it most?

Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Greg Monroe. There’s always danger in projecting value based on late-season performance, but Monroe appeared to turn a legitimate corner with the introduction of the 2011 calendar year. He’s a smart, skilled player with a long career ahead of him, and he should already be listed among the league’s top 100 players based on his rookie-year exploits.

5. Which player not in the top 100 will eventually rise the highest?

Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Again, I turn to Greg Monroe. He has all the makings of a franchise center and should impact the game in numerous ways for the Pistons for the next decade-plus. Monroe — who currently sits at No. 132 — is a considerable talent, and though his ceiling isn’t quite as high as, say, DeMarcus Cousins, he’ll settle comfortably into a role as a career-long difference-maker playing the most valuable position in basketball.

Chevette to Corvette No. 54: The 1948-49 Fort Wayne Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 22-38
  • Pythagorean record: 21-39
  • Points scored per game: 74.3 (12th of 12)
  • Points allowed per game: 77.5 (3rd of 12)
  • Arena: North Side High School Gym
  • Head coach: Carl Bennett (0-6), Curly Armstrong (22-32)

Leaders

  • Points per game:  Bill Henry (9.9)
  • Assists per game: Bruce Hale (2.6)

Top player

Richie Niemiera

The Pistons used 19 players in 1948-49, and none of their four leaders in points per game, and only one in the top nine, played more than 37 games during the 60-game season.

Niemera, who who finished 13th on the team in points per game, gets the edge because he played 55 games, shot 34.7 percent from the field (above league average) and 80 percent from the line (well above league average).

The Pistons ran through so many players to get a head start on building the following year’s team, according to Rodger Nelson’s “The Zollner Piston Story.” But Niemiera, unlike many of his teammates, earned his spot early and kept it.


Key transaction

Left National Basketball League for Basketball Association of America

Chronologically, we began our rankings in 1948-49 – the first season of what would become the NBA – but the Pistons actually began competing professionally seven years earlier. In fact, the team formed even four years before that, according Myron Cope  of Sports Illustrated:

In 1937, responding to a request from the boys in the shop, Zollner decided to sponsor a company basketball team. Because he offered good jobs to new players, the best talent in industrial basketball came to his door at a fast dribble. "We rarely lost," Zollner says, "and since we were playing neighboring industries, we were making enemies instead of friends."

That being the case, Zollner turned the team pro, enrolling it in a Midwest circuit—the old National Basketball League—in 1941. The coming of World War II made the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, as they were then called, as successful an athletic organization as there was in the land. The country was full of topflight athletic competitors who, because they were working at draft-deferrable jobs, did not have to join the Army and go to war. Working in the Zollner plant by day, they could indulge their competitive instincts by night. Zollner’s basketball team dominated the NBL four straight years.

Prior to the 1948-49 season, the Pistons left the NBL for the BAA, which would later become the NBA. In the long run, it was a wise move. In 1948-49, well, the Pistons were focused on the long run.

Trend watch

Dropped “Zollner”

Pistons owner Zollner made no secret that he treated his team as an advertising mechanism for his pistons factory.* One way he did that was including his name in the team’s. Until this season, they had always been the Zollner Pistons.

*The auto part – although, it is fun to imagine a factory where they put together Bob Laniers and Vinnie Johnsons.

Tacky? Sure. An interesting remnant of another time? Absolutely. Lead to anything awesome looking? You tell me.

But with the move to the BAA, Zollner dropped his surname from the team’s nickname.

Why this season ranks No. 54

The Pistons won NBL titles in 1943-44 and 1944-45, also reached the final round of the playoffs in 1941-42 and 1942-43 and made the playoffs each of their seven NFL season. In all, Fort Wayne went 166-71 in the NFL.*

*Evidence of the unstructured nature of that league: the Pistons never played the same number of games in any two years. In order, they played 24, 23, 22, 30, 34, 44 and 60.

Unfortunately, competing in the BAA proved more difficult than expected. In hindsight, maybe the troubles should’ve been expected. The Pistons’ coach, Carl Bennett, was more of a game manager than a basketball man. He often let players handle scheme, opting to focus just on lineups. In fact, Bennett started working for the Zollner organization because of his softball acumen, according to Nelson:

Bennett was first base- man for Fairview Nurseries’ team in Fort Wayne’s fastest softball league, and in 1938 was named player of the year. Fred Zollner was an avid fan and enjoyed some of the game from the press box. Fred asked Carl to come to work at Zollner Machine Works in 1939.

Somehow, that eventually made him head coach of a professional basketball team. Once the team started 0-6 in 1948-49, though it became clear he was in over his head.

When the team pulled into Washington, there was a telephone call awaiting Carl Bennett from Fred Zollner. Zollner relieved Bennett of his coaching responsibilities, named him athletic direc- tor and chief scout and appointed Curly Armstrong as player-coach. It was a deeply disappointing start for the whole Zollner organization, which had worked so hard to make the jump to the BAA a significant part of Fort Wayne basketball history.

Zollner’s official statement was conciliatory, but Bennett realized that his duties were being diluted. "We have had a change such as this in mind for some time," Zollner explained, "And perhaps the decision has been hastened by the amazing display of strength of other teams in the BAA. We need someone to devote much of his time to the scouting of new talent. We need to keep pace with the other BAA clubs who have had scouts out for two years, resulting in strong ball clubs now bearing the fruits of these efforts. In our other league perhaps we were too complacent with our position. For that reason we thought a change should be made now rather than wait until later in the season or the end of the year. A change now allows us to start our scouting program immediately with the start of the college season. In the meantime we will make every effort to strengthen this year’s club."

The results weren’t spectacular, but the Pistons improved to 22-32 under Armstrong.

Previously

Tayshaun Prince at No. 105, Rodney Stuckey listed at No. 108, Ben Gordon at 111 in ESPN #NBARank

PistonPowered reader Jacob Tucker noted on Twitter that Rodney Stuckey‘s #NBARank is sure to spark debate. It’s often very polarizing when it comes to Stuckey — his ardent supporters believe that he’ll one day live up to those incredibly high standards Joe Dumars set for him when he was drafted while his most vocal critics would have you believe he’s the worst player in the NBA. Those extremes make it hard to properly evaluate Stuckey, but I think his ranking is just about right. There are probably a few players ranked higher who he is better than, a few below him who he’s worse than. But 108? I have no real issue with that.

I found this tweet by Justin Rodriguez in reaction to Stuckey’s ranking interesting though:

#NBArank Rodney Stuckey will flourish once he no longer has to play point guard.

It’s possible Stuckey is more comfortable as a shooting guard and, consequently, he’ll play more consistently. But what does it do to his value? He’s about to be a free agent. Stuckey as a free agent point guard has much more value on the market than Stuckey as a free agent shooting guard. As a shooting guard, how many players at that position have Stuckey’s size and skillset? Quite a few, right? But what about point guard? Very few PGs have his mix of youth, size, speed and strength. I’ve seen many Pistons fans advocating the position switch for Stuckey for some time, but if I were Stuckey or his agent and interested in maximizing his value, I’d certainly want to be viewed as a point guard.

I’ve written several times that I don’t think Tayshaun Prince was the Pistons’ best player last season, but I’m also not surprised that, at No. 105, he was the highest ranked Piston in the ESPN rankings. Prince is far better than Rip Hamilton or Ben Wallace at this point in their careers, and he’s surely the most recognizable of the Pistons old guard at this point, so it’s understandable that his ranking is a tad inflated based on name recognition.

As for Ben Gordon, I don’t have much analysis for his 111 ranking. Yes, anyone who has watched him the past two years knows his ranking is too high. But we’ve all also seen that the reputation Gordon built for himself in Chicago still looms large. He was an exciting player and explosive scorer who was confident and comfortable in his role. He also had an amazingly good playoff series. Consequently, he was paid more than he should’ve been paid. Hopefully next season, Gordon comes closer to living up to the reputation he built earlier in his career.

So with that, we’re all done seeing Pistons in the rankings without a single player cracking the top 100. Here is where everyone else ended up: Rip Hamilton (126), Greg Monroe (132),  Tracy McGrady (178), Will Bynum (188), Charlie Villanueva (191), Jonas Jerebko (206), Austin Daye (217), Ben Wallace (227), Jason Maxiell (239), Brandon Knight (267), Chris Wilcox (330), Kyle Singler (446), Terrico White (472) and Vernon Macklin (498).

If you’re on Twitter, feel free to follow along. The @NBAonESPN account is unveiling the names and picking the best comments that use the #NBARank hashtag for retweets and also featuring some on ESPN.com.