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Archive → October, 2011

Chevette to Corvette No. 32: The 1992-93 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 40-42
  • Pythagorean record: 38-44
  • Offensive Rating: 107.4 (18th of 27)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.9 (15th of 27)
  • Arena: Palace of Auburn Hills
  • Head coaches: Ron Rothstein

Leaders

  • Points per game: Joe Dumars (23.5)
  • Rebounds per game: Dennis Rodman (18.3)
  • Assists per game: Isiah Thomas (8.5)
  • Steals per game: Alvin Robertson (2.2)
  • Blocks per game: Dennis Rodman (.7)

Top player

Joe Dumars

Ben Gulker will probably kill me for not picking Dennis Rodman and his league-leading 18.3 boards per game here, but I have to go with Joe D. At 29-years-old, with teammates Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer aging, Dumars asserted himself as Detroit’s go-to player, averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game. He shot 47 percent overall and 37 percent from three while also dishing out four assists per game. The team finished below .500 and missed the playoffs because they had no rim protector after trading John Salley in the offseason, Rodman, the team’s best defender, missed 19 games, and Laimbeer, who turned 35 during the season, was not the same defensive presence he used to be.

Key transaction

Traded John Salley to Miami for Isaiah Morris and a first round pick

The Salley trade was the first of several trades and retirements that dismantled the Bad Boys. Salley went to Miami, Rodman would be traded the following offseason and Thomas and Laimbeer would both retire in 1993-94. But, oddly enough, Salley was the only player from that group who brought back any value in return. The Pistons used that pick from Miami to draft Lindsey Hunter.

(runner-up) Traded Orlando Woolridge to Milwaukee for Alvin Robertson

I had to pick one more in this section just to point out the dysfunction of the Pistons of this era. Rodman was well into his meltdown after the team parted ways with Chuck Daly, and the Rodman-Pistons relationship ended poorly in the offseason. But Robertson was no picnic either. He finished the 92-93 season and then was traded in November ’93:

Alvin Robertson of the Detroit Pistons had a fight with BILLY McKINNEY, the team’s player personnel director, shortly after McKinney told him on Thursday that he was being suspended for three games for skipping practices and missing back rehabilitation sessions, two newspapers reported yesterday.

Robertson pinned McKinney on a courtside table during a practice session at Auburn Hills, Mich., and coaches and players had to pull him off, The Detroit Free Press and The Oakland Press of Pontiac, Mich., reported.

Robertson has now been suspended indefinitely.

“It was a split second when I lost my cool,” Robertson said of the fight. “And that split second is going to get me more media attention than I have had for the last two years, so I certainly regret the incident.”

Trend watch

Can’t make it 10 straight

The Pistons missed the playoffs by one game, ending their streak of nine straight years in the postseason.

Why this season ranks No. 32

It’s amazing how much this season has in common with the 2008-09 Pistons. The team was at the end of a long stretch of contending, but rather than tear down, they tried to patch things up on the fly by hiring an underwhelming coach because he was familiar with the team (assistant Ron Rothstein in 92-93, assistant Michael Curry in 08-09). While the 08-09 Pistons tried to mix young players as a way to invigorate the core, the 92-93 version tried the same “shake things up” tactic in the rotation with veterans like Terry Mills, Robertson, Olden Polynice and Gerald Glass. In both cases, it didn’t have the desired affect. Injuries and malaise plagued both teams, as did age and an abundance of minutes played, which caught up with key players on both squads. Both finished below .500 and while the 08-09 Pistons managed to sneak into the playoffs in a weaker East, they were quick first round fodder, showing they didn’t really belong in the postseason.

Prior to the season, the Pistons in 1992-93 believed that they just needed a quick re-tooling, a fresh but familiar voice at coach and a few roster tweaks to give their Thomas-Dumars-Rodman-Laimbeer core one last run at contention. The season proved that that group didn’t have that last run in them.

Previously

Tayshaun Prince, New Jersey Nets target?

As I mentioned earlier, plenty of TrueHoop Network sites have debuted 3-on-3s, including Nets are Scorching, which identified free-agent forwards the Nets should target:

Mark Ginocchio: Tayshaun Prince has a championship pedigree and can still play defense. He’s also still good enough on the offensive end and would probably see an uptick in his production from having Deron Williams on the same roster. He’s the kind of versatile, all-purpose supporting cast player that I would really like to see this front office focus on in terms of forging an identity around D-Will.

Ginocchio listed Prince as his third choice, and neither of the other two respondents listed Prince at all. I just don’t see a big market for the 31-year-old,

Charlie Villanueva leading amnesty-clause victim for the Detroit Pistons

Chad Ford of ESPN:

Most likely amnesty cut: Charlie Villanueva

How likely to use amnesty this season? Jump ball

Other amnesty candidates: Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon

Analysis: It’s widely assumed that the Pistons will waive Rip after all of last season’s chaos. He’s scheduled to earn $12.5 million this season and he has a partially guaranteed contract worth $9 million in 2012-13. Throw in the fact that the 33-year-old was seriously unhappy throughout the short-lived John Kuester era, plus Detroit’s longstanding struggles to find a trade taker for him, and amnesty sounds like a natural solution.

Yet sources say the Pistons still believe Hamilton has some trade appeal to contending teams, particularly as he moves closer to the end of his contract. Debatable as rival teams might find that stance, word is Villanueva looms as the more probable amnesty option.

Villanueva has $24 million left on his contract and averaged a mere 3.9 rebounds per game last season while earning $7.5 million. Gordon, meanwhile, is still owed $37 million and coming off a similarly punchless season for a team overflowing with guards. Which one will it be? Someone will go, but cutting ties with either would be an expensive admission for Joe Dumars that the Pistons’ substantial 2009 summer funds were misspent. The latest word is that the Pistons, with new owner Tom Gores still just settling in, have yet to make a firm decision on exactly whom to release.

If the Pistons can wait two years to use the amnesty clause, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported could be possible, should they do it? Right now, they don’t have a clear target. Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are all capable of playing well. By waiting until next offseason, Detroit could better assess those players – at the risk of paying them another year.

3-on-3: Tayshaun Prince

This is the debut of a new feature on PistonPowered (and many other TrueHoop Network sites) called 3-on-3. Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. First up, Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys.

1. Will Tayshaun Prince have another year as good as his last?

Dan Feldman: No. For the first time in a couple seasons, Prince really excelled on both ends of the floor. There could be a million reasons why, but I’ll guess the simple one: contract year. With a new deal and and his 32nd birthday approaching, odds are he’ll backslide next year.

Patrick Hayes: No. I don’t think he’s on a rapid decline, but he was a go-to player last season out of necessity more than anything else. He’s at his best in a complementary role, and as a result, his minutes and role will likely decrease wherever he ends up. He’ll be more efficient, but his overall averages won’t approach last season’s.

Matt Watson: I think so, with one caveat: he posted a career-high 21.0 usage rate, which I don’t think he’ll match. Overall he’s been consistent the last several years. He does a bit of everything, and players like that generally don’t fall off the table overnight, even with a role change.

2. How much will Tayshaun Prince earn on his next contract?

Dan Feldman: Four years, $30 million. Prince is coming off a solid season, and Joe Dumars has never been too tight with the purse strings when it comes to re-signing his own free agents. Prince can get one more big(ish) payday, and I doubt he’ll pass that up to play for a contender for peanuts.

Patrick Hayes: Four years, $18 million. He won’t get the overly generous contract Richard Jefferson got from San Antonio (four years, $38.8 million), and he won’t settle for the discounted deal Matt Barnes accepted from the Lakers (2 years/$3.6 million), but I’d put him somewhere between those two extremes.

Matt Watson: Assuming no drastic changes to the CBA, the Mid-Level Exception seems about right. You could argue that he’s worth more, but he’s already 32 years old with a lot of miles. Plus, I think the market for his services is smaller than most folks realize: it really comes down to a handful of contenders looking for an extra piece. 

3. Will Tayshaun Prince re-sign with the Pistons?

Dan Feldman: Yes. Prince might want to leave, and the Pistons might want to move on, but I doubt either does. With the Mid-Level Exception likely limited to about $20 million for four years, where else would Prince get a big offer? And with limited cap room to sign another team’s free agent, how would the Pistons replace their top player?

Patrick Hayes: No. Prince, understandably, has not seemed happy spending the last productive years of his career on a non-contender. The Pistons should give minutes to young players, particularly Austin Daye, to see whether they have anything there. Prince was important to this franchise’s second golden age, but it’d be best for both parties to go their separate ways.

Matt Watson: Given Dumars’ recent track record, I wouldn’t be surprised – I just hope I’m wrong. Detroit won’t contend for awhile, and when they do, Prince will be toast. Given the waves that he’s made, it’s risky bringing him along for the ride. Let’s see Austin Daye or even Kyle Singler sink or swim. Or hell, just put Jonas Jerebko there.

What do you think? Share your answers in the comments.

DaJuan Summers cut by Italian team

DaJuan Summers was cut by Montepaschi Siena, according to Sportando (hat tip: I am a GM):

DaJuan Summers is no longer a player of Montepaschi Siena. Former Detroit Pistons forward did not perform as expected and the Italian reigning champs decided to part ways with him. Summers was averaging 4ppg in 3 Serie A games and 4 points in the only game he has played in Euroleague.

Maybe the Pistons shouldn’t feel bad about rarely playing Summers.

Chevette to Corvette No. 33: The 1977-78 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 38-44
  • Pythagorean record: 38-44
  • Offensive Rating: 100.3 (12th of 22)
  • Defensive Rating: 101.5 (14th of 22)
  • Arena: Cobo Arena
  • Head coaches: Herb Brown (9-15), Bob Kauffman (29-29)

Leaders

  • Points per game: Bob Lanier (24.5)
  • Rebounds per game: Bob Lanier (11.3)
  • Assists per game: Eric Money (4.7)
  • Steals per game: Chris Ford (2.0)
  • Blocks per game: Bob Lanier (1.5)

Top player

Bob Lanier

Lanier had a typically fine season and received an MVP vote.

But he missed the Pistons’ final 12 games after having knee surgery, according to Steve Addy’s “The Detroit Pistons: More Than Four Decades of Motor City Memories.” Detroit went 5-7 in the stretch and missed the playoffs.

Key transaction

Traded Kevin Porter and Howard Porter to the New Jersey Nets for Al Skinner and two second-round picks

Just two years prior, Kevin Porter was more valuable than Dave Bing. But Porter clashed with Herb Brown in Detroit, detracting from his solid play. Greg Eno of Out of Bounds:

One day in practice, according to Green in his book “The Detroit Pistons: Capturing a Remarkable Era,” Brown was overseeing a ball movement drill and noticed one of the Pistons being checked in a mismatch by point guard Kevin Porter.

Porter was an angry, simmering player who scowled a lot and distrusted coaches. He and Brown were very similar people, which was part of their problem.

Brown saw the mismatch and implored the bigger player to shoot.

“You got a midget on you! Shoot the ball! You got a midget on you!”

Kevin Porter didn’t like being called a midget by the disco-dressing Herbie Brown.

That was part of the tenuous, stormy relationship between coach and point guard, which at times nearly turned physical in its confrontations.

Brown would sit Porter during games and not call on him for chunks of minutes at a time. Porter would glare and scowl. Herbie would finally call for Porter and it was even money whether Kevin would actually acquiesce and enter the game.

This went on for most of the 1976-77 season

By the 1977-78 season, their problems were unavoidable. Curry Kirkpatrick and John Papanek of Sports Illustrated in a season preview published Oct. 31, 1977:

During the summer Brown tried unsuccessfully to dump his main nemesis, Kevin Porter. The two have not exactly made peace, but they are willing—so they say—to lay down their swords for the common good. "This year when I’m yanked I’ll accept it," says Porter. Says Brown, "I may have made some mistakes." Says Lanier, "You can’t change human nature. To be fair they should trade one of them."

The Pistons were completely fair. They traded Porter seven days later and fired Brown not long after.

Trend watch

Playoff streak snapped after four straight seasons

Between 1963-64 and and 1972-73 seasons, the Pistons made the playoffs only once. But they had reached the postseason all four years prior to 1977-78. It wouldn’t last.

Why this season ranks No. 33

The 1976-77 season was one for the ages. The Pistons hated their coach, but that didn’t stop them from playing well. It was a juicy mix of storylines and success.

In 1977-78, all that tension began to pull the Pistons in the wrong direction. They still hated their coach, but they didn’t play nearly as well.

The season began with Marvin Barnes leaving prison. John Papanek of Sports Illustrated:

At 15 minutes past midnight last Friday, after 152 days on the inside, Marvin Barnes, 25, walked out of the Adult Correctional Institute at Cranston, R.I., climbed into his lawyer’s Rolls-Royce and was driven off to resume his job as a $300,000-a-year forward for the Detroit Pistons.

After spending a few hours with his mother, sister and friends in West Providence, the 6’9", 225-pound Barnes flew to Buffalo, where he rejoined the Pistons for a preseason game against the Braves.

Then, on Oct. 9, 1976, a metal detector at Detroit Metropolitan Airport picked up something suspicious in his luggage. It turned out to be an unloaded pistol—a clear violation of probation. On May 16 News began serving a one-year sentence that was shortened to five months, and last Friday he was free again, on parole.

At a press conference in Buffalo, flanked by Pistons General Manager Bob Kauffman and Coach Herb Brown,Barnes was ever so cautious, aware that he would be judged on whatever he said and did. So he said things like, "I paid my debt to society. I want to come out, be a basketball player again, do what’s right." Kauffman prompted him to tell of the time he had spent studying while in prison. "Oh, yeah," said Barnes. "I couldn’t cut no classes."

Strangely, the pot of drama in Detroit never boiled over. The Pistons traded the Porters and Barnes and fired Brown during the season, and slowly simmered into irrelevance.

Previously

Austin Daye grew up watching Paul Pierce

SLAM has a brief interview with Austin Daye about growing up in Southern California. Daye talks about a NBA player he was influenced by growing up:

SLAM: When you were growing up, who was the one guy you had to watch on television?

AD: Paul Pierce. I just really liked his game. He wasn’t the fastest, wasn’t the most athletic, but he was always able to get to where he wanted to get to and be able to score, and he was scoring at will when he was in the Playoffs back then.

Daye’s game isn’t that similar to Pierce’s on the surface because Pierce is so ridiculously strong for a wing player, but like Pierce, Daye isn’t an elite ball-handler or especially quick off the dribble and in limited situations, Daye has shown some craftiness using angles and body positioning to create a little bit of daylight to get his shots off.

In the interview, Daye also talks about the first time he beat his dad, former NBA player Darren Daye, one-on-one.

 

Detroit Pistons are the sixth best drafting team of the past decade

I figured I might as well start a fire in the comments heading into the weekend with this one. In a must-read article on competitive balance and payroll by ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh, he includes an analysis of the best drafting teams of the last decade. The Pistons are sixth in the NBA over that period when it comes to finding value in the draft. I would block quote a portion here, but seriously, just go read the whole thing.

If you scroll down to the chart, you can see how each team compares. Not only have the Pistons been sixth best at finding value, but they have the second highest winning percentage of the decade among top 10 teams (even with their lousy performances over the last three seasons) and they’ve spent the second lowest amount of money in the top 10.

Noam Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm had a reaction that I think a lot of people shared: Uh … Detroit? Really?

But amongst the several nuggets from the piece, what caught my attention was the 6th best drafting team on the chart. The Detroit Pistons are best remembered for flopping on Darko Milicic in the stacked 2003 lottery, but that didn’t prevent them from ranking above 24 other franchises in drafting acumen this past decade.

Schiller asked Haberstroh on Twitter how that was possible. Here was Haberstroh’s response:

@noamschiller DET credits: Okur +5.1, Monroe +3.9, Prince +3.7, Amir +2.8, Stuckey +2.7, JJ +1.2, Maxiell +.7. Debits: Darko -5.6, RW -3.1

And Schiller again:

Striking gold with an all-star in the second round (Okur) is nearly as valuable as flopping on the second overall pick (Darko) is hurtful. A mid-lottery hopefully future star (Monroe) is as big a coup as a solid 10 year starter in the lower first round (Prince), and both of them more than make up for the pain of a blown mid-lottery pick (White).  And any value you can get from later in the draft – even if they are flawed players such as Johnson, Stuckey and Jerebko – acts as gravy in a process that is ultimately a crapshoot.

I bring this up not to start another round of let’s defend Joe Dumars. It’s important to note that Detroit’s winning percentage over that period is a result of mainly of veteran players who were acquired in trades or free agency, not through the draft. But I think one of the biggest areas where general fans misunderstand the NBA (and maybe pro sports in general) is the notion of how rare it is to find players late in drafts who can even hang around in a rotation, let alone turn into productive NBA players. A significant number of players taken after the lottery just don’t pan out. And as we’ve seen, a lottery picks aren’t a sure thing either.

Joe Dumars has a skill at identifying talent that others have missed, even if their best work in some cases (Afflalo, Johnson, Delfino) has happened elsewhere. Dumars finds value late in drafts at an extremely high level. It doesn’t absolve him of other personnel mistakes (like giving up too soon on some of those finds or spending way too much money on marginal free agents). But it is a definite skill that Dumars has shown a knack for. Now if he and the organization could get that ‘development’ aspect right when they do find that hidden talent, the Pistons would really be onto something.

Also, while we’re on the subject of Dumars, I thought tarsier had a great comment the other day worth highlighting:

Also, something I always find pertinent to discussions of how good a GM is. Most GMs average probably at most two very significant moves per year with a couple more of moderate significance and some more meaningless ones (most second round picks, signing min contract players, involvement in a trade that doesn’t add or remove any players from your top 7, etc). So evaluating a typical GM over his career gives you little more to work with than evaluating a player based on one game. You can absolutely say whether he played well or not, but not whether or not he is a good player (i.e. how well he would play in the future).

Anyway, consider the fire started. Have a good weekend. And Laser, seriously, don’t spend your entire weekend writing thousands of words rebutting this data. It’s supposed to be nice out. Go on a hayride or something.

Time is the Pistons’ best friend right now

Anyone who has gone to a Tigers game at old Tiger Stadium has probably been by Detroit Athletic Co., a sports and memorabilia store with Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings and Lions merchandise, before. Well, I recently discovered that they have an interesting blog with some unique content worth checking out. They were kind enough to let me do a guest post for them this week talking Pistons. I don’t cover a lot of new ground because, frankly, there hasn’t been new ground to cover all summer thanks to the lockout, but try to give an overview of where I think the team is at right now. You can read the post here. But you should really look at their other content. They have some really cool historical features on some old Tigers moments that are worth your time if you’re into Detroit sports history.

‘Piston Devotion’ now available as an e-book

Popping in once more for a little more self-promotion. I announced that the paperback version of my book, Piston Devotion, was available through Amazon/Create Space a couple days ago and now the e-version is available as well. The benefits of the e-edition? It’s cheaper and you don’t kill trees. Beyond that, I don’t really know anything about e-books or e-readers, so I’m pretty useless at answering more specific questions. Very much appreciate those who have already ordered a copy and I look forward to hearing your feedback/receiving your hate mail.