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Exciting rookie point guards Brandon Knight and Ricky Rubio go head to head


  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Date: Jan. 18, 2012
  • Time: 8 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit


  • Pistons: 3-10
  • T-Wolves: 5-8

Probable starters



  • Ricky Rubio
  • Luke Ridnour
  • Wes Johnson
  • Kevin Love
  • Darko Milicic

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +8.5

Over/under: 186.5

Score: T-Wolves win, 97.5-89.5

Three things to watch

1. Ricky Rubio’s defense

Rookie point guard Ricky Rubio gained so much hype before entering the league primarily because of his flashy offense. So far, though, his defense has been impressive as well. From TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott:

But without the ball, it’s a whole ‘nother “holy cow.” BasketballValue tells us that when Rubio is on the court, the Timberwolves are giving up 97 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off, that number is 109. It’s early yet, and those adjusted plus/minus numbers are particularly vulnerable to small sample sizes. But it looks right now like Rubio is already a difference-maker defending NBA guards, and that his impact on defense rivals all that stuff he’s doing at the other end.

I’m excited to see how Knight responds, playing against probably the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.

2. Darko’s 40-40 season

Yeah, I have to do the obligatory #LOLDarko entry. Dude is shooting 41 percent from the field and 46 percent from the free throw line this season. Can’t believe he’s still technically a starting center in the NBA.

3. Backcourt matchups

Rubio’s size could prove tough to matchup with, but the T-Wolves don’t play a particularly big back court, something that should help the smallish Pistons guards. Luke Ridnour gets about 30 minutes a game and J.J. Barea is playing about 20 minutes a night. I would assume Rodney Stuckey gets a heavy dose of guarding Rubio, so that should leave whoever is on the court with Stuckey an opportunity to create some favorable mismatches for a change hopefully.


  • Jan 18, 20127:47 pm
    by Laser


    Two things, both of which I’ve said before elsewhere:
    1) A new argument I just came up with for the Tayshaun Prince extension is that it was one of the few ways this team could keep from falling below the cap line. It’s not like that would have done us any good anyways, since (1) cap space is of little use to a team nobody would sign with, and (2) it’s going to be a little while before we could make significant cap room anyways, because of our unmovable bad contracts. Once you’re under the cap, it takes time and manipulation to get back over it. The last time we got under the cap, our reward was the ruination of our team by signing/overpaying BG and CV. No free agents wanted to come here back when we were respectable; you can bet your ass nobody would choose to come here to lose 50 games every year and have their career destroyed. There’s value in having a payroll above the cap, because your budget is bigger. We’re going to be rebuilding through the draft and trades anyways, so a bigger budget gives us more to work with. I can’t think of a good reason to squeak under the cap, since it would certainly take a few more years for the big money to come off the books anyways; we’d just have to build our payroll slowly through cap exceptions, and it’s important to remember that our exceptions are worth less than anybody else’s because this is literally the last team anybody would ever want to play for.
    2) I just listened to another worthless Joe Dumars interview. I won’t bother summarizing it. I swear to God the thought of his face and voice boils my fucking blood. Not a shred of humility or accountability. Why does anybody bother interviewing him just to lob softballs?? People who love him are too busy making excuses for him to realize how mad they should be, and people who hate him just get more and more bloodlust. I’ve never wanted to bash in anybody’s skull more in my entire life.

    • Jan 18, 20129:06 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      One reason to stay under the cap is so you could take back more in a trade than you send out, theoretically helping a team like the Lakers, for example, who gave away Lamar Odom rather than pay the luxury tax on his salary.

      • Jan 18, 201210:18 pm
        by Laser


        Yes, but that requires significant cap space. I suppose we might have been able to take Odom’s contract on if we let Stuckey and Tayshaun walk, but I don’t think anybody could have reasonably predicted that a player of his caliber would be available for nothing, and I’m not so sure this would have put us in a better position. Subsituting Odom for both Stuckey and Prince might arguably be an upgrade, but it wouldn’t make this team good enough to compete, and I don’t know if he would net more in trade than the two of them combined. We’ll see what happens with Tayshaun, and I maintain that the signing is horrendous if he ends up staying here for the duration of the contract. And as for Stuckey, this backcourt BY DESIGN is constructed to be utterly dependent on him. If the team ever had that much cap space, I think it would be better off taking a terrible contract off somebody’s hands along with a mid-late first round pick. But yeah, I’m not completely sold on the idea that taking Odom off the Lakers’ hands would better serve us. Then you’re back to the problem of having to build your salary up from the cap again so you can utilize the $12 million dollars between the cap and the tax line.

        • Jan 19, 201212:10 am
          by tarsier


          Odom would not be of great use to this Pistons team anyway. The only reason to take him would be to flip him later for some young/draft assets. The kind of assets that can often be acquired by just being a few million under the cap.

          I’m all for the Prince signing if and only if Dumars trades him (soon) for such assets. But I just don’t trust Dumars to do that. Not because of all his past boneheaded moves, but because he failed to do that with all sorts of players recently (Prince, McGrady, Wilcox, Stuckey).

          • Jan 19, 20123:58 pm
            by Laser

            I don’t trust Dumars to trade Tayshaun, because: Tayshaun represents a comfort zone for Joe; also, when all is said and done, whether Joe lasts long enough for the team to regain respectability (which at this point seems like an eventuality through the accumulation of a string of lottery picks), his track record is going to be checkered at best and an embarrassment at worst. Having Tayshaun spend his entire career here would be a hollow feather in his cap. These are not basketball decisions, and that is one big reason I think Joe needs a change of scenery.

      • Jan 18, 201210:36 pm
        by Max


        Dallas acquired Odom by first acquiring a trade exception.  They are way over the cap.

        • Jan 18, 201210:53 pm
          by Laser


          1) Max, this is unrelated to that immediate comment, but: I can’t stand your bogus flag-waving. How do you come here and defend this team and Joe and watch these games without being sick to your stomach. I bet you’d listen to that Dumars interview and get inspired about how Joe really knows what he’s doing and what it’s going to take to rebuild this thing, and that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the team’s complete and total ruination.
          2) Your immediate comment has nothing to do with anything. Cap space and trade exceptions are two different ways to acquire players without trading salary away.

        • Jan 18, 201210:56 pm
          by Patrick Hayes



          Yeah, that’s how Dallas did it, but that’s not the only way to do it. Teams that are under the cap can also take on more salary in trades. It’s how Charlotte, for example, took BJ Mullens and didn’t give OKC a salary in return.

    • Jan 18, 20129:07 pm
      by tarsier


      ” cap space is of little use to a team nobody would sign with ”

      A) Most free agents sign where the money is. If that is in an ideal location, great. If not, so be it. The exception is really only max contract players who will have enough offers that they can go where they want. But much more often you see things like David West signing with the Pacers (a team that finished well under .500 last year and who were projected as far from a slam dunk to make the playoffs this year).

      B) Cap space is also valuable for getting bonuses by facilitating trades with other teams/absorbing young but undesired contracts a la Bledsoe and Beasley respectively.

      • Jan 18, 201210:25 pm
        by Laser


        A) Uh, ok so you’re saying what we’d get with our cap space is we could rent David West for two seasons and have him walk when more desirable teams have cap room? I guess you could always trade him somewhere from that point, but you’d have to get a great return. But let’s not forget that before acquiring West, Indiana was ten times better than us… Also you’d still have the problem we had three years ago where you’ve got to build up your salary over years. Plus the problem that Stuckey is gone and he’s the only guard on the roster who won’t fit in a shoebox. I dunno, I’m just not sold on the idea that cap room would be of much use to us. Good players are going to find a better place to go.
        B) Yeah, like I said above to Hayes, I’d probably use the cap space in trades like Joe Should have three years ago. Either take back young unwanted players or bad contracts attached to picks.

        • Jan 18, 201210:37 pm
          by tarsier


          Obviously West wouldn’t be the guy to go for. You sign a younger guy to a longer contract. And Indiana was better than Detroit last season. But hardly ten times. Try 7 wins better.

          • Jan 18, 201211:01 pm
            by Laser

            1) Younger guy + longer contract = not signing here. Unless he’s FUCKING AWFUL.
            2) Indiana the moment before they signed West was ten times better than we are now. It’s a proven fact. We are god-fucking-awful and Indiana had a decent shot at being a factor in the East. I’m not talking about last season; Indiana has improved since last season, and we’ve gotten precipitously worse.
            I didn’t actually think it was within the realm of possibility that we’d actually get any worse this season. It’s bizarre. I thought getting rid of Tracy and Rip (though personally I would have amnestied Gordon instead of buying out Rip, but that’s just because I have the team’s best interests in mind and am not single-handedly responsible for bringing Gordon here in the first place, but I digress…) anyhow, I thought it would be addition by subtraction. But it turns out we subtracted two savvy veterans who had good size on the perimeter and weren’t prone to bone-headed plays. Somehow, we were better off juggling seven dudes on the perimeter instead of five, because the five we have suck worse than the hodgepodge that couldn’t be managed in terms of minutes, rotations, roles or personalities. It boggles the mind. We even replaced that worthless coach and added a healthy Jonas instead of a constantly-injured Wilcox! I’m at a loss…

          • Jan 18, 201211:27 pm
            by tarsier

            When West signed, most would believe that Indiana was significantly better than Detroit but hardly way better. Why? Because last season was what they had to base these things on!! And young players are even more likely to follow the money than old players. Old players are particularly likely to sacrifice money to be on a contender. Are you seriously arguing that this is not the case?

          • Jan 19, 20124:02 pm
            by Laser

            I don’t care about anyone’s tendency to do anything. There will ALWAYS be teams with better money than ours. ALWAYS. The only free agents we will EVER get in the state that we’re in are mediocre players we’ll have to overpay… like Gordon and Villanueva. 100% of the time there will be a more attractive destination for ANY free agent we’d like to lure.

          • Jan 19, 20124:31 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            “The only free agents we will EVER get in the state that we’re in are mediocre players we’ll have to overpay”

            Except Ben Wallace, Chucky Atkins, Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess

          • Jan 20, 201211:59 am
            by Laser

            Feldman, this is why you drive me fucking nuts sometimes. What you just said is as mindless and hollow and free of critical thinking skills as ANY joker who comes around here and spouts delusional garbage that’s not based in reality.

            Ben Wallace came here because he wanted to retire on the team where he made a name for himself, had his best years, and probably felt the need to make amends. He is a truly unique case. FUCKING OBVIOUSLY.

            Antonio McDyess came here THE YEAR AFTER WE WON A GODDAMN CHAMPIONSHIP. He was coming off knee surgery and had limited options anyways, but this team was the complete and total opposite environment of the team we have today. The Pistons won’t be that good again in any of our lifetimes. I’m not talking about the fucking city, Feldman. The city does us no favors, but I’m talking about the overall package, and the thought that you would sit at a keyboard and type Antonio McDyess and Ben Wallace as relevant examples of the kind of talent we could lure here with reasonable money is FUCKING LUDICROUS.

            Chucky Atkins was a vet in the twilight of his career, was going to make the veterans’ minimum regardless of where he played, and would likely have joined any team that had a . So great. Yes. BIG FUCKING DEAL that we can sign thirtysomethings who represent insurance policies. That differentiates us from NOBODY and gets us nowhere.

            As for Chauncey: First off, you’re looking at a different team. This was back when the Dumars name might have had some luster or credibility. He just came here and was retooling someone else’s roster. He hadn’t been completely exposed as a fraud and the world hadn’t watched his team fall from grace based entirely on misevaluation and mismanagement of talent. With no accountability whatsoever. Plus, the team was merely mediocre instead of being GOD-FUCKING-AWFUL. We’re mired in dysfunction and clawing our way to being the worst team in the league PERIOD. And on top of that, we’re almost devoid of flexibility for the near future. This is certainly one of the very least desirable destinations anybody could want to go for EVERY SINGLE REASON basketball players choose their destinations. On top of that, the overwhelming consensus was that Chauncey was a mediocre player that Joe was overpaying. That just happened to be one of a few moves that worked out very well in his favor.

            Dude, you’re fucking infuriating when you do this. I criticize very fairly and concisely for writing an absurdly premature and baffling obituary on Tayshaun, and you’re fucking nowhere. You pretend it didn’t happen. Then I referenced it in the postgame recap after Tayshaun accumulated 70 efficient points in three games, and you’re nowhere to be found to defend your journalism. Shit happens regularly. So you don’t stand by what you write when someone tries to have a conversation about it, that’s annoying enough. Then you pop your head in and add the randomest, most useless little blurbs that are completely disconnected from reality, then you’re gone until the next time you chime in to spout something off that adds nothing. SMH

          • Jan 20, 201212:19 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I’ll let Dan respond for himself, but I just wanted you to understand that this diatribe exposed you for the mindless ignorant hack that you are down here.

            You realize that Wallace and Atkins signed here originally when both were entering their primes and both had multiple options, right? You realize that that was what Dan was referencing, right? Further, they signed in Detroit despite the fact that the Pistons were losing their superstar player, Grant Hill, that same offseason.

            You also realize that Billups could’ve re-signed in Minnesota and been a starting PG on a team with Kevin Garnett, right? Maybe Detroit gave him a bit more money, but the T-wolves wanted Billups back. The Pistons were coming off a playoff appearance, but it’s not like they were a more attractive team at the time than Minnesota.

            Dan responded to a ludicrous point that you made saying no FAs will ever want to come to Detroit. In fact, some pretty good FAs have signed here. Maybe not the max guy superstar types, but if you have money and a role that players want, you will be able to sign good players no matter where you are and no matter how bad your team has been. Guys want to be paid and they want to play a lot, first and foremost, when they look for new teams in free agency.

            Seriously, you are so far out of line there is no line. I would ban you for a comment like that if it were my decision. You’re given a ridiculous amount of leeway to spew garbage down here. In my opinion, you don’t deserve it.

  • Jan 18, 20127:55 pm
    by Shane


    I just caught this: you have the rockets record for minnesota

  • Jan 18, 20128:09 pm
    by Max


    Laser’s above reason was sound but then his passion turned hysterical.

    • Jan 18, 201210:03 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      They have a tendency to do that. He buried the lead in that one though. Sucked you in thinking it was going to just be a practical argument, then you’re hooked in and he goes all American History X again.

      • Jan 18, 201210:27 pm
        by Laser


        Me and my lady watched American History X last night. No lie! Haha
        But yeah, I’m so full of vitriol that it’s getting to the point where I can’t watch the games anymore. The team’s been pretty unwatchable for a while now, but it’s really getting to me. And god these Joe Dumars interviews…

  • Jan 18, 201210:28 pm
    by Max


    I’ve never believed in trying to get under the cap.

  • Jan 18, 201210:48 pm
    by gmehl1977


    Get angry with me if you must but here are the bottom 4 positions in the overall standings as of today. I know its wrong to hope for losses but it seems a lot easier than to hope for wins lately. Ping pong balls anyone?
    New Orleans 3-11
    Charlotte 3-12
    Detroit 3-12
    Washington 2-12

    • Jan 18, 201211:25 pm
      by Laser


      Who would be angry? I get angry when the Pistons win. This season was over so fast it made my head spin! Just look at the fucking company we’re in!!
      New Orleans is in a complete salary-dump, “for sale” mode, structured entirely to have minimal future salary commitments. (Detroit doesn’t have the luxury of lumping itself in this category, as our team was capped out with unmovable contracts and our payroll never changed during the ownership shift. For sale or not, those contracts weren’t going anywhere, as evidenced by the fact that the only thing Joe could do to this roster in the offseason was pay Rip to leave.) And these guys are doing better than us, in more ways than one.
      Charlotte is a complete joke of a franchise with no fanbase, and they never had very much in the way of assets in the first place. They were born to be cellar-dwellers. They’re almost as much of an embarrassment as The Pistons will be for the foreseeable future, only they actually have a good defensive foundation.
      Washington is a dysfunctional mess, but they have a team that actually IS young, not one that just talks about how young they are to excuse their poor performance. They just dismantled a veteran team not entirely dissimilar from the Pistons’ in their heyday, but they started the process later and are much further ahead of us in terms of having the pieces necessary to be competitive– and they had to get out from the atrocious Gilbert Arenas contract. They have a favorable cap structure and flexibility, which puts them miles ahead of us. By contrast, when we started to retool the roster, we had tons of assets and near-limitless flexibility.
      So that’s where we are. If any of you think the modest combined potential of Monroe, Knight and Jerebko (notice, too, how Daye’s name and even Stuckey’s have been drifting further and further away from the conversation) is enough to be hopeful and excited for the future of the team, I both applaud and lament your patience. Monroe is a great piece, but he probably falls short of spectacular. Knight could be great as well, but we’re a ways away from projecting amazing things for him. Jerebko is a solid energy guy, of which there are plenty in the league; he just looks indispensable when compared to the roster average. This is getting really depressing.
      I’d feel so much better if Joe were just fired already so we might actually be convinced that a corner has been turned.

  • Jan 18, 201211:58 pm
    by Ryi


    I discredit everything Laser has said because he just watch American History X with his Ol lady last night.  Your personality is more predictable then a sorority college girl.

    • Jan 19, 20124:03 pm
      by Laser


      She wanted to watch it. It’s a good flick!

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