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Pistons ignore their biggest (only?) offensive advantage in loss to Milwaukee

It wasn’t super savvy analysis when I noted in the game preview that, with Andrew Bogut out, Milwaukee would be relatively weak in the middle and Greg Monroe should be able to score efficiently inside. Monroe did those things, converting 67 percent of his shots in the Pistons loss. He had another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Unfortunately, less efficient scorers Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye took more shots than him and, not surprisingly, didn’t hit many of them. They combined to shoot just 13-for-42. It’s even more frustrating when you consider three of Monroe’s 12 attempts were missed tip-ins that came on a single possession.

The other night, I went into detail about how the Pistons just simply played dumb basketball. They did it again, so there’s no point in expounding in great detail once again. Bad teams often don’t play smart, and the Pistons don’t. What has been confounding is that Prince, in particular, and Stuckey to some extent, have been around long enough to recognize when a post guy has a definite advantage and get him the ball a lot. The Pistons have technical issues too — the perimeter guys as a whole do a really terrible job of creating good enough spacing to make entry passes, so as a result, they often throw the ball around a lot, can’t get it to Monroe in a good spot, then settle for a long jumper when the shot clock is running down.

The Pistons don’t have many easily correctable problems, but this seemingly should’ve been one. In the first quarter at one point, Monroe had just three shots while Stuckey/Prince had combined to take 12. There’s no possible way that the Pistons could’ve gone into this game without talking about getting Monroe the ball a lot. It’s disappointing that they didn’t do it much early and it’s disappointing that they didn’t really make the necessary adjustments to get him more shots. It’s on the coaching staff and it’s on the guys on the floor for not recognizing an obvious mismatch the entire game.

Plenty more bad games are ahead for the Pistons this season, but watching the failure of veteran players in particular to recognize mismatches has been probably the most frustrating part of the season for me.

Knight and Daye struggle in reversed ways

Against Philadelphia, Brandon Knight played poorly, but he stayed aggressive. He still looked for his shot (even if he missed 13-of-17) and he came up with a steal and a couple of deflections on defense. Lawrence Frank lived with the struggles and Knight still played 37 minutes.

Against Milwaukee, he played poorly and wasn’t aggressive. He only shot the ball four times (making zero), he turned it over four times and he failed to be an impediment at all to Brandon Jennings, who was in the lane most of the night. Consequently, Knight was benched.

Most of the season, Austin Daye struggled with his shot, became passive on the court and passed up good looks that were in his range. As a result, Frank benched him and removed him from the rotation for several games.

Against Milwaukee, Daye’s shot wasn’t falling, but he kept aggressively looking for it. He played 37 minutes.

Although I think Frank has been to patient with mistake-prone veterans, I think he’s clearly been consistent with how he handles young players, and this is a perfect illustration of it. Much of the season, Knight has been allowed to play through ups and downs because he plays hard, with energy and aggressively. Daye has not because he’s often been passive and lacked energy. Tonight the roles reversed, and Daye was allowed to play through his shooting struggles because of his activity while Knight wasn’t because of his passivity.

Agree or disagree with how Frank is handling their minutes, at least he’s being consistent in his reasoning.

What to make of Jerebko?

I agreed with Frank’s thinking when he decided to bring Jonas Jerebko off the bench to save him from early fouls. The problem is Jerebko’s offense is clearly hurt by not playing as much with Monroe. Jerebko is great at moving without the ball and Monroe is great at finding cutters. Jerebko isn’t a great perimeter shooter, but the attention Monroe draws gets Jerebko cleaner looks from outside. As a reserve, Jerebko’s shooting has fallen from 47 to 43 percent. His 3-point shooting has fallen from 36 to 26 percent.

I don’t think it’s terribly vital to start Jerebko, his future in the league might be as a high energy combo forward off the bench anyway. But the chemistry he and Monroe were developing might be more important than Jerebko picking up the occasional cheap foul.

39 Comments

  • Jan 30, 201210:34 pm
    by Tiko

    Reply

    blown out by Milwaukee??? i dont think there’s another team more deserving of the #1 pick

    • Jan 30, 201211:16 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      What about the teams the ‘Stones blew out?–and the Bucks are 9-11 and they have had a rough schedule.

      • Jan 31, 201210:06 am
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        “What about the teams the ‘Stones blew out?”

        Uh … Charlotte? That’s the only Pistons win that qualifies as a blowout. They beat Orlando by 11 I guess, but I don’t really call that a “blowout.” Plus, everyone beats Orlando these days.

        • Jan 31, 20123:30 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          Final scores are one thing but the ‘Stones did indeed blow out the Pacers and the Magic and last night’s game is the opposite case since the score at the end of the 3rd quarter gave the Pistons a much better chance than the Pacers or Magic had in those games.

          • Jan 31, 20123:33 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            Uh … saywhatnow? The score at the end of the third was 75-60 Milwaukee.

  • Jan 30, 201210:56 pm
    by Ryi

    Reply

    Greg Monroe needed to shoot a hand full of times more then he did and get to the line.  He can shoot so he needs to use that to his advantage.  I know he does not get a ton of calls because of his age but if he gets his man up in the air he will.

    Knight without energy we won’t see too often, I don’t blame him because he is trying to find the balance of being agressive while sharing the basketball and getting more assists.  I’m sorry but 3rd in rookies with 3.5 assist a game is pretty bad if you are so post to run the point.  He is smart enough to know sense he can shoot draw people to him and find the open man.  The closer the better sense FG% is so low.  If not take the open shot, but he usually shoots too much especially for a young point guard, bottom line.

    • Jan 31, 201210:08 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      The problem wasn’t his lack of aggression on offense, it was his lack of aggression on defense. Jennings destroyed him.

  • Jan 30, 201211:23 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Good point about Frank’s handling of Daye and Knight tonight though Jerebko fouled out in his role off the bench and does play a good deal with Monroe whether he starts or not.
    I don’t agree with getting on Stuckey or Prince who played pretty well and who would have gotten some more assists if their teammates could hit open jumpers, but that speaks to your point about the trouble with getting Monroe the ball when the lack of consistent shooting leads to the spacing being so poor.
    I would like to see Monroe more actively call for the ball and work and push to get himself good position.  I think that’s the next step for him on offense.
    BTW: I should have been counting but since it’s being brought up so often, I marked many occasions when Prince passed the ball within a second or two of receiving it and he was passing the ball to Monroe.

    • Jan 31, 201210:11 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “I don’t agree with getting on Stuckey or Prince who played pretty well and who would have gotten some more assists if their teammates could hit open jumpers”

      My issue with them is the offense should not be going through either of them. Based on Frank’s comments before the game, they wanted Monroe to get a lot of touches, so I don’t think the coaching staff was telling Prince and Stuckey to dribble around the perimeter trying to figure out how to make an entry pass then settle for a contested jumper instead.

      They both play really stupid basketball. Stuckey I expect it from because he’s never played with the highest basketball IQ. I have a problem with Prince playing that way though, because he was re-signed specifically for his intelligence. He’s played anything but intelligently this season.

      • Jan 31, 20122:55 pm
        by T.J.

        Reply

        Agreed, Patrick.
        I was at the game last night and it was so frustrating watching Tayshaun jack up ill-advised jumpers with one or two hands in his face late in the shot clock.  It was frustrating watching Stuckey drive into two or three defenders only to have no outlet options.  So much to hate about this game.
        Agree 100%.

      • Jan 31, 20123:32 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        There aren’t enough ball handlers on this team for the offense not to go through them and Knight turns the ball over too much for him to run it 100% of the time which would be the alternative.

        • Jan 31, 20123:45 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          The issue is Stuckey and Prince don’t run any offense. If you run the offense through them, the offense consists of one or the other dribbling around a lot. I would much rather put the ball in Knight’s hands and live with his turnovers to be honest. The more Prince, in particular, touches the ball, the worse this team plays offensively.

  • Jan 30, 201211:33 pm
    by Mark

    Reply

    Perimeter players ignoring Monroe? What’s new?

    Frank should be fired eithe for how little control he has over his offense, or because he has complete control and he’s choosing to pass the ball around the perimeter for 20 sec and jack up jumpshots instead of going inside to Monroe every time.

    This offense is pathetic and Frank needs to be held accountable. We knew we didn’t have the personnel to be good defensively, but there’s a lot of scorers on this team and a pretty darn consistent low post scoring Center. No excuse for why Frank can’t organize a better offense than 30th in the league with this roster.

    Joe did not put together a good roster by any means, but its made to look much worse because of the piss poor coaching. There’s talent on this team where they should be better than 4-18, and last in the the league in virtually every statistical category.

    This team reminds me so much of the ’09-’10 Nets team that Frank coached. Time to start blaming his ineptitude as much as ppl give him a pass for the rosters he has. At some point he gets the blame. He’s now lost 34 of his last 38 games, with 2 different franchises. If it was just 1 team, maybe he gets a pass for bad roster, but 2 different franchises b2b, that’s on him as much as the rosters.

    • Jan 31, 201210:13 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “At some point he gets the blame.”

      That point is not now. Ultimately, this roster sucks. He should be judged solely on the improvement of Monroe, Knight, Daye and Jerebko at this point.

      What is becoming abundantly clear is that those important young pieces do not fit with the expensive veterans. I’m honestly glad it is being exposed so obviously right now.

  • Jan 31, 201212:01 am
    by Travis

    Reply

    If I coach 2 girls middle school teams against boys high school varsity teams I wouldn’t expect many wins. coaching is not the problem as much as the roster, sometimes even the best coach can’t win with the players he has. And besides Monroe the pistons are lacking serious talent.

    • Jan 31, 201210:16 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Exactly. Red Auerbach could coach this team and they’d still be a four win team right now. They’re bad, as bad as any team in the league. That’s actually good — Detroit needed to bottom out to get in the top of this year’s lottery. Unfortunately, teams that bottom out should have a better financial picture than the Pistons have.

      As I said above, Frank should be judged on how the young players progress by season’s end and that’s it. Next year, with more talent, it will be more fair to look at actual x’s and o’s type coaching decisions/win-loss record and evaluate.

  • Jan 31, 201212:09 am
    by Max

    Reply

    All the new coaches are in extremely difficult positions this year regarding their ability to implement their own offense.  There has simply been almost no practicing this year and Frank focused on teaching defense during the truncated preseason.
    Further, I don’t know whether you like that Knight is getting a lot of minutes and starts but Knight is the youngest player in the entire NBA, he is playing the most difficult position for a rookie to play and he did not have the benefit of a summer league so while his turnovers make me crazy, I know I just have to be patient.

  • Jan 31, 201212:11 am
    by Max

    Reply

    BTW: Byron Scott has the Cavs overachieving this year so far and is doing a great job but last year he set an all time record for futility, losing 26 games in a row,.

  • Jan 31, 201212:17 am
    by Max

    Reply

    SUGGESTION:  How about a post regarding Monroe’s improved free throw shooting.  I think it’s been a revelation and has me really fired up because as good as he was last year, the free throws this year remove last year’s biggest flaw.  I also wonder if any player ever made as big an improvement in free throws from one year to the next or even throughout a career.

    • Jan 31, 201210:19 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      It was mentioned here and in three or four other posts at least.

      • Jan 31, 20123:33 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Ok, but I’m really curious about whether other players have made as great an improvement.   I don’t know where you come up with the stats or I would do it myself.

        • Jan 31, 20123:46 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I’ll dig around and try and find something. Not sure off the top of my head how to find that comparison. Feldman will probably be able to find it.

          • Jan 31, 20125:13 pm
            by Max

            I’ve been a pretty avid fan of the league for a long time and while I’ve been racking my brain, I honestly can’t remember a player who made such an improvement though I asked my father, and he did recall one player whose name escapes me from the 60s.  Still, I was trying to temper my expectations since the good free throw shooting could have been just an aberration, but at this point, I’m starting to think the great free throw shooting might be for real.

          • Jan 31, 20125:14 pm
            by Max

            Thanks.

  • Jan 31, 201212:47 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    Memo to Mr Dumars: Its so good to see that 7 million per season for veteran leadership working out for the team. Might as well start embroiding those Andre Drummond or Anthony Davis gurnsey’s now. 2 thumbs up big guy!

  • Jan 31, 201212:59 am
    by Ryi

    Reply

    40 points in the paint, I don’t think going inside was too much of an issue compared to other stats.  When you shoot 13 more times then the other team and lose by 21 now thats a problem.  Ill say it again Frank gave up on this game before the end of the third, maybe because of the busy schd up ahead.  But thats no excuse, its a short season, we have some youth, and YOU GET PAID MILLIONS!  Come on man…

    • Jan 31, 20122:16 am
      by gmehl1977

      Reply

      Its obvious that we don’t have a flat out scorer on this team that can put it in the hole at will. I guess that job was supposed to be a combo of BG and CV. I felt silly writing that but that was in fact Joe’s master plan. Nothing else in the box scores stood out apart from the fact they hit 8 x 3 pointers to our 0 x 3 pointers. If we shot it 13 more times than they did and still lost by 21 it clearly shows that we can’t throw the ball in the ocean if we tried.

    • Jan 31, 201210:20 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “Ill say it again Frank gave up on this game before the end of the third”

      Uh … I think the players gave up on this game about three minutes into the first quarter.

      • Jan 31, 20123:34 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        What about when they played well to close out the first half?

        • Jan 31, 20123:52 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Honestly, there was nothing redeeming in that game. It was out of reach from start to finish. There were a couple of two or three minute stretches where the bench gave Detroit a couple runs. But it was a blowout. There was no life, no energy, no defense, nothing. It might have been the worst they’ve looked this season. If it wasn’t, it was close.

    • Jan 31, 20122:58 pm
      by T.J.

      Reply

      This game was atrocious from the get-go.

  • Jan 31, 20122:48 am
    by Pete

    Reply

    Im done analyzing this team because its the same story different game so I switch to this..I’ll never wish unemployment on another person but……..The Pistons are losing games, fans and respectability..Sorry Joe D but you got to GO…Matt Millen got the axe..for all those bad Lions teams…Joe D’s decisions are just plain ridiculous.from the signing of BG and CV..to the RESIGNING of Prince..trading Billups for A.I. NOT Amnestying BG instead of buying out Rip(Rip wouldve fit well with Knight)..trading players like Amir Johnson(hmm young athletic defensive PF…wow) Afflalo(imagine him paired with Knight instead of Stuckey)passing on Blair for Daye in the draft(hows that working out..) and not attempting to make a MOVE in free agency(Humphries would look good next to Monroe) but watch..Joe is gonna luck up and land i high pick in the draft and draft a no brainer like Davis or Drummond and look like a genius..LOL

    • Jan 31, 201210:28 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      This is my take on the ‘Fire Dumars’ stuff that is sure to get louder (and I’m sure I’ll address this in an actual post at some point):

      His body of work over the last four years is enough to cost him his job. His bad moves — investing loads of long-term money in marginal players — outweigh the solid draft picks he’s made. The jury is still out on Frank, but his previous two coaching hires were terrible.

      But here’s the thing: new ownership supposedly (according to Gores anyway) did their homework, so they knew all that stuff. They knew about the terrible contracts. They knew about him undervaluing Arron Afflalo and, to a lesser extent, Amir Johnson. They knew about him over-valuing Gordon/Hamilton/Villanueva. They knew that it was a lie that this team was simply “retooling” and used the word “rebuilding” for the first time.

      They knew the talent base had become incredibly barren and that it would need time to be built back up. And they chose Dumars to be the guy to do that. So unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your faith in Dumars, he’s the guy. Any exec chosen to rebuild this lot can’t be expected to do it in one offseason. Gores decided to wipe the slate clean, according to his public comments, so Dumars is going to get at a minimum another two or three years to get this right. Fair or not based on the miscalculations he made under the previous ownership, that’s the reality. He’s not going anywhere.

       

      • Jan 31, 20123:22 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        You say he deserves to be fired but you don’t mention any replacement.  The fact is that anyone else that could be hired would be a shot in the dark regarding whether they’d be an improvement on Dumars since there is no GM that could possibly be hired who has championship pedigree or even much success.
        I totally disagree that he should be fired because missing the playoffs for two years after the Pistons longest run of excellence ever, which was almost entirely due to Dumars’ credit, is not a long drought and they already have Monroe and Knight for their pains.  Add one more and higher lottery pick and they’ve got their young nucleus for their next run so I, for one, am not complaining.
        Further, Dumars’ stretch that supposedly makes him worthy of firing occurred during a protracted ownership sale that whether you believe tied Dumars hands or not, definitely coincided with him making fewer changes than is consistent with his previous history in general.

        • Jan 31, 20123:30 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          That’s the thing … I don’t have a replacement in mind. Have I lost confidence in Dumars based on a collection of horrid moves? Yeah, I have. But is there a GM candidate out there I think could do a better job? Not necessarily.

          I didn’t say he “deserved” to be fired. I won’t pretend to know the behind the scenes things he does/value he brings to the organization. I’m sure there are probably qualities there that the public doesn’t see but ownership values. I simply said that personnel-wise, he’s screwed up enough big moves to be fired. I don’t think that means he should be fired, just that there’s a legit case that he could be. This will be his fourth straight losing season. It might be the worst season in Pistons history record-wise. And he’s wasted a lot of money on players that turned out to be bad investments. Those things alone cost many a GM their jobs.

          • Jan 31, 20123:40 pm
            by Max

            One thing on that score though: remember how teams gutted themselves in preparation for the summer of LeBum or tanked in the years of Duncan or LeBum being drafted.  If the Pistons do indeed post their worst record ever, it will come during one of the best year’s in the history of the league to do so and the cocensus is that this upcoming draft is the best in a decade.   I’m not suggesting Dumars really planned this but it is serendipitous and I don’t think it will be to Dumars credit if he doesn’t make a move before the deadline just to try and win a few more games by season’s end.

  • Jan 31, 20124:26 am
    by Vince

    Reply

    I had the worst nightmare: Dumars picking Barnes or Lamb over Drummond or Unibrow. I thought I was going to die. 

    Otherwise, meh. The Pistons always find a way of either losing really close games competitively or lose games by playing ugly basketball. Either way I hope my nightmare doesn’t become true, and that the Pistons keep playing as bad as they are now. I mean they can only get better after this season right? Right?

    • Jan 31, 201210:30 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Ugh, that would be horrible.

      Although I will say this: I would love to see a Knight-Jeremy Lamb backcourt. I certainly don’t want Dumars to reach for Lamb in the top of the lottery, but I love watching Lamb play defense. They’d give the Pistons two long-armed defenders in the backcourt and, if they develop as they should, put constant pressure on opposing guards.

      But yeah, if the Pistons don’t come out of this draft with a starting caliber big, it’s a huge failure.

  • Jan 31, 20125:19 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Yesterday was an ugly game and effort and I was wrong about the score at the end of the 3rd quarter but they were hovering around 10 points down for most of the third, were behind by 6 at the half, did make a good run in the 2nd half of the 2nd quarter and it was not their worst game of the season.   When they played Memphis for instance the game was over before the end of the first quarter.

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