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Archive → February, 2012

Rodney Stuckey’s improvement stems from position change, restraint

Michael Pina of Shaky Ankles:

The change has been eye-opening. According to 82games.com, this season Stuckey’s per-48 minute PER as a shooting guard has been three points higher than when he was running the point. His eFG% went from 33.1% to 49.7%, and while he averaged one more shot per-48 minutes as a point guard, he’s averaging 5.4 more points nestled into his more comfortable situation. Overall though, this isn’t about how Stuckey’s numbers are soaring through the stratosphere. He’s averaging a career low in shot attempts per-36 minutes, with the worst assist and rebound numbers since his rookie year. But on the other end of the spectrum he’s attempting over seven free-throws per-36 minutes, a career best. His usage rate has dropped to the lowest it’s ever been but his TS% is a personal best. Seeing a theme here? This is a celebration of restraint and temperment. In the case of Rodney Stuckey, less means so much more. He’s shooting threes in flow with the offense and attacking in transition at one of the most efficient rates in the league

Rodney Stuckey is probably only a slightly better player than he was last season, but he’s playing much better. Pina’s numbers explain the change.

Boston Globe compares Celtics’ situation with crossroads the Pistons found themselves at

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe recently spoke with Joe Dumars, comparing what he experienced with an aging veteran contender nearing the end of its run to the position Danny Ainge finds himself in with the Celtics right now. Most of Dumars’ quotes in the piece are the Joe D non-quotes we’ve all grown accustomed to:

“What we tried to do is clearly go with a younger base of guys,’’ Dumars said. “But what we’ve done is kept one or two veterans to help with the transition, Prince and Ben Wallace.

“It takes some patience. There’s a delicate balance because you want to create expectations for your young guys to be able to grow. But you also have to be patient to allow them to get there, so you’re constantly battling expectation and patience at the same time and it’s a daily issue you have to deal with.’’

There was nothing particularly revelatory from a Pistons perspective in the story, but I do find the comparison to Boston interesting. They’re the most intriguing team to watch as the deadline approaches. They have a huge expiring contract in Kevin Garnett, a couple of still good yet old and pricey veterans in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and they have a young All-Star on a reasonable contract in Rajon Rondo who, for some reason, Ainge has floated in trade rumors like a thousand times over the last few seasons. Clearly, Boston isn’t good enough to get out of the East. Ainge is such a wildcard. If there’s a GM out there that has the potential to undertake a crazier rebuilding “strategy” than the one Dumars attempted, it’s definitely Ainge.

Pistons named ‘Most Disappointing’ by Ken Berger of CBS Sports

It’s strange to think of the Pistons as a disappointment in the first half of the season because really, who expected them to do much in the first place? It was clear that this season was probably not going to result in many wins. But Ken Berger of CBS Sports is still disappointed, namely because the defense remains so porous:

Biggest disappointment: Detroit Pistons. Not that much more could have been expected. It’s just sad to see a proud franchise stuck like this, with little means to get out of it. Also, with Lawrence Frank at the helm, I didn’t expect them to defend this poorly.

Detroit’s defensive lapses have been well-documented this season. I’m not sure it’s a correctable problem, particularly mid-season, to be honest. It might take a full offseason for Frank to fully implement the defensive system he wants to run. Oh, and adding better personnel at a few positions in the offseason wouldn’t hurt either.

Ben Wallace says Greg Monroe is ready to lead the Pistons

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News has a great feature on Greg Monroe‘s emergence not only as a highly productive player, but as a vocal presence in the locker room. The article has plenty of serious stuff, such as Ben Wallace’s belief that Monroe is ready to take over as the team’s vocal leader right now, but it’s also full of entertaining quotes like this one:

Monroe considers himself diverse, and wants to be defined as more than a basketball player.

He listens to rappers Rick Ross, Drake and 2 Chainz, but also has Katy Perry on his iPod.

He’s also been caught humming the opening lyrics of Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” a song that came out nearly 20 years before Monroe was born.

The New Orleans native can’t help it sometimes, being called an old soul by just about anyone who comes around him.

“I know people say that (laughs),” said Monroe, whose nickname is “Moose”, but the one that fits slightly better is “Pa-Pa,” given to him by a girl he knew in high school in reference to his old man nature.

“I know it’s a compliment. It just comes from being where I’m from.”

Ben Gordon still planning to play for Great Britain in 2012 Olympics

SportingLife.com (via Detroit Bad Boys):

The London-born Gordon told the Daily Mirror: “I am playing in the summer and I’m really excited about it.

“I’m looking forward to the Olympics. I’ve got a lot of family there so it will be nice to see them and it will be a great competition with us really looking to be the surprise team.”

Gordon will be reunited with former Bulls teammate Luol Deng, who also plans to play for Great Britain:

Gordon is excited about playing along side Deng once more.

“It’s going to be great, it’ll be like old times in Chicago,” he said.

“I haven’t had the chance to play with him since leaving the Bulls so I’m looking forward to it.”

Joe Dumars isn’t ready to call Greg Monroe an All-Star yet

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press asks a question I’ve been hoping someone would ask Joe Dumars for a while now:

“Should Greg Monroe have been an All-Star this season?”

After taking that moment to consider, one would think the Pistons president of basketball operations would have enthusiastically answered in the affirmative for his second-year center.

But Dumars finally said Monroe, who is averaging 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, still has some work to do before being mentioned among the NBA’s best big men.

“I wouldn’t mention him right now, simply because he’s not there yet, but I will say this: We really like the direction he’s headed in,” Dumars said. “We know he has to continue to get better. When you have young players, they are either headed in the right direction, they’re stagnant or they’re headed in the wrong direction. Greg Monroe is headed in the right direction.”

I’ve ranted enough on this topic over the last few weeks, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But what just seems crazy to me is the Pistons have never really shied away from ratcheting up expectations for young players, particularly with Rodney Stuckey, who has been compared to everyone from Chauncey Billups to Russell Westbrook by people close to the organization during his career. Even this year with Brandon Knight, I’ve heard (and been annoyed by) the Isiah Thomas whispers by George Blaha, among a few others. In Monroe, they have a player who is actually producing at a level commensurate with his potential, and suddenly everyone close to the team is taking a toned down, rational approach to talking about young players? This is your guy! Sell him!

I don’t know if Monroe is an All-Star. I certainly agree with Dumars that he has areas of his game that still need work and that hopefully he stays hungry and puts in that work. But statistically, Monroe stacks up with any center in the East not named Howard. He’s really, really close production-wise to Roy Hibbert, who is an All-Star. Part of me gets Dumars taking that understated approach to praising Monroe but part of me also wishes the organization would scream out loud and tell everyone how great Monroe has played. As we saw last year when Monroe got jobbed in end of the year rookie awards, he certainly suffered from a lack of awareness about his talent and what he produced.

Austin Daye’s terrible season puts him in awards discussion

Austin Daye is a contender for a few anti-awards, honors bestowed by Ian Levy of Hickory-High for “the most miserable and discouraging achievements in basketball”:

The Darrick Martin AwardThis award goes to the player with the lowest FG% and a minimum of 150 attempts. The award is named for Darrick Martin, a career 38.2% shooter who played 514 games over 13 NBA seasons.

Austin Daye has set a torrid pace, shooting just 30.5% from the field. Home/Road, Day Of The Week, Western Conference/Eastern Conference; any which way you split his numbers an epically bad shooting season rises to the surface. They have a lot of ground to make up, but Toney Douglas and Metta World Peace are still in the race.

The Matt Bullard AwardThis award goes to the player 6’10? or taller with the lowest Total Rebound Percentage. (Minimum 300 minutes)

If not for the minute requirement Steve Novak would have already won this award multiple times. Finding a spot in the Knicks rotation make him a legit candidate this year, with a TRB% of just 6.4%. All the usual characters, including Hedo Turkoglu, Danilo Gallinari, Rashard Lewis, Matt Bonner and Austin Daye, are right there as well.

The Andrea Bargnani Award (Formerly the Darius Songaila Award)– This award goes to the player who has provided his team with the least overall production. I use Wins Produced to determine the winner here. (Minimum 300 minutes)

At the end of last season this award was renamed, after Andrea Bargnani finished his second consecutive season as the wire-to-wire leader. Bargnani is due some serious recognition for actually moving his production into the positive range. That leaves a giant mess at the bottom with Austin Daye, Corey Maggette, Sebastian Telfair, Toney Douglas and Shawne Williams all doing way more harm than good. Each has brought their own unique negative contributions, but Daye really seems to be working on something special this season. At this point, the smart money is on him.

Check out the other awards. They’re a barrel of fun

Michigan men, women, whites, African-Americans, other races, young, middle-aged, old, Democrats, Republicans, John McCain voters, Barack Obama voters, liberals, conservatives, union members, non-union members don’t like Pistons

Public Policy Polling surveyed Michigan voters this month (hat tip: Detroit Free Press), and one of the questions was:

Is your favorite pro sports team in Michigan the Lions, Pistons, Red Wings, or Tigers?

The Pistons didn’t fare well in the results:

  • Tigers: 29 percent
  • Lions: 27 percent
  • Red Wings: 20 percent
  • Pistons: 6 percent

If that weren’t troubling enough for the Pistons, they finished last in all but one subset:

  • Women: Last (9 percent)
  • Men: Last (2 percent)
  • Whites: Last (3 percent)
  • African Americans: Second (23 percent)
  • Other races: Last (7 percent)
  • Those 18-to-29-years-old: Last (3 percent)
  • Those 30-to-45-years-old: Last (4 percent)
  • Those 46-to-65-years-old: Last (9 percent)
  • Those 65-and-older: Last (4 percent)
  • Democrats: Last (10 percent)
  • Republicans: Last (3 percent)
  • John McCain voters in 2008: Last (4 percent)
  • Barack Obama voters in 2008: Last (8 percent)
  • Very liberals: Last (4 percent)
  • Somewhat liberals: Last (12 percent)
  • Moderates: Last (5 percent)
  • Somewhat conservatives: Last (3 percent)
  • Very conservatives: Last (4 percent)
  • Union members: Last (5 percent)
  • Non-union members: Last (6 percent)

The worst news in that list for the Pistons: how few young people consider them their favorite team.

Should Greg Monroe have replaced Joe Johnson on the All-Star roster?

With Joe Johnson of the Hawks injured and out of the All-Star Game, the door was slightly nudged open again for Greg Monroe to maybe possibly get some consideration for the spot, although the league ultimately (and fairly) picked Rajon Rondo to fill the opening.

Zack Lowe of Sports Illustrated included Monroe, however, among his potential candidates for the open spot:

Monroe is having a splendid season and has already emerged as one of the league’s great big-man passers. But his struggles on defense are much more pronounced than (Ryan) Anderson’s, in part because Monroe has no Dwight Howard on whom to to lean. Detroit games are filled with breakdowns, miscommunication and flat-footed big men trying to contain guards. Monroe, for all his brilliance, has been among the guilty parties.

Lowe actually wrote that last line about flat-footedness before last night’s performance against the Raptors, when Monroe had another bad defensive showing. I certainly believe Monroe has a credible case to contend for an All-Star spot, and I’ve written ad nauseum about my belief that the team really should’ve built a campaign for him (because really, what else are you going to do?), but after watching that Raptors game last night, I’m a little less passionate about making the case than I was yesterday. Gotta work on that D.

Greg Monroe earns Pistons a C- in Sports Illustrated midseason grades

Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated delivered his midseason grades, giving the Pistons a C-:

On Feb. 1, Detroit lost its seventh straight game to fall to 4-20, and it was beginning to look like the player mutiny against then-coach John Kuester last season might not be the modern nadir of the franchise after all. But since then, the Pistons have won seven of nine, and with games against Cleveland and Toronto this week, they have a chance to go into the All-Star break with genuine momentum. Guard Rodney Stuckey has finally overcome injuries enough to help lighten the load on second-year center Greg Monroe, who is having a breakout year. The roster is still littered with terrible long-term contracts and laden with combo guards at the expense of those who make ball distribution a priority. And the bargain coach Lawrence Frank recently struck with his players — make a stop on defense and you can freelance on offense — sounds like the teaching process is at ground zero. But winning games while you develop a franchise center isn’t a bad way to end the first half.

To summarize: thank Basketball God for Greg Monroe.