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New York Times notices that the Brandon Knight-Rodney Stuckey backcourt just might work long-term

Rob Mahoney of The New York Times:

Joe Dumars’ decision to sign Rodney Stuckey to a three-year, $25.5 million contract shortly after drafting Brandon Knight registered as a bit curious, if not altogether regrettable; with no need to compete immediately, the idea that Knight’s playing time might be curtailed seemed like an undesirable possibility.

That has been anything but the case, as Stuckey and Knight have improbably become a rather effective back-court pair. Neither is much of a ball-dominant playmaker at this point (though Knight has the aptitude), which means both have ample opportunity to create for themselves and others in their collective effort to keep the Pistons’ offense afloat.

This new chemistry provides a referendum on Stuckey. Detroit’s point guard of the past is currently on a 10-game tear, during which he has posted per-game averages of 22.5 points (on 50 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range) and 5.1 assists –- all while sharing a backcourt with Knight as a functional combo guard. Knight may be deemed the point guard, but Stuckey has provided him and the Pistons’ offense with fail-safe utility.

I had high hopes that Knight and Stuckey could co-exist in the same backcourt, but I’ll admit, I didn’t think Stuckey’s best role long-term would be starting. I thought the Pistons would eventually find a more traditional shooting guard, then let Stuckey be their sixth man, getting 30ish minutes a game filling in at either guard spot. I’ve changed that view some though. Between the two of them, Stuckey and Knight add up to about one full PG and one full SG, with both guys sharing the roles of each position depending on situations and matchups. As long as Knight continues to improve and Stuckey’s second half of the season is finally a sign that he’s arrived, I have no issue with this as Detroit’s starting backcourt for a long time.

37 Comments

  • Mar 21, 20122:21 pm
    by RationalSportsFan

    Reply

    I have been pleasantly surprised by the success of Stuckey and Knight as a unit this year.  Two related things that I did not expect seem to account for this:  each is shooting the three MUCH better than I expected.  I did not expect Knight to be such a solid spot-up three point shooter, and I certainly didn’t expect Stuckey to increase his 3-pt% by ten points.  Hopefully the improvement isn’t just small sample size statistical noise.
     
    Knight should be especially fun to watch in future years, after he gets full (non-lockout) offseasons to hone his outside shooting.

  • Mar 21, 20122:57 pm
    by rick77

    Reply

    You can only imagine what a little more seasoning and training camp together would do for them. Also add in the addition of another big man and you have to components of a competitive young team moving forward. The thing is they need an athletic big and maybe two more backups at the wing and the point. We address those needs and who knows what the ceiling can be. Speaking of big men anyone have any word on why Hickson wants to go to Golden State? do they have more money to offer? I would think we have a better situation to offer but obviously I am biased. Any thoughts? Another question and this one is for Patrick, is their any reason to not go after Ryan Hollins is he not any good? and why did Joe not give Terrence Williams a look in your opinion? I hear Williams is a head case and when I look at his past and his last two coaches I take in the fact they were former players Johnson and McHale and I think maybe they had higher expectations of him. I dont doubt the same thing from Smart either but he may be less stringent in his approach. Is he not good or just going through some things?

    • Mar 21, 20123:04 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      The Pistons do have an open roster spot, but it might be a situation where Dumars isn’t allowed to use it for cost-saving reasons. A handful of teams did not fill their final spot this season just so they could avoid paying salary to an end of the bench player who probably wouldn’t play much.

      I don’t know for sure that this is why the Pistons haven’t pursued guys, but it could be a reason.

      • Mar 21, 20123:27 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        How much cost saving would there really be in not going after Hickson? I am 100% of the belief that Detroit should be going after basically every young big with potential they can find. Give them all a shot. Even with Monroe, Maxiell, and Wallace, there are extra minutes. Just plug Jerebko in at the 3 a bit more and take away all of Wilkins’ PT.

        • Mar 21, 20123:42 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Oh I agree, I’m just saying, there are a handful of teams, and I believe Detroit is probably one of them, who are under orders from ownership not to fill that roster spot. Don’t think the cost savings is anything significant, but there were team owners who definitely didn’t want to pay to fill those spots post-lockout.

          • Mar 21, 20127:13 pm
            by Chris

            Hickson’s looking for guaranteed minutes.  Do you overrule Lawrence Frank and guarantee Hickson minutes for his ‘showcase’ for his next contract?

            I wouldn’t spoil that brew.  If he were content with beating out Maxiell or Wallace, I’d sign him yesterday.  If not, I wouldn’t risk Frank’s credibility.  He seems to be building a relationship with Stuckey, Monroe, Knight, Jerebko, and company.

            And, if you’re going to gift a guy minutes, wouldn’t you first look internally?  You have young players like Daye and Macklin who could probably use the time.  And, for purposes of acquiring assets, you’d probably want to try to play Villanueva, Bynum, and Gordon into trade value.  *shrugs*

            Just my opinion.

          • Mar 21, 20127:15 pm
            by tarsier

            Nobody will guarantee him minutes. I mean, maybe at first. And I’d be fine with guaranteeing him minutes for the first three games or whatever. And if he shows by then he’s got nothing, you relegate him to the bench. I don’t believe any team would give him more than that, regardless of what he’s looking for.

        • Mar 21, 20123:47 pm
          by Jodi Jezz

          Reply

          We don’t need Hickson, we have plenty back up PF’s…Dumars is looking for a Center so we can move Monroe to the starting PF position…Hopefully we can draft a good Center and/or sign Kaman in the off-season…
          I always knew Stuckey was going to be moved to the SG position and Kinight was going to play PG…I’m just glad Stuckey jump shot has shown improvement throughout the season…All we need is Gordon to get going off the bench then our 3-guard rotation will be dangerous…

          • Mar 21, 20125:05 pm
            by tarsier

            Hickson, like Monroe, is a PF/C.

          • Mar 21, 20125:08 pm
            by tarsier

            “Dumars is looking for a Center so we can move Monroe to the starting PF position”

            Do you have any evidence at all for this claim? I’ve heard people say he should, people like you. But I have no basis to believe that Dumars doesn’t think Monroe is equally well suited to playing the 4 or the 5. In fact, I have reason to believe he does think that. Namely, that Langlois, who probably has a more direct line to Joe D than almost anyone, clearly does.

          • Mar 21, 20128:51 pm
            by Jodi Jezz

            What more evidence do you need when Dumars was actively trying to trade for Kaman and McGee at the trade deadline…In addition, look at Monroe’s game…He almost has a consistent mid ranger jumper and he has a nice first step before driving…The guy is suited to play PF…We are just short starting quality big men…
            Lanlois?? You mean the writer for the Pistons??

          • Mar 21, 20129:51 pm
            by tarsier

            Yes, everyone knows that Dumars recognizes that the Pistons need another big. They are thin up front. But he has never said or done anything to indicate that he particularly wants Monroe at PF. In fact, I would be shocked if he did not think that Monroe was equally suited to PF or C. And yes, by Langlois, I refer tot he Pistons’ writer. Because he communicates more with Joe D than just about any other sportswriter.

  • Mar 21, 20125:05 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    excellent article.
    thanks for the link.

  • Mar 21, 20125:21 pm
    by neutes

    Reply

    Might as well just say Stuckey makes Knight look good enough to play in the NBA. And even then I’m still not sure about that. What if Knight had to play a more traditional PG role? What if he didn’t have Stuckey to help him out? And I’m not sold Knight makes Stuckey any better. Stuckey just plain got better. His 3 point shooting is better. He’s getting to the line at an insane clip. He’s out assisting Knight on a nightly basis. He’s just been better. Knight kind of sucks, but hey, he’s got potential, or something.

    • Mar 21, 20125:40 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      How many rookies have more than potential? There’s Irving and Rubio and then… ummm…

      • Mar 21, 20126:12 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        Kenneth Faried, although he’s not a PG. He is still the guy I wanted after all those big guys went ahead of Detroit. I wanted Detroit to trade down, pick up Faried, and try to get something else for doing so. Still, you didn’t say rookie PG, just how many rookies.

        • Mar 21, 20126:48 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Yeah. And I meant rookie not rookie PG. I did forget about Faried. he looks legitimately decent now. Although a tier below the two I mentioned. But my point was that by and large, even good rookies just have potential. Only a select few actually perform at a high level off the bat. And those few aren’t necessarily the most successful long term anyway. But you are right, that is a good third example.

          • Mar 21, 20127:06 pm
            by oats

            Derrick Williams might also need to be in that group by the time the season is over, but this could also just be a hot streak he is on. If he gets more play time now that Jefferson is gone, Leonard could also be more than just potential. That said, I agree with your point, I just didn’t want Faried left out.

          • Mar 21, 20127:20 pm
            by tarsier

            No offense, but I am entertained by the whole “could be more than just potential.” So they have potential to be more than potential? I would argue so does Knight. But yeah, it seems we agree on the whole. I often make mistakes though, like my omission of the Manimal.

          • Mar 21, 20127:36 pm
            by oats

            Understood. I mean that I think if he was on a crappy team Leonard would have the play time to prove he is actually already good. With Jefferson and now Jackson in front of him and making a lot of money it is a little hard for him to get the minutes I think he deserves. Still, 7.6 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 23.9 minutes per game with a 16.35 PER suggests I might be underselling him some. That gives him 11.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per 36 minutes. He also has a 116 offensive rating and 101 defensive rating. In short, the kid is already a good role player, and I suspect he’d actually be a pretty good starter in a different situation.

    • Mar 21, 20125:54 pm
      by frankie d

      Reply

      stuckey is playing better because he doesn’t have the burden of playing the point full-time.  he can concentrate on his scoring, which is what he does best.
      it simply helps everyone – knight, the team – that he has point guard skills and can play the point at times during a game.
      people tend to overlook the fact that, imho, stuckey is one of the league’s best ballnandlers.  there are very few guys with better handles than stuckey.  that is invaluable, because knight has such a weak handle.  hopefully, it is something knight will work on.

      • Mar 21, 20127:07 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Ehhh, Stuckey has improved incrementally every season. And this year, he is incrementally better than last year. Enough small steps though, and he is finally looking pretty good. The latest small step could be a result of the positional shift. But since he has done it every other year as well without a similar shift, I see no reason to attribute it to that. As someone who likes to proclaim his love of facts and ability to put together a logical, legal-style argument, what is your rationale for saying it was the positional shift that has helped Stuckey?

        • Mar 21, 20127:31 pm
          by frankie d

          Reply

          if you can’t see that stuckey has always been better off the ball i aint about to try to convince you.
          imho, he’s always been at his best when he can simply focus on getting his own points.  he’s doing that primarily this year.
          the old “is stuckey a point guard” argument is so freaking old, it’s boring.  this year answers the question pretty conclusively and if you can’t see that now, you’ll never believe it.

          • Mar 21, 20127:42 pm
            by tarsier

            Stuckey is playing like a typical combo guard. He is often the primary ball handler. He is often not. But I am decidedly unimpressed by your decision to go with the whole, “if you don’t agree with me, I can’t be bothered to give you any evidence” argument. I mean, it is totally your prerogative and all. But weren’t you just about a day ago complaining about people who don’t have facts just ending the conversation?

          • Mar 21, 20127:58 pm
            by oats

            Hate to jump in, but I’d argue Stuckey is better off alternating between playing the point and shooting guard for stretches. That’s what he did behind Billups, and that is what he is doing now. Besides, Stuckey’s annual improvement isn’t much better than when he was playing the point, so I don’t know why I should assume he wouldn’t be the same caliber of player if he was playing that position.
             
            His improvement seems to come from two things: he is hitting more 3s and he is getting to the line more. His improved 3 point shooting probably comes from the fact that he is shooting the 3 better. I know that seems like a stupid thing to say, but the point is that there is no reason to assume it has anything to do with his position change. He is also getting to the line more, but I don’t know how much of that is because of his position change either. Driving to the hoop and trying to get contact was always a major part of his game, and I’m not convinced he is really doing it all that much more frequently. It seems he is just getting the benefit of calls more frequently than last year. Maybe if he stayed at point he has a slight dip in FTA, but keeps his assist numbers up. Does that really change his value as a player? I’d say no, that playing shooting guard doesn’t make him a better player. What playing shooting guard does do is make his limited passing ability easier to swallow for fans.
             
            By the way, the answer to “Is Stuckey a point guard,” seems to be that it is better for the team if he is playing like a combo guard. That isn’t the same as Stuckey is better at shooting guard than point guard, It’s a bit strange to argue he has to be a shooting guard considering how often he handles point guard duties for this team. I mean, his point guard stats are actually quite a bit better than Knight’s. More assists, fewer turnovers, higher assist %, lower turnover %. So how exactly is playing shooting guard helping Stuckey, if that is even what he is doing?

          • Mar 21, 20128:04 pm
            by frankie d

            whatever…
            i do this for fun.  the only people who can tell me what to write are folks who are paying me bucks.

          • Mar 21, 20128:17 pm
            by tarsier

            I did say it was your prerogative. Just pointing out the hypocrisy is all.

          • Mar 22, 20121:14 am
            by frankie d

            hypocrisy?
            check Websters.   i may be guilty of certain things, but hypocrisy is not one of them. 
            i think this is hilarious.
            i get criticized by the proprietor of the website because i will respond in a detailed fashion when anyone challenges what i’ve posted.
            now, specific posters object to the fact that i refuse to respond in a detailed fashion to the ideas they argue on behalf of.
            ….whatever.
            this is exactly what i noted when i mentioned that others would try to hold me to very specific standards and that i often simply responded to those entreaties.
            this is a great example of exactly what i was talking about.
            i’m going to restrain myself and not get into a detailed response – complete with citations and links – but i just want everyone to see exactly what i was referring to when i talked about others trying to hold me to standards they might no necessarily uphold. 
            have a good nioght.
            and if lawrence frank was a better coach, detroit would have won tonight.

          • Mar 22, 20125:19 pm
            by Max

            The question isn’t what is best for Stuckey but rather what is best for the team.  Stuckey is practically the definition of a combo guard so the truth is that the Pistons are better off playing him wherever he is most complimentary to the rest of the cast. If they had not drafted Knight, he would be best off at PG.  Since they drafted Knight, he is best off at SG.  If he was on Sacramento instead of Tyreke Evans, he’d have to play a lot of small forward to compliment their personal.  Pretty simple.

  • Mar 21, 20125:40 pm
    by vic

    Reply

    I didn’t expect them to fit this well together either. I think what happened is that they ended up rubbing off the better parts of their games on each other.
    Stuckey picked up Knights 3 pointer… Knight picked up Stuckeys drive & fastbreak game. They are kind of like the same player now, just different sizes.

    Scott Machado would bring a pass first pg to the lineup and another fastbreak threat that would give the Pistons another legendary 3 guard lineup (imo).

  • Mar 21, 20126:18 pm
    by Jack

    Reply

    JJ Hickson has been claimed by the blazers

    • Mar 21, 20127:13 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Where did you see that? I’m still waiting for news on how the Hickson situation will pan out.

  • Mar 21, 20126:26 pm
    by Mark

    Reply

    Love the Stuckey/Knight combo.

    There isnt any downside, except maybe the age difference, but Stucky’s got a lot of miles left. Virtually no playoff miles, and these last 3 yrs were almost not even applicable.

    • Mar 21, 20126:51 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      The age difference isn’t enough to matter for quite a while. Stuckey should have 6-8 more years before he starts trending down.

  • Mar 21, 20127:33 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    wow.  detroit passed on him.  portland got a  talented young  player for zip.  nice aggressive move.

  • Mar 21, 20129:46 pm
    by rick77

    Reply

    Im in unison on this considering the last I looked at the game it was 18-40 in Denvers favor. I will be patient but damn Pistons Management! This goes out to you to Mr Gores.

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