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Brandon Knight takes his turn to sit in crunch time due to lazy defense

Last night, Greg Monroe played sloppy defense. A hard-working veteran behind him on the depth chart just so happened to have another near-vintage game in him, so Monroe sat as penance for a feeble effort in favor of Ben Wallace, playing just 20 minutes despite shooting the ball well.

Tonight, swap Monroe for Brandon Knight and Wallace for Will Bynum and you had the exact same scenario in Detroit’s road loss to Atlanta.

Knight played matador defense against Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who got in the lane at will, finishing with 24 points, 11 assists and just two turnovers. Teague is certainly a tough cover due to his quickness. Knight has exhibited a lot of speed when he’s moving up and down the court all season, but he occasionally looks a bit slower when he has to move his feet side to side. Tonight was one of those ‘slow’ nights. A few of Teague’s layups were simply blow-bys, where Knight couldn’t even manage to get some contact on Teague before he was already on his way to the rim. By the midway point of the third quarter, shortly after another Teague layup, Lawrence Frank pulled Knight.

In both last night’s game with Monroe and tonight’s game with Knight, I’m not sure whether Frank subbed them out of those respective games intending to never put them back on the floor. In both cases, he had the option of veterans playing extremely well. Tonight, it was Bynum. He finished with 15 points, four rebounds, an assist and two steals. He was far from a defensive stopper, but he at least put more pressure on the ball against Teague than Knight was able to. He also came away with one of his trademark, jaw-dropping plays, hustling back on defense, going straight up and blocking a close-range shot attempt by Hawks Center Zaza Pachulia, who is at least a foot taller than Bynum.

When I was watching and writing about Wallace’s performance last night, the thought that we really only have a couple weeks left to appreciate what Wallace has meant to this franchise was never far from my mind. Bynum certainly has nowhere near the level of accomplishments Wallace has, but I’m having similar reflective feelings about him. The other day, Ben Gulker of Detroit Bad Boys wrote this:

I want Will Bynum to be MFWB again (that’s Marvelously Fantastic Will Bynum for the uninitiated).

Really, sincerely, I do. But he ain’t. Or at least, he hasn’t been. Yes, there have been some flashes and some nasty highlights. But overall, I can’t shake the feeling his time in Detroit is coming to an end.

Now, from a logical standpoint, I understand this. Bynum has always wanted a bigger role than he was able to play in Detroit. When he’s had consistent minutes, he’s been productive. With Knight and Rodney Stuckey essentially sharing most of the minutes at point guard between them, Bynum will never get the role he covets here. Plus, the skillset he brings to the table is too similar to how Knight and Stuckey already play. The Pistons could really use a backup guard who is a traditional distributor and who can be a spot-up shooter. Both parties would probably be best served by amicably parting ways. I get it.

It’s still a little sad, though, because I’ve become pretty attached to Bynum over the years. We all know the last four seasons of Pistons basketball have been difficult to watch. For me, (other than Monroe, of course) the biggest bright spot and most watchable player of that overall forgettable span has been Bynum. It has been pretty simple why. We’ve seen over those four years quite the collection of selfishness, incompetence and hideously ugly basketball by just about anyone who has anything to do with the on-court product (players, coaches, execs, everyone). Bynum, on the other hand, has not only provided more than his share of dynamic plays, he was always a guy whose passion, whose effort you couldn’t really question. He was always the guy at the short end of the stick when divvying out guard minutes and it was never for legitimate reasons. He out-worked any guard the Pistons had on the roster in front of him, whether it was established stars like Allen Iverson or Rip Hamilton, whether it was a prodigy young player like Stuckey or whether it was a pricey free agent like Ben Gordon. He played the least because the Pistons had the least invested in him. It wasn’t fair to him, but he was as professional as it got. He clearly wanted to play more, he clearly didn’t like sitting on the bench, but he never joined in the public grousing that other players who were unhappy (and less justifiably unhappy, I might add, compared to Bynum’s situation) with their roles partook in.

I don’t know whether Bynum will be a Piston next season again or not, but I was happy to see him get at least one more trademark Bynum performance. It was fitting that it came mostly with Stuckey on the court, too. I remember during the craziness of Iverson’s Pistons season, a few times because of the alternating injuries/pouting of Iverson and Hamilton, Michael Curry was forced to roll with a Bynum-Stuckey backcourt. I remember them being a lot of fun to watch, too. They seemed to have good chemistry with each other and both guys loved to push the ball and attack the basket. Both clearly put a lot of pressure on a defense. But in the John Kuester era, we didn’t see that lineup much simply because the Pistons had too much money invested in shooting guards to get Stuckey many minutes at the SG spot while Bynum played the point. They had a big impact on tonight’s game. When they were on the court together, the Pistons were +17 on Atlanta.

Like last night with Monroe and Wallace, Knight getting benched in favor of Bynum isn’t something I’m hoping becomes the norm as the season winds down, but I’m OK with it as a one-time thing. Knight played poorly on defense and a veteran behind him stepped in and played with the aggression and energy the Pistons want to see in Knight at all times. Hopefully, it just serves as a not so subtle reminder to Knight that minutes aren’t a given. And hopefully, it served as a nice audition for Bynum that helps interest a team in need of a change of pace guard it can give consistent minutes to next season.

Oh, and Stuckey is really good

I owe Stuckey a few thousand words about the immense leap forward he’s taken as a player and a leader this season. Trust me, that will be coming up. But for tonight, he scored 27 points off the bench, once again made putting Gordon on the court unnecessary (we all owe him a thank you for that) and he, Bynum, Damien Wilkins, Wallace and Jonas Jerebko formed a much more active, competitive and entertaining bunch to watch than a first unit that might have been run off the floor tonight if the Pistons didn’t have that lively bench crew stepping in. Oh, and speaking of starters, I know that +/- is not a tell-all stat, but Tayshaun Prince was a -30 tonight. Wow.

Monroe doesn’t respond

You know that part above where I mentioned that I hope Knight takes the hint of getting benched for lousy defense and plays better next time around? Basically, I could’ve just wrote, “Don’t respond how Monroe did tonight.” I didn’t expect Monroe to dominate offensively. The Hawks have a great defensively player/shot blocker in their frontcourt in Josh Smith and Monroe tends to have trouble getting his shots off against players like that. But as was noted a few times by commenters, he had another poor defensive game. He occasionally doesn’t move his feet well defensively facing up against bigs like Smith, he occasionally doesn’t react quickly enough to help on dribble penetration and he occasionally gets bullied into giving up position under the basket to bruising big men. Tonight, all those things happened in the same game. Knight was certainly guilty of not giving enough resistance to Teague, but Monroe was also late getting over to contest on some of Teague’s drives. Smith scored 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting against basically anyone the Pistons through at him and Ivan Johnson came off the bench to smash his way to the basket and shoot 8-for-12. Plenty of defensive blame to go around in this one, it’s not all on Monroe and Knight, but as potential cornerstone players the team is depending on down the road, both guys need to make significant strides on defense in the offseason. This was a bad one to watch.

26 Comments

  • Apr 6, 201211:37 pm
    by Daye and Knight

    Reply

    Damn…Tay was -30? I knew he was bad but that’s awful! Prince has a few nights where he contributes but overall I would like to find a long term solution in his place in the draft if we can’t find a big man. If Barnes falls to us we almost HAVE to take him if Davis, Drummond and Robinson are off the board..or ake Henson and try out LeBryan Nash in the second round if he declares. Also, like most people on here, I would love to see what V-Mac can do paired up next to Monroe. At least that way we can know how bad we need a big man once the season is over.

    • Apr 7, 20122:43 am
      by sebastian

      Reply

      Knight and Daye, the best player who will be available when WE draft (projected to be from #8 – #10) who can relieve Tay of his starters minutes is Perry Jones III.

      PJIII has the size and skills to be a very good pro player at the SF position. PJIII can score from multiple positions on the floor. He has terrific handle. Runs the court well. Can pass out of double teams and can find the open man when available. He should be able to guard the opposing teams’ SF, a PJIII has the length to disrupt and block shots. Also, can make things tough in passing lanes, as he has a 7’2″ wing span.
      PJIII is no Austin Daye or Tay. He’s not a thin man, but a well proportioned 6’11″ player.
      The addition of PJIII would be a great addition to the rebuilding process of OUR Pistons.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

    • Apr 7, 20127:22 am
      by vic

      Reply

      I really wish we could trade Tay to a contender. 
      But as far as drafting – i think Jae Crowder will be the best SF in this draft, and we could get him in round 2. (Keep it quiet because we don’t want him to blowup and we lose him like Biyombo last year). But I think he will be even better than MKG and Barnes. PJ3 has potential, but Jae Crowder is a more sure thing. Crowder is better than Daye, Singler, Wilkins too. Hopefully the future of the 3 position in Detroit is Crowder and Jerebko splitting minutes.

  • Apr 7, 201212:53 am
    by jayg108

    Reply

    I live in a bizarre dreamworld where I wanted the Pistons to finish .500, but they needed to win that game to do that.  I know, tall order.   It would have been nice to win that one since there are a few tough games coming up in Florida.  They have to beat the Bucks at home.
     
    I’m still hoping they make the playoffs.  It could happen if the Knicks and Bucks lose a bunch.  How cool would it be for Big Ben to get another playoff game before retiring!

    • Apr 7, 20121:07 am
      by jayg108

      Reply

      Hollinger’s playoff odds for the Pistons are 0%.  I wonder if that means their knocked out already.

      • Apr 7, 20127:33 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        They’re not yet. It would not be impossible for the Pistons to make it, but entirely implausible.

  • Apr 7, 201212:20 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    tay was horrible last night also.  one of the problems with frank’s lough love benchings is that they are applied in such an odd way.
    how many times has tay moped through a 4-12, while he’s been burned on d?  he has a horrible defensive rating, one of the worst on the team.
    last night, he played matador defense and repeatedly simply allowed atlanta players to waltz to the rim.
    he does this all of te time.
    yet, while frank sits monroe for such offenses, and he sat knight for such offenses, tay simply goes out game after game and does the same stuff over and over again.
    wilkins does the same thing.  while wilkins always puts forth an effort – which is something tay does not – wilkins is often torched, yet he gets sent out game after game to be torched again.
    it’s all well and good to take a tough guy approach to your players and bench them in order to send messages.  
    it would be even more effective if that tough love was applied in an even and fair manner, if every player, including the pet players of the coach and GM were treated the same.

    • Apr 8, 20122:42 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      You might notice that Prince routinely gets the toughest overall assignment while Monroe is frequently given the easiest possible defensive matchup.  There are just about zero players in the league who can stay in front of everyone.  Prince’s man wouldn’t score nearly as often if the defensive rotations from the bigs was even average,

  • Apr 7, 20121:43 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    excellent points about bynum. 
    i always wondered what joe was thinking when he signed gordon, after he’d hit the jackpot, imho, with bynum.
    in bynum, he’d found  a great bench scorer, a guy who could change games with his explosiveness, and he’d gotten him dirt cheap, also.
    he had his starter in rip, he had an excellent backup bench scorer, and then he spends most of his cap money on a guy who basically duplicates what those two guys bring.  yeah, gordon had more range, but otherwise, gordon brought nothing new  to the table. 
    and bynum was destined to be shoved aside.  which is exactly what has happened.
    it is a darn shame that his years here have essentially been wasted, as we’ll never really know how effective he could have been if he’d been allowed to play the role he originally signed on to do.   of all of the players who’ve been mishandled over the last few years, because of joe’s screwy signings and trades, imho, bynum has been handled the worst.

    • Apr 7, 201211:51 pm
      by CNA5

      Reply

      1.  Bynum is nothing but a bit player.  He might be a backup scoring point guard on a good team.  10-15 minutes is really his best suited role.  At the end of the day, he’s still a under 6′ tall point guard who isn’t special.

      He was one hell of a find by Joe D.  But, he’s still only a role player.  When building, you need to find your core first- and Bynum is simply not that.

      Don’t obsess over Bynum.  In most cases, a PG that short is a liability if you play them as more than a bit player.  If Will wants out and finds someplace where he can get minutes, I hope Joe D accommodates him.

      2.  Prince is fine.  You can’t just cherry pick a number and say Prince isn’t a good defender right now.  This drives me nuts from fans.

      Last time I checked, this isn’t a 1v1 league.  It’s 5v5.  The Pistons have no shot blocking presence, two young players who are behind the curve defensively (Knight and Monroe), and their one ‘athletic’ starting big isn’t exactly the most cerebral player in the world.

      Let me give you an example of how a player’s defensive rating can tank without being the one making the mistake.

      On a SF/PF pick and roll scenario from the wing, they start with the SF going toward the corner to attack the basket from the side.  One a pick and roll, there really are only 4 things you can do:

      1.  Go under to clog the lane, giving an open jumper to either the big or the SF.
      2.  Trap the pick and roll hoping to make them reverse the long way around.
      3.  Switch.
      4.  Go over and cover your man, hoping you have help in the lane.

      If you play it safe with 1, you’re going to give up points if the other player makes his shots.  In a league filled with scoring 3s, his rating is not going to be good.

      For case 2, the SF and PF would have to trap the SF hard at the same time.  If either are late or early, it’s a quick dump for a dunk.  Or, if help doesn’t rotate to clog the lane, it’s a dunk.  Either way, it’s going to be ugly.

      For case 3, it’s often a mismatch.  Every so often you have players who can switch and cover anyone- like Dennis Rodman, LeBron James, or Josh Smith.  Guys with length, strength, and quickness to cover almost anyone for a short period of time.  For everyone else, this usually means a size or quickness mismatch.

      For case 4, you challenge the jumper and hope the center fills the lane to challenge any drives.

      There are too many weak links defensively on this team- period.  Some can get better, like Knight and Monroe.  Both are young and learning the game.  A zone in particular might help Monroe out a lot, but Frank couldn’t install one in the shortened training camp.

      In the case of Knight, he’s still growing into his frame.  

      My biggest worry with re-signing Prince didn’t have anything to do with his play.  It had everything to do with whether or not he could live with the mistakes of young guys like Monroe, Knight, Daye, and Jerebko.  Would we see the constant death stares?  Or would we see some coaching on the floor?

      You can’t hide the whole team defensively.  They’ve improved, but there clearly is more need for improvement within and in getting help.

      Defensive rating and offensive ratings often speak more to the team than the individual.  Remember, Prince’s best defensive ratings came when Wallace x2 were patrolling the paint. I would wager a large sum of money that if Tayshaun Prince had Dwight Howard and Josh Smith filling the lane instead of Monroe and Maxiell, he’d be under 100.

      With all that being said, Prince is neither the stopper nor the sieve fans line up.  He’s a starting caliber small forward that is proficient in many facets of the game.  He won’t raise the level of his teammates, but he’s not going to bring them down either.

      3.  Gordon is a complete oddity.  He looks nothing like the guy he did in Chicago.  At first I thought Kuester was to blame in his use, but I’m starting to place that more on Gordon himself.  This guy was the textbook definition of instant offense.

      I’ve never seen him pass up so many good looks.  Like Frank has said- he runs the majority of plays for Gordon off the bench while he’s in there.  I don’t know if it’s bad chemistry or a lack of confidence or maybe he’s lost a step.  It’s really hard to comprehend how a guy that rung up 30 or more points 13 times in his last year in Chicago and nearly destroyed the Boston Celtics in the playoffs turn into the player we see today.

      At the WORST case scenario signing him, we would have expected to see 20 ppg scoring averages with fairly little contributions outside scoring.  I’ve watched game after game trying to understand why he’s struggled offensively.  He touches the ball most possessions with chances to score.  He has plays run to get him jumpers from the corner or the wing.  He’s even been given iso plays on a clear out.  It’s just bizarre how a serial scorer has lost his mojo at age 29 without a major injury.

      • Apr 8, 20122:17 pm
        by rick77

        Reply

        Thanks for the breakdown. I’m happy someone else understands the game is 5 on 5 instead of 1 on 1.

      • Apr 8, 20123:48 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Marv Albert “Yes!” @CNA5.

      • Apr 9, 201211:23 am
        by apa8ren9

        Reply

        excellent analysis!

  • Apr 7, 20122:14 pm
    by rick77

    Reply

    Shutup and just go apply for the job already. Yes Im going ad hominem because half of it(reasons) dont deserve an explanation. You are mad for no reason other than to be mad. Joe this Joe that blah blah blah blah blah for no other reason than to hear yourself talk. Like I said before, I like you dude, but when is enough enough? You are worse than Drew Sharp and he works for the Freep as an excuse. Your level of understanding how a professional organization works is in the words of Tayshaun Prince” Buffoonery”. Tay has played well over 600 games and all you do is hate on him. Are you a Piston fan or a Piston hater? Seriously I would like to know who would be better served at the three than what we have now? How much effort do you know that Tay puts in? Sure is funny when he has a good game I never see your a$$ with any snarky comments. I want you to find me a player that has bought it every game this year and then maybe I can agree with what you are saying. Your argumnent falls on deaf ears when you conveniently appear when the situation fits your agenda and not when the serving sample doesn’t. The Pistons are who they are no matter how much you try and stress that $hit about coaches having pet players and such. You sound very butthurt over nothing. Are You really here trying to prove a point by saying Joe/Frank screwed up cause he does not play Wil Bynum, and if thats your word then you absolutely dont have a clue. Too much going on with the team the last few years for anyone to have a set anything in Detroit but according to you this is just another Joe d screw up. Dude got signed as a stop gap period point blank. Im done ranting/talking to you because ultimately youre gonna take it and spin it your way rather than see the craziness in what you say.

    • Apr 7, 20123:21 pm
      by frankie d

      Reply

      gee …i guess a 3 year, 3.5 million dollar contract is probably the longest stopgap” in league history.

      • Apr 8, 20123:05 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        Most teams carry three point guards.   I don’t care if Bynum’s contract was for 6 years because I’m confident he can be a good third PG for years to come.   I don’t know how anyone musters any negativity about a player’s contract who is signed to 3.5 million a year.   Did the Pistons use their midlevel exception this year?  No.  Could the midlevel exception have been used to sign a player who made more than 3.5 million?  Yes.   Therefore, did signing Will Bynum to his contract 3 years ago impact the Pistons adversely this year in any way?  No.  End of story.   Unless: would the Pistons have been able to sign a better player than they would have with the midlevel if they had been under the cap?  In my opinion, the notion is highly improbable  because  the Pistons can’t attract top free agents and the midlevel is the most they should ever  spend on one.   So in my view, I never, ever, want to see them get under the cap again.  I challenge anyone to name me the championship team that was predicated on the team first getting under the cap.  It has literally never happened.

    • Apr 8, 20122:44 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      @Rick77  Hell yeah!

  • Apr 7, 20122:21 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    i would say some really rude things to you, but it is not worth getting upset with you.
    your ignorance is on display for everyone to see and that is all that need be said.

  • Apr 7, 20124:08 pm
    by rick77

    Reply

    Say it, Im man enough to take it unlike you. I saw the other day when that guy took you out to the shed in your post and you could do nothing but come back and respectfully agree. Say what you say its a free country dont stop now you have said more than enough when you spoke for everyone else in the room. I dont need to hide behind everyone else when I dont agree with someone or because another does not agree me. More times than not guys in here are calling you out because of the insanity and sometimes absurdness in your post. I just say what I have to say and keep it moving. I dont know if you are smart or dumb but you sure do give indication to what side you lean towards in your assumptions. I think its funny someone can get under your skin for not agreeing with you. My point has been made because as soon as I posted you jumped on and came back with this silly retort about what you can or would do. Why say it if you cant make it happen. Better yet why threaten me because I dont share the same opinion? Thats what inferior people do they resort to name calling and such. Btw Ive been called worse and at the end of the day it didnt stop me from doing what I do. Intelligent-Genuine-Nice Openminded-Reasonable-Attentive-Nerd-Considerate-Energetic= ignorance, so yeah I can be at times. You sir, have a nice day man. Hopefully someone somewhere will give you a hug.

    • Apr 7, 20124:13 pm
      by frankie d

      Reply

      lol!
      do you know what projection is?
      i’d suggest that you do a little studying up on the subject….

  • Apr 7, 20125:35 pm
    by rick77

    Reply

    I got one for you go look up presumptuous and tell me it doesnt apply to you and your posts. How bout pretentious that may fit even better. No matter how much you think I am trying to make you look bad , you seem to do a damn good job by yourself.  If you took the time to actually think about it any of what was said when I described ignornace in my statement then you would know the above could apply to anyone of us at times. Its just that some people allow their emotions to get the best of them, and then they go on baseless and futile rants for no reason.

  • Apr 7, 20125:37 pm
    by rick77

    Reply

    Maybe we should get a radio show together and go back and forth. Would make for good ratings if nothing else. roflmao

  • Apr 8, 20124:00 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    @Frankie D……….Will Bynum’s health has had a lot to do with how his coach’s have “handled” him.  Also, it was surely not Dumars’ plan to draft Knight last year.  The intention had to be be to pick a big but he picked him because he couldn’t pass him up.   At the time of that pick, Bynum had proved to be too inconsistent from a health standpoint to spend a nanosecond considering whether he was going to get benched as a result.
    @Prince Haters who are Piston fans everywhere: I’m ashamed when I think we root for the same team and I don’t respect your basketball acumen whatsoever.   As far as I’m concerned, you might as well be Bulls fans in disguise who are mucking up the board.

  • Apr 8, 20127:30 pm
    by domnick

    Reply

    about brandon knight… maybe he hit his rookie wall… and monroe… maybe he needs add more beef in the offseason…

  • Apr 8, 20127:45 pm
    by Desolation Row

    Reply

    Damn. Ricky77 — chill out man. FrankieD can criticize Joe D if he wants. Who gives a $h*t? Joe D’s made some awful moves and is busting the team with his stubborn neglect of younger players in favor of Tayshaun “four-more-years” Prince. Pistons fans are so quick to defend Joe D unconditionally, but the guy’s laid more eggs than a golden goose the past three-four years. We all have the same interests at heart, and different perspectives give us a better understanding of what we’re seeing, which enhances our enjoyment of the games.

    Not everybody on here needs to drink the Kool-Aid.

    • Apr 8, 20129:54 pm
      by rick77

      Reply

      I guess you have not taken the time to read, but if you havent allow me to give you an update. Opinions are ok its a problem when it becomes redundant. I know Joe D has made mistakes hell it doesnt take Stevie Wonder to figure that out, but when you constantly bitch about the same damn thing and the season its almost over it gets a bit tiring. I am here for great debate , analysis, and updates my man not a bitch session or to be called ignorant/stupid/ or dumb because I dont agree with someones opinion. So before you call yourself coming in here co-signing at least be someone who has at least commented enough in our threads to even know what is going on. If someone disrespects you when you dont agree with them I am sure you would have a very different opinion than the one you have now. Im not drinking any kool aid at all just being myself and not an @$$hole who tries to get everyones attention when offering my opinion. I will even say that in our brief interaction here you did not become combatitive but rather you explained your position w/o disrespecting me. I can appreciate that type of response even if I do feel like you dont know all the story.

      Before I go I want you to know Im not being dismissive about Joe D and his performance. What I would like to say is how would you feel at your job if your performance was not what it was say 4 years ago and your peers were constantly busting your balls but your current employer(boss) liked you and had your back? How would you feel especially if you have a proven track record and have shown to be able to get the job down? Now at what point do those coworkers need to get over themselves at least untill your boss throws you out because your performance has not been up to par and how much more do others have to endure if its only one or two co-workers who are constantly complaining about the same thing? Get where im going with it? We all know whats going on with the team but I was under impression that this was a fan forum to discuss topics openly and not criticize the people who give us the analysis or the people who comment simply because they do not agree or share same opinion.

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