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Archive → April, 2012

Vernon Macklin in, Ben Wallace out against Pacers

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: April 23, 2012
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

  • Pistons: 24-40
  • Pacers: 41-23

Probable starters

Pistons:

Pacers:

  • A.J. Price
  • Dahntay Jones
  • Paul George
  • David West
  • Jeff Pendergraph

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +7.5

Over/under: 190

Score: Pacers win, 98.75-91.25

Read about the Pacers

Eight points, Nine seconds (game preview)

Vernon Macklin active

Mark Champion:

Ben Wallace inactive. Macklin to play

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix picks Greg Monroe as his most improved player

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

Detroit’s Monroe has led his team in scoring and rebounding 16 times this season; the five guys who have done that more are All-Stars. He’s an offensive rebounding machine whose scoring has jumped by 6.1 points since last season. Pekovic was a human foul in his first season before emerging as a steady player this year. Anderson, the new prototype “stretch four,” made the most of his contract season.

I’m really happy to see this. There are plenty of good candidates for this award, and Monroe is one of them. But I really don’t want to see a repeat of last year when media/award voters paid no attention to Detroit and completely missed on Monroe in all of the rookie awards voting.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Bradley Beal

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, freshman guard from Florida
  • Key Stats: 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals per game, 45 percent shooting, 34 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Top five
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

The Pistons are a longshot to pick in the top five of this year’s draft, but that rightly hasn’t stopped fans from playing out ‘what-if’ scenarios with guys like Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Andre Drummond landing on the Pistons in their heads. One consensus top five guy who Pistons fans haven’t talked much about, thought, is Beal, simply because as a shooting guard, he plays a position where the Pistons seem to have some depth.

But, to repeat a question I asked in the Jeremy Lamb profile, what if the Pistons are in a position to draft and Beal is the best player on the board? Do you reach for a more limited big or do you just take the best player, in this unlikely scenario Beal, and figure out what to do with Brandon Knight or Rodney Stuckey later? Stuckey had a really good second half of the season before falling off a bit late. Knight had a rookie season that was rough around the edges, but still one that I’d describe as having more ups than downs and he obviously has some impressive physical abilities that he’s yet to fully figure out how to unleash yet. I like both players and I assume the Pistons do too, but that doesn’t mean they should necessarily consider themselves set at either guard spot. Beal has the potential to be a really special shooting guard.

Pros for the Pistons

Interestingly, there are parts of Beal’s game that remind me some of Stuckey. Beal, as just a freshman, is already built like a tank, similar to how Stuckey came into the league. Knight came in after his freshman season clearly needing to get stronger in his upper body, but Beal will have no such adjustments to make. Like Stuckey, he’s also a pretty good rebounder for a guard. Offensively, he’s probably more advanced at his age than Stuckey was at a comparable age because Beal can not only penetrate and finish, he has range out to the 3-point line. Stuckey’s jumper, as we all know, has been a work in progress much of his career, and this is really the first season where he’s shown he’s comfortable taking the 3-pointer that teams always give him.

If the Pistons ended up with Beal, it could also be the second straight year they end up with one of the draft’s youngest players. Beal doesn’t turn 19 until the day of this year’s draft. As we saw with Knight, giving a 19-year-old a big role off the bat can lead to some erratic play, but at the same time, it would be pretty cool for any team to be able to say they have two dynamic guards who aren’t even 21 yet.

The obvious issue is that taking a player like Beal would mean the Pistons have to figure out what to do with their guard rotation. The good news, if he’s amenable to it, is that Stuckey can be effective at either guard spot. The Pistons have a player in Ben Gordon who may or may not be a part of their long-term future. If they find a way to rid themselves of his contract, they could shift Stuckey to the third guard role, give him all of the backup minutes at both spots and although he may not be starting, he’d be getting plenty of time on the court and, until Knight and/or Beal develops, still be the best guard on the team. Stuckey off the bench would also be a nice tool for Lawrence Frank to have. As we saw this season, Frank gave young building blocks Knight and Greg Monroe a lot of leeway, but occasionally if their energy/defense/focus dropped too much, he didn’t hesitate to bench them. With Stuckey pushing both young guards, Frank would have a capable veteran on his bench who would gladly take their minutes and play productively at either spot.

Cons for the Pistons

Jumping up in the draft is great and all, and landing a player with Beal’s upside would definitely benefit the Pistons, but for the second straight draft, it would mean they neglected the roster’s most glaring weakness, the frontcourt. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing — I’m a big supporter of the best player available regardless of position philosophy in most cases. But because of their cap situation (they won’t have cap room even if they amnesty a big contract) and because their big money veterans aren’t exactly highly sought after trade commodities right now, the draft is the best route to land an impact big. Unfortunately, it also relies on who teams in front of them take. Big men are needed on just about every team, so the Pistons could find themselves in a spot where the best bigs are all gone.

As for Beal’s weaknesses, he’s kind of similar to Knight last year. Like Knight, Beal was a highly prized high school recruit. Like Knight, he had an inconsistent freshman season. Like Knight, his draft stock is based much more on tantalizing potential rather than proven effectiveness at the college level. I’m not saying any of those things should make the Pistons not consider Beal, but with a player on the roster in Knight who is already similar developmentally, adding another player who needs a lot of minutes and a lot of freedom to overcome mistakes probably wouldn’t be the optimum goal they’d have coming out of this draft.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The only real concern scouts have about Beal is his depressed shooting numbers from this season. Billed as a lights out, Ray Allen-type shooter coming out of his school, Beal shot just 34 percent from 3 this season. Some scouts attribute that to Beal playing out of position all season and never really getting much in the way of spot up 3s. Others believe it’s a fluke. However, if Beal isn’t as good of a shooter as he’s been billed, his value in the league will go down.

DraftExpress:

Beal is generally a good decision maker, showing excellent maturity making the extra pass to an open shooter on the perimeter or feeding his big men inside the post, never looking rushed or flustered, which is impressive considering his age and lack of experience. He’s obviously earned the trust of his coaching staff, as he leads the team in minutes played, despite being surrounded by a host of guards who are significantly older than him.

NBADraft.net:

Beal is a solid prospect with good ability on offense … His jump shot is outstanding, his ability to score off the bounce from mid-range is also great, he’s got a pretty good body for a young SG, and he’s a strong defender too … He’s not a tremendous athlete or ball-handler though, and thus struggles some as a finisher and slasher, but he does have great upside as an off-ball scorer at the SG spot.

ESPN.com:

Brandon, the pleaser and eldest child, starred at both of his parents’ sports. Good enough to score 1,000 points on the basketball court, he also caught a team-best 34 passes from his tight end position in high school.

What is the best thing Bradley Beal does for his team?

Matt Watts (follow him on Twitter) is the sports editor for The Independent Florida Alligator, Florida’s student newspaper:

Quite simply: Everything. The maturity and talent of Brad Beal at 18 years old is seriously uncanny. As a freshman at Florida, he started all 37 games while leading the team in minutes played and finishing second in scoring (14.8 ppg). At 6-foot-4, Beal was even the Gators best rebounder on a team that includes 6-foot-9 center Patric Young, who scouts have pegged as a lottery pick since his junior year of high school. He can do it all, and he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him. From creating his own shot, finishing at the rim or defending the opposition’s best player, Beal is up to the task. While some mention Beal and Ray Allen in the same breath, Beal will have to seriously improve his outside shot at the next level to invoke comparisons to the perennial 20-point scorer. He shot just less than 34 percent from beyond the arc on 186 attempts in his only season as a Gator. However, if there’s one true similarity between the two other than the tangible attributes it’s killer instinct. During the Gators’ tournament run that fell one game shy of the Final Four, Beal averaged 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists on 53 percent shooting including 46 percent from long range.

Previously

Kyle Singler reportedly wants to join NBA next season

HoopsHype linked a TuBasket.com article with this translation:

Kyle Singler wants to leave for the NBA next season.

Jonas Jerebko guarantees Pistons will make playoffs next year

Jonas Jerebko, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

"We’re going to the playoffs next year. We know what it takes. You can’t start off a season 4-20 and bounce back."

He was asked if he was guaranteeing anything, seeing as how former Piston Rasheed Wallace made headlines years ago with his famous boasts.

"Yes, sir," said Jerebko with a smile. "We’re a playoff team, with playoff-caliber players."

I don’t know whether Jerebko will be right, but the Pistons have a reasonable shot of making the playoffs next season – especially if their players prepare as though it’s an expectation.

Pistons edge Raptors, cripple chance to improve lottery odds

As the Pistons and Raptors struggled during the first quarter, I thought to myself, “This is like a preseason game.” Minutes later, one of the Raptors broadcasters described the game as having a “summer-league flow.”

Sadly, that was probably more apt.

I don’t know why the Pistons played so poorly in their 76-73 win over the Raptors – a game in which the Pistons shot 36.6 percent on all field goals, 13.3 percent on 3-pointers and 62.9 percent on free throws. It’s important to remember that they’re a bad team, and bad teams are prone to playing badly.

Did tanking play a part? I don’t think so. The Pistons de-activated Vernon Macklin, a young player who could use more NBA minutes, and Lawrence Frank really stuck with his reliable veterans.

Were the Raptors that good? No.

I don’t know whether this is relevant, but I keep going back to a recap I wrote after the Allen Iverson season:

Michael Curry made me feel stupid (which proves I’m not another NBA coach).

“I think Joe (Dumars) was madder than anybody else about us losing all those Sunday games, and usually that has something to do with what you were doing Saturday night,” Curry told the Detroit Free Press after the season.

I never made anything of the Pistons’ 4-12 record in Sunday games last year. It just seemed like coincidence.

Then Curry dropped the bomb, and it all made so much sense.

I felt duped. The team had quit, and I should’ve known better.

Most Valuable Player

DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan had 16 points, three assists and an impressive fastbreak block through three quarters. So, of course the tanking Ratpors benched him for the fourth quarter.

Defining moment

Greg Monroe blatantly goaltended an Alan Anderson shot with 22 seconds left and the Pistons up one – though the refs missed the violation. The difference? The game and several lottery combinations.

X-Factor

Brandon Knight and Ben Gordon, who scored 19 points each, playing well together. Earlier in the season, those two sharing a backcourt turned Detroit into Turnover City.

Vernon Macklin inactive against the tank-tastic Raptors

Essentials

  • Teams: Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons
  • Date: April 22, 2012
  • Time: 6 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

  • Pistons: 23-40
  • Raptors: 22-41

Probable starters

Pistons:

Raptors:

  • Ben Uzoh
  • Alan Anderson
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Amir Johnson
  • Aaron Gray

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons -4

Over/under: 187

Score: Pistons win, 95.5-91.5

Read about the Raptors

Raptors Republic (game preview)

Vernon Macklin inactive

David Mayo of MLive:

Ben Wallace is active and Vernon Macklin inactive for the Pistons.

Pistons ratchet up expectations for Brandon Knight even further

Pistons.com writer Keith Langlois:

He’s got real basketball smarts and a competitive streak a mile wide that, I feel strongly, will enable Knight to squeeze everything out of his impressive array of physical gifts.

Pistons play-by-play man George Blaha:

Then you go to rookie point guard Brandon Knight, who has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that he’s going to be a standout point guard in our league for years to come.

I’ll echo Patrick in wishing the Pistons allowed Brandon Knight’s actual production to catch up with his hype.

Dee Brown learned how to coach by teaching his daughter

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press has a cool story about Pistons assistant coach Dee Brown:

Brown uses those same techniques in working with the Pistons’ backcourt. One drill has the player cradling a ball in the dominant arm while shooting and dribbling with the off arm to develop the weaker hand.

"She’s my first one that I really trained," Brown said. "The stuff I do with (Walker Russell), (Rodney Stuckey), (Brandon Knight), I’ve been doing with her for seven years."

Ben Wallace, who wore his shorts backward in his first NBA game, on retiring: ‘Who knows? Everything’s open.’

Jo-Ann Barnas of the Detroit Free Press wrote a fantastic feature on Ben Wallace that’s an absolute must-read. My favorite detail: Wallace wore his shorts backward during his first NBA game.

The article – which, again, is a must-read – also shows Wallace might not be totally set on retiring after the season. Wallace:

"Who knows?" he says with a shrug. "Everything’s open."

"When I do retire, I don’t look at it as a big celebration, riding off in the sunset smiling with dancing and music playing in the background," he said. "To me, it’s not that. Retirement, to me, is depressing. Depressing. It’s one of those things where it’s not something you want to do; nobody wants to retire from basketball. You want to play basketball forever.

"Retirement is admitting to yourself and everybody else that, ‘I can’t do this job anymore.’ For me, that’s not a celebration. It’s the end of something great, giving up something I’ve been doing all my life, something I’ve been striving for, trying to be the best at. And now you got to say, ‘I’m no longer that?’

Tayshaun Prince:

"If he decides to retire at the end of the year, I don’t know if he’s 100% leaning that way now or not."

Joe Dumars:

Asked this past week about Wallace’s future, Dumars told the Free Press via e-mail that the organization plans to "sit down with Ben after the season and discuss his plans."

My guess: Wallace will still retire as planned. But I definitely hope I’m wrong.

Remember, read Barnas’ article.