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Archive → April, 2012

Pistons lottery odds: April 20, 2012

See odds for all teams at Basketball Prospectus.

Lawrence Frank puts words in my mouth

Lawrence Frank, via (David Mayo of MLive):

“When you say you’re tanking, if you’re going to say by playing a different player on the bench is tanking,

Hey, I said that. Where are you going with this?

well, that’s a heck of an indictment on that player,” Frank said. “You’re saying that guy’s not worthy of being in the NBA, because that’s what you’re saying.

Wait. What?

I certainly didn’t say anything like that, and I think Frank knows that. When a team is truly trying to win games, some players deserve more minutes than others. That doesn’t mean the players less deserving of minutes don’t belong in the NBA. It just means they don’t deserve big NBA minutes. There’s a clear difference.

I believe Frank expects every player to play hard . I believe Frank expects every player to do his best to help the Pistons win. I believe Frank’s main goal, once he chooses the players to take the court, is guiding them to victory.

But Frank isn’t stupid.

He knows that a lineup that includes Vernon Macklin and Austin Daye is less likely to win than a lineup that includes Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. It’s a form of tanking, not the most egregious form, but a form nonetheless.

Pistons to participate in Orlando, not Las Vegas, summer league

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons will participate in the Orlando Magic summer league, a departure from previous seasons when they played in the Las Vegas edition. Frank prefers Orlando because there’s more of a focus on basketball since it’s closed to the public and it’s a quick five games in five days.

Translation: It’s cheaper.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Tu Holloway

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag


  • Measurables: 6-foot-0, 190 pounds, senior point guard from Xavier
  • Key Stats: 17.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.5 steals per game, 43 percent shooting, 35 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

Much like Iona’s Scott Machado, Holloway represents a possible find for a team looking for a backup point guard in the second round. Now, Holloway is not the shooter or passer Machado is and isn’t quite as big, but he’s been a tough playmaker who grew into a very good college player at Xavier. Depending on what the Pistons do with their backup guards in the offseason, they could be looking to add some depth at point guard in the second round, and Holloway would definitely be a player who could fit that bill if he’s around when they pick.

Pros for the Pistons

Holloway might be a little on the small side, but he’s extremely tough. He is unafraid to take contact and got to the line eight times per game over the last two seasons. Once at the line, he hits nearly 90 percent of his free throws.

If the Pistons move Will Bynum in a trade, Holloway could step in and fill in that trademark Bynum role of playing fast, with energy and attacking the basket and finishing against bigger players. Plus, he has a little more range on his jumper than Bynum and, at least collegiately, he was a better defensive player.

Cons for the Pistons

Holloway is a good passer, particularly on the move, but he’s not what anyone would call a pass-first point guard. He’s accustomed to looking for his own offense, and with two fast, athletic, shoot-first guards ahead of him in Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, Holloway’s skillset might duplicate what is already on the roster.

Plus, if Ben Gordon is still around next season, the Pistons’ backups would have the same problem they currently do: a Holloway-Gordon reserve combo is really small just like the Bynum-Gordon combo is. A player like Machado, for example, is both a little big bigger and is more of a pass-first, traditional point. I think that’s the type of player the Pistons would look for first if they do scour the market for a backup guard.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

  • High scoring combo guard
  • Super quick first step
  • Excellent penetrator and finisher
  • Good court vision, can play the point full time
  • Good defender


Defensively, Holloway has been excellent in man-to-man defense this season, showing great fundamentals and a high activity level. He gets right up into his man, moves his feet well, and does a good job using his hands to contest shots and make steals. His size is somewhat concerning projecting to the next level, and he will also be at a quickness disadvantage against elite guards, but his tools are solid enough here and he should be able to be an effective man defender if he continues showing the same commitment.


As Tu Holloway goes, so goes Xavier. This season’s been a rollercoaster ride for both. There’s no denying Holloway’s confidence or his scoring ability. With a solid jumper and knack for cutting to the hoop, he’s a threat to drop 20+ points every time he hits the floor. But his decision making and distribution skills have been shaky at times and he was also the lightening rod who essentially started the Xavier-Cinci brawl. Holloway is most likely a mid-to-late second round pick.

Banners on the Parkway:

Unwilling to follow the storyline of the talented headcase, Tu hit the gym between his freshman and sophomore years, putting up over 25,000 jumpshots.

What is the best thing Tu Holloway does for his team?

Brad D. (follow him on Twitter) writes about Xavier for Banners on the Parkway, SB Nation’s Xavier site:

The best thing Tu Holloway does for his team is win. Holloway’s teammates at Xavier referred to him as Mariano Rivera because of his penchant for last minute heroics. That stems from Tu’s absolute fearlessness in late game situations. Even when Xavier had Jordan Crawford, Tu had the ball at closing time. There is no shot he won’t take, and make, late in a game. Ask Purdue, Vandy, UC, Dayton (twice), or Seton Hall what he can do. Even in Tu’s last college game he scored seven points in 15 seconds to nearly bring X back against Baylor.

Tu couples that fearlessness with unbelievable determination. Stories of him hoisting 25,000+ shots during the offseason or shooting late into the night after games are common around campus. Tu may not have the most talent ever, but he will not be outworked.


Pistons resort to anti-tanking measures against Timberwolves, lose anyway

The Pistons didn’t tank tonight.

Whether you find it terrifying they could lose 91-80 to Minnesota or comforting they increased in their lottery odds, I really don’t believe the Pistons tanked tonight. Here’s what I wrote about the Pistons tanking during their 32-point loss to the Hawks the night before:

Here’s my guess – and it’s nothing more than that: Frank thought he could implement the coaching part of tanking (using suboptimal lineups) without the players exercising their part of tanking (not playing hard).

It didn’t work.

The players quit, and that’s why Frank was so terse after the game. Frank stuck his toes in the tanking pool against a playoff opponent rather than jumping in against another tanking team, Cleveland, the previous night. I don’t think he has the stomach for it, and I think the Pistons’ regular rotation players – plus Vernon Macklin – will play bigger minutes against the Timberwolves tonight.

Frank then went about proving his anti-tanking credentials and my prediction, starting by going out of his way before tonight’s game to say the Pistons didn’t tank yesterday. Then, he tightened his rotation. Against Minnesota. On April 19.

Through three quarters, Austin Daye (30 minutes yesterday), Will Bynum (16 minutes yesterday) and Walker Russell (12 minutes yesterday) hadn’t played, Macklin (23 minutes yesterday) had played three minutes and Damien Wilkins (19 minutes yesterday) had played four minutes.

It appeared the Pistons on the court were trying, though their ineffectiveness led to what might have looked like a sign of tanking – Charlie Villanueva playing 23 minutes, many of them at center – but wasn’t actually tanking.

That was just the Pistons’ lack of athleticism being amplified by playing their third game game in three nights and facing an athletic opponent. Besides Tayshaun Prince (18 points, five rebounds and three assists), who rested yesterday, the Pistons looked shockingly slow. Especially with Ben Wallace out to attend a funeral, the slender Villanueva was necessary at center.

The Pistons trailed by 20 before Frank went deeper down the bench during the fourth quarter – as practically any coach would on practically any team in practically any situation – bringing in Bynum, who made the score somewhat respectable.

The Pistons were that hapless against the Timberwolves, a tanking expert who went 0-24 in their previous two Aprils. At least Detroit lost, guaranteeing it can’t finish with a better record than Minnesota.

I don’t begrudge the Pistons for refusing to tank (or at least refusing to take extreme tanking measures), and I wouldn’t be upset if they returned to tanking like they apparently did in Atlanta. Really, I’m ambivalent on their method.

But the Timberwolves, when healthy, are better than the Pistons right now, and Minnesota has a better group of young players. It would be a shame if they got a higher draft pick, too. As pointed out by Max, the Hornets own Minnesota’s first-round pick.

I’m happy the Pistons didn’t try to lose tonight, but I’m even happier they lost.

Most Valuable Player

Nikola Pekovic. Jose Juan Barea (13 points and 12 assists) and Anthony Randolph (15 points and 10 rebounds) had double-doubles, but Pekovic (23 points and nine rebounds) dominated inside – especially with the game close.

Least Valuable Player

Brandon Knight (2-of-12 shooting, one assist in 27 minutes). Knight’s struggles, given that he’s a rookie, are understandable, but they look even worse considering…


Will Bynum. Bynum didn’t play until the fourth quarter, but he finished with 17 points and almost single-handedly engineered a Detroit comeback.

Pistons will probably stop tanking for a game they should really tank


  • Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves at Detroit Piston
  • Date: April 19, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit


  • Pistons: 23-39
  • Timberwolves: 25-38

Probable starters



  • J.J. Barea
  • Martell Webster
  • Wesley Johnson
  • Anthony Randolph
  • Nikola Pekovic

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons -5

Over/under: 197.5

Score: Pistons win, 101.25-96.25

Read about the Timberwolves

A Wolf Among Wolves

Brandon Knight ranked has having sixth-most upside in rookie class

ESPN’s David Thorpe ranked NBA rookies “if they reach their full potential,” and Brandon Knight placed sixth:

Knight may be the only rookie who wishes his season wasn’t coming to end. He’s been eye-opening good in April. Detroit’s "shoot-first" point guard wasn’t making shots early on, but he has slowed down and is now making shots with ease. It’s easy to see him becoming one of the better scoring and shooting point guards in the league, all while being a solid assist man who rarely turns the ball over.

When Knight was a freshman at Kentucky, I saw him as similar to Chauncey Billups, and that’s still where I see Knight going. He’s played basically 300 more minutes than any other rookie this season — a fact that should provide him with a huge number of reference points that will help him and his coaching staff create a summer workout plan. Knight, who is known for his tireless work ethic, and Greg Monroe will likely be the core that helps return Detroit to relevance.

I agree with Thorpe’s rationale, but I think his ranking of Knight is a tad high. Thorpe has Bismack Biyombo and Enes Kanter below Knight, but I think both big men, if they reach their full potential, would be better than a fully developed Knight.

Lawrence Frank voted one of least desirable coaches by NBA players

Sports Illustrated polled 134 NBA players about the coach they’d most and least like to play for, and Lawrence Frank received four percent of the least vote. That means at least five NBA players don’t want to play for Frank.

Is that significant? Maybe, maybe not.

It’s most important that the 14 players in Detroit’s locker room want to play for him, and how many of them participated in the survey? How many of the players who chose a different coach they’d most most like to play for would have picked Frank second? How many players picked Frank just because of his record without taking a more nuanced look at him?

I wish Frank would’ve fared better in this survey, but the fact that he didn’t isn’t necessarily telling.

Jason Maxiell considering opting out of his contract after comeback season

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Maxiell, who signed a four-year, $20 million extension right before the 2008-09 season, has a player option for next season where he could become a restricted free agent.

If he did so, he’d leave $5 million on the table.

“It’s an option,” Maxiell said

While he’s unlikely to get $5 million a season from another team, long-term security could be in mind for the 29-year-old forward and now could be just as good a time as any to hit the market.

“That could be the smart thing to do, but Detroit’s my home and the security I have with them could be great for next season,” said Maxiell, who’s married and a father of an infant son. “But again, I had a great year but the time hasn’t come yet.”

Jason Maxiell would be an unrestricted free agent – not a restricted free agent, as Goodwill wrote said an editor inserted before the error was corrected in the story without acknowledging the article previously contained an inaccuracy – but otherwise, that’s the case. Maxiell could give himself a chance at more long-term money at the expense of a short-term pay cut by opting out.

It’s remarkable Maxiell is even in the position where this is relevant. He was a legitimate amnesty candidate before the season, but after dropping weight, he’s played very well as a starter this year.

It’s for that reason, I’d be leery of re-signing Maxiell if he opts out. He’d be opting out to get a long-term contract, and he hasn’t shown a motivation to stay in shape until his contract year.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Terrence Jones

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag


  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, sophomore forward from Kentucky
  • Key Stats: 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game, 50 percent shooting, 33 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Lottery to mid first round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

The Pistons play two guards in Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey who aren’t natural pass-first players. They have one unselfish big man in Greg Monroe who is an excellent passer. Pairing him with another great passing big man in Jones could make the Pistons a pretty fun team to watch.

Pros for the Pistons

On the checklist of things the Pistons need in their frontcourt, Jones hits a lot of those marks — he’s big, he’s athletic, he can block shots. He’s not the traditional back-to-the-basket big man with those skills the Pistons covet, he’s more of a hybrid with a mix of small and power forward skills. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Pistons don’t have a clear answer for the future at either position. If they’re picking late in the lottery from prospects who are more limited, at least Jones would have two possible positions they could try him at to see which he’d be best suited to play as a pro. Other late lottery prospects who have similar upside limitations basically only have one natural position, so if they can’t prove to be a starting caliber player at that spot, you don’t get a chance to see if they’d be more comfortable at another position.

Cons for the Pistons

I think it’s pretty clear the Pistons would rather not add another player whose position is somewhat a question into the mix. Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, Knight and Stuckey all fit that description to some extent — guys who can be effective at multiple spots, but not necessarily at any one spot full-time.

Jones also had consistency problems his sophomore season and regressed some from where he was as a freshman. That’s partially due to the makeup of Kentucky’s team drastically changing around him and impacting his role, but the Pistons have expressed a commitment to players with high energy levels who give consistent effort each game, and fair or not, that has been a criticism of Jones at times.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Sixteen months ago, after a torrid start to his freshman year, forward Terrence Jones was being mentioned as a potential top-five pick as well. His stock has since dropped considerably, but his strong play in the NCAA tournament has piqued the interest of scouts again. Jones is one of the most well-rounded prospects in the draft, has all of the physical tools to succeed, and when he’s on, he looks like a potential All-Star.

For Jones, the question marks are consistency and maturity. He can disappear for long stretches. Calipari has sometimes struggled to get him to play hard all of the time. Teams don’t always like his body language on the court. All of those issues seem to have lessened over the course of the past month. If teams are convinced those issues are over, he could go even higher than we currently have him ranked. We have him at No. 8 on our Big Board and going No. 12 to the Milwaukee Bucks in our Lottery Mock Draft.


When projecting Jones to the next level, there are many opinions on how he could best be utilized and what position he should play, as he seems to be stuck between small forward and power forward. He could probably get away with playing either spot depending on the team, style of play, and the personnel around him.


Length, lateral mobility and quickness off the deck make him a versatile force on the defensive end and on both backboards … Instant fast break potential with his ability to handle and push the rock in transition.

Kentucky Sports Radio:

He’s coming off a very strong finish to the season after his draft stock plummeted earlier in the year. The way he played in the tournament is fresh on scout’s minds and he should capitalize on that and keep it rolling through camps.

What is the best thing Terrence Jones does for his team?

Aaron Smith (follow him on Twitter) is the UK basketball beat writer for The Kentucky Kernel, UK’s student newspaper:

Terrence Jones provides a highly desirable and hard-to-find skill set in a forward. He’s a versatile scorer, able to drive from the perimeter or post up in the paint. He can defend on the wing or the interior. And he can rebound well when he’s asked. Jones has to work on playing with a more consistent effort, but the tools are there for an NBA team to work with.