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Pistons’ loss to Bucks was nearly perfect

That was pretty perfect, right?

Detroit’s 113-97 loss to the Bucks on Friday featured three things very important to the rebuilding Pistons:

  • Greg Monroe (16 points and 10 rebounds and two blocks) playing well
  • Brandon Knight (25 points, eight assists and five rebounds) playing even better
  • Improved lottery odds

I’m not disappointed. I’m not upset. I’m not surprised.

This is, for the most part, who the 2011-12 Pistons are.

Rodney Stuckey (seven points and five turnovers) will usually play better, and Ben Gordon (24 points on 8-of-12 shooting) will usually play worse – but, on the whole, this was a fairly typical Pistons performance. They’re clearly worse than the Bucks – a nothing-special team that wouldn’t make the playoffs if the season ended today, though they’ve been playing better since trading for Monta Ellis.

Detroit’s defense was especially problematic – if you could say the Pistons actually played defense. The Bucks – especially Drew Gooden (26 points and eight assists), Brandon Jennings (20 points and 10 assists) and Ellis (18 points and seven assists ) – got wherever they wanted whenever they wanted and, from those advantageous spots, moved the ball with ease. Milwaukee finished with an incredible 36 assists on 45 field goals.

It wasn’t pretty for the Pistons, but this season hasn’t been pretty for the Pistons, and I’ve learned to tune out most of the negatives and focus on only their progress.

I remain wildly optimistic about Monroe and cautiously optimistic about Knight, receiving more reasons for encouragement tonight.

As far as the biggest problem, Detroit’s defense? See the third bullet above.


  • Apr 14, 20121:26 am
    by Mark


    Yes, best case scenario is to lose every remaining game, while Monroe/Knight have good games, and the other lottery teams win.

    Tonight we lost, got good games from Monroe/Knight, and NJ/TOR won. Perfect in my book.

    • Apr 14, 201210:56 am
      by Roit?


      NJ/TOR won. Perfect in my book also. Hope Pistons can gain a good draft.

      • Apr 14, 20122:34 pm
        by D_S_V


        Just read that Toronto is “shutting down” Bargnani for the rest of the season. Believe it or not I missed the Raptors game where he was “injured” so I don’t know if this is a convenient excuse to tank the rest of the way or if he’s really hurt. Nevertheless, after a hopeful morning of checking who the Pistons could surpass in the L column, Toronto seems less likely now.

  • Apr 14, 201212:01 pm
    by Daye and Knight


    Aww damn, and I was JUST getting used to the idea of drafting Sullinger…

  • Apr 14, 20122:08 pm
    by steve battle creek, mi


    didnt know if you saw the piece by David Thorpe on espn for his annual rookie to veteran comparison.  he said knight should study deron williams, said he is not a true pg now, but will learn just like williams. 

  • Apr 14, 20122:16 pm
    by steve battle creek, mi


    if the pistons end up with the 8th or 9th pick, would they trade that pick to the bobcats for biyombo?  say that harrison barnes is still there and bobcats want him.  so our 9th pick and will bynum for biyombo and charlottes 1strd pick next year? mybe top 5 protected

    • Apr 14, 20123:16 pm
      by Steve K


      Can’t imagine Charlotte giving up biyombo and next years pick. Perhaps biyombo for our pick straight up.

      • Apr 14, 201210:46 pm
        by frankie d


        they are not trading biyombo… period.
        if detroit had not gone on one of its patented late season winning streaks, they probably would have been able to draft him.  instead, because detroit has had the braindead idea that its a great thing to play your vets each game, even games that hurt your lottery position, charlotte swooped down and got him.  good for them.
        ridiculously dumb of detroit to keep playing their main guys till the last game, when everyone else was shutting guys down.
        why on earth was rodney stuckey playing after collapsing on the court and his team out of the playoffs?
        how did that make any sense? 
        deal with it…biyombo would have been a great pick for detroit, but charlotte is not trading him.

  • Apr 14, 20123:19 pm
    by frankie d


    thanks for the link to the article.
    funny…outside observers clearly see how screwed up things still are here in detroit.
    the writer calls detroit fans “delusional” for thinking that the team is close to being a contender again.
    he wonders just what the heck detroit is doing.
    my sentiments exactly.
    other teams are scrambling, trying to improve their draft position, shutting down players and detroit is scrambling to win every game they can win.  they’ve had a win streak at the end of the year the last two years, each time taking them down/up a few notches.
    as the writer said, detroit seems to be trying to get to mediocrity.

    • Apr 14, 20124:52 pm
      by MNM


      Agree. He, like others, see the facade that Joe D is spinning. “Rebuilding” with the same old same old.. These guys playing with “pride” doesn’t impress me. Heres to getting an EXTREMELY lucky bounce!…I know..

  • Apr 14, 20123:42 pm
    by Nick II


    If the Pistons end up picking #8 John Henson is a player they should consider.I’ve been watching him since he was a freshman and he has gotten better every year.He is a real good defender and his offense is very underrate.He is a very hard worker too.Everyone says he is too skinny, but he has gained 20 lbs since his freshman yr. If you really think about it 90% of the players in the draft needs to get stronger.


    • Apr 14, 20123:57 pm
      by frankie d


      what position is henson going to defend?
      not as a weakside help defender, but one on one?
      5s?  4s?  3s?
      strong enough to defend 4s and 5s?
      agile enough to defend 3s?

  • Apr 14, 20124:59 pm
    by Nick II


    Well frankie d who would you pick at #8 that would be a better defender then Henson?I would rather take Henson than undersized Jared Sullinger at the 8 spot.

    • Apr 14, 20126:22 pm
      by frankie d


      i’m not sure who i would take.  it would definitely not be henson, however.  not that high.  i’d take him late first or beyond, but there are just too many other talented guys to take a flier on a guy who has rotation player written all over him.
      that is the problem picking in the range the pistons have been stuck – 6…7…8 and beyond in the lottery.  you are usually going to have to take a chance on guys who have question marks, or else they would have been taken in the top 3 or 5.
      i might take sullinger.  i think he will be at least a competent defender in the post, a la mahorn or kevin love or laimbeer.  he’s strong, takes to coaching well and he plays hard.  the only problem is that he has the same problems – lack of shotblocking, lateral quickness – that monroe has.  but i think that he will be someone who will competently play low post defense.
      the guy i would take, if i wanted a low post defensive presence would be jeff withey of kansas.  i think he will be as good and probably better than henson, and he will probably be available early second round.  he’s bigger than henson, seems to have a better frame, as he’s gotten bigger and stronger as he’s gotten older, and he seems to have a more aggressive nature than henson.  one thing i don’t like about henson is his demeanor, his tendency to laugh and joke on the court.  it would be one thing if he was dennis rodman crazy and laughed and joked, but he doesn’t have rodman’s nuttiness or aggression and, personally, i like my big guys to act more like danny fortson, than allan houston.
      one player i would seriously consider at the 8 spot would be royce white.  
      mind you, i would ONLY draft him if and when a battery of psychologists and psychiatrists gave me the go-ahead, because his mental issues are certainly relevant and huge red flags.  but if the professionals told me that, in their opinion, he’d be okay, i’d draft him.  
      at that spot, any of the guys are a gamble.  but most of them would be gambles who might pay off in a decent starter, not a star player.  royce white would be a gamble who, if he paid off, could be an all-nba player for a decade.  he is as talented as anyone in the draft, including davis, and if i’m picking at 8, and if the prognosis is good, he is the guy i would gamble on.
      but again, only after getting sufficient information about his mental state.

    • Apr 14, 20128:57 pm
      by tarsier


      I’d rather have PJ3. Lower floor, but much higher ceiling. Henson will probably be a Perkins/Okafor type. Nice guy to have and all, but Jones looks more like a Danny Granger–a very good second option on a championship level team. The Pistons may not have a great first option. But Monroe, Jones, and Stuckey are all good enough second options to make up for it. Then they just need to get rid of Prince and sign a decent player when they get cap space in 2014. 2014-15 could be the Pistons’ year to return to contention if they play their cards right.

      • Apr 14, 201210:40 pm
        by frankie d


        perkins was a great shooter.  he had range all the way out to 3 points.  he flirted with .40% on 3′s a couple of years.    he was probably 20-30 pounds heavier.  he was similarly awkward, but his strength and shooting range compensated.  
        no comparison to henson.  henson’s range is about 8-12 feet at best.   he can’t just sit out there and knock down 3 pointers or long two’s which is what sam could do.   he’s nowhere near as strong as sam perkins.
        no comparison at all, other than the school and the fact that they were fairly awkward players.  it is one thing to be awkward but fairly strong – sam had a huge, barrel chest and wide shoulders on him, even if his legs were spindly – and to be awkward and to be able to sit out on the perimeter and knock down shots, it’s another to be weak and basically a guy who gets his points in the paint against smaller, weaker – than you – guys.
        surely you jest about okafur?  while okafur may have been somewhat awkward, he made up for it because he was a country strong MFer.  okafur was one of the strongest guys to come into the league in the last decade or so.  henson would be one of the weakest.  
        where is the comparison?
        granger is a shooter with almost unlimited range.
        jones is a do it all slasher who gets almost all of his points from the midrange area on in.
        he mignt shoot a 20 footer occasionally, but that is the exception.
        jones would probably be best suited as a 3rd option, a guy the team did not have to depend on. talented, but without the pressure of bringing it every night.  sort of like how sheed was at his best.  but he’s nothing like granger, who is a pure sniper.  jones might actually be more talented, though he may never reach granger’s level.  he could, but he might not. 
        i agree that they need to ditch prince, though i doubt they will.  and instead of signing a free agent, draft your new guy: royce white, jae crowder, draymond green, terrance ross.  
        free agent signees are typically too expensive and rarely worth what you have to pay to get them.  save your cap space for creative trades where you take guys that other teams need to ditch, for whatever reason.

        • Apr 14, 201210:58 pm
          by tarsier


          By Perkins, I meant Kendrick Perkins.

        • Apr 14, 201211:01 pm
          by tarsier


          And I wasn’t referring to any awkwardness at all. i’m not even sure what you mean by that. I mean, like Okafor and Kendrick Perkins, Henson projects as a poor man’s Tyson Chandler (or just a Tyson Chandler for his whole career before last season with Dallas). Good defenders, but not great. Prototypical centers. Nice addition to a team, but inevitably overpaid. Yeah Henson is much skinnier than them. But for some reason I doubt that his slenderness will really be a huge deal.

  • Apr 14, 201211:44 pm
    by frankie d


    perkins, kendrick is even more of a stretch.
    kendrick came into the league overweight, a bully.  he’s still a bully, but he’s in shape now.  he’s a physical presence, which would never be said of henson.
    chandler was always an elite athlete.   he just needed to focus.  
    he was exremely fluid for a big guy, he just didn’t have any skills.
    henson is just the opposite.  you can tell he’s had excellent coaching in the past, but he’s just not that good of an athlete.  he’s got skills, because he’s had good coaching.  and he’s tall and long, but not a fluid athlete like chandler.  sp he is successful at the college level with the combo of his length and his skills, but he’s a mediocre athlete.  it amazes me that people cannot see that about him.  he’s a big doofus.
    you can’t just define a guy as a “good defender” without saying who he is going to defend.
    again…who is he going to defend?  what position?
    and what player in the nba is like him…and successful?
    he may be able to get away with his “slenderness” in college, but it will matter in the nba.
    not a huge deal in the nba?
    since when has physical weakness for big guys NOT been an issue.
    that has to rank as one of the silliest things i’ve ever heard. 
    nba big men take the lunch money of skinny guys.  they even do it to guys who play on the perimeter – daye- so what do you think will happen to guys – what does happen regularly to guys – like henson who come into the league without strength?
    they get punked.

    • Apr 15, 20128:35 am
      by tarsier


      Again, on neither count was I referring to body shape, I was referring to production and impact. Huge difference there.

      Also, Henson isn’t weak, he’s of slight build. But I guess neither of us can bring much evidence on that count, so let’s just agree to disagree until the combine gives us some data.

      The fact of the matter is that I would rather have a guy who doesn’t look the part of an NBA player but produces like one than a guy who looks the part but doesn’t play that well. Production simply translates better than the eye test.

      Also, most college guys get bigger and stronger after coming to the NBA.

      Henson is not my idea draft target anyway, and ignoring red flags about his lack of girth would be a mistake for any GM with Henson on his draft board, but you seem to want to only look at the guy and completely disregard what he has been able to do in spite of being slender. That too would be a huge mistake.

  • Apr 15, 201212:37 pm
    by frankie d


    i understand the difference between slight of build and weak and thin.  
    dennis rodman was slight of build but strong. latrell sprewell was slight, but very strong. jordan was slight, but strong.   brandon knight seems to be slight of build, but pretty strong.  garnett gained lots of strength but was still pretty thin.
    henson is weak and thin.
    daye is weak and thin.
    tay is weak and thin.  
    some guys never get any bigger simply because of genetics.  their frame cannot handle more weight.
    danny ferry was an example of that.  he tried desperately to bulk up and ended up being the same bird-chested skinny guy he always was the day he retired.
    i don’t know about henson, but he looks to have a narrow chest and shoulders, which usually means that he will have a real limit on his ability to bulk up and add weight and strength.  (he does not appear to be one of those rodman-type, strong, skinny guys.) 
    i watch lots of college BB and i watched lots of NC BB.  henson got pushed around a lot.  whenever he ran up against a big guy with any kind of bulk – even anthony davis, who was not a huge guy, but who seems to be wiry strong – he got punked, and had to scramble just to maintain his position on both ends.
    do you even watch much college BB?  i get the feeling you are simply looking at stats and examining “production” rather than actually basing your opinion on having watched the players.
    i cannot tell if you are being facetious about lack of size and bulk not mattering.
    in detroit we’ve had plenty of lessons that tell us that it matters a lot.
    daye is exhibit A…and he’s a perimeter guy.
    tay’s inability – or maybe refusal, who knows – to add weight and strength had a hugely negative impact on the team during its heyday.  one of the huge problems the pistons constantly encountered was tay’s inability to handle the power 3′s like pierce and lebron as the team went further in the playoffs.  he constantly got manhandled by those bigger, stronger 3′s and his lack of sheer size and strength was a big part of his problem.
    of course you always want to do your due dilligence in order to determine how a player will physically project into the future.  
    i’m not talking about how the player “looks”; i am talking about how his physical presence, or lack thereof, impacts on his production.  and there have been plenty of college players who get drafted and because of their inability to handle the league’s physicality, they fail.  
    thabeet and yi are just two of the latest examples.
    brandan wright is another who is only now carving out a niche as a 4/5 who can play in a zone, but who is incapable of defending man to man because of his slight build.

    • Apr 15, 20123:43 pm
      by tarsier


      I understand your point. And I certainly don’t think strength is meaningless. It is just one of several factors. I don’t think Henson is all that weak. But as I mentioned before, we will probably have to wait for the combine to know for sure. Also, I was surprised by your example of Thabeet. he is definitely not weak. He just is not that good, even on defense. He is a good shot blocker, but not a good defender. Weak players are definitely at a disadvantage, but not one they can’t overcome. Prince was a great example you gave of a guy who is not particularly strong but played very well for quite a while anyway. Other examples include Reggie Miller, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, and Brook Lopez. Other guys who would fail the eye test in some ways but play damn well anyway are Chris Paul and Kevin Love.

      But it is definitely harder for a scrawny weak player to make it as a big man than as a wing or PG. So we shall have to see if Henson is a Garnett/Rodman type who is deceptively strong, if he is a Bosh type who comes in as a toothpick but develops more in the pros, or if he will be a total bust.

  • Apr 15, 20124:57 pm
    by frankie d


    i’ve never said he’d be a bust.  i think he will probably be a bench guy who comes in and plays defense with the second unit.  there is a place in the league for guys like him, but they just don’t end up being starters and stars.
    in this draft, i would not use a lottery pick on that type of player.  i’d try to get that type of player in the second round.

    • Apr 15, 20126:17 pm
      by tarsier


      If such a player as you describe went in the top ten, I would describe that as a bust.

  • Apr 15, 20129:19 pm
    by frankie d


    i don’t define such a player in that fashion.  a bust, to me, is thabeet.  or yi. or adam morrison.  or patrick o’bryant.
    to me, henson, if he is lucky is brandon wright.  wright has found a spot in dallas, and he’s playing off the bench, with the second unit.  he’s a solid rotation player, now, after about 4 -5 years of failure.
    he was picked 8th in ’07.  
    imho, i guess you are describing wright as a bust.

    • Apr 16, 20126:37 pm
      by tarsier


      yes, i would. but i can understand not describing him that way. it is much like i describe kwame brown as a bust in spite of the fact that he has found roles on a couple teams. but if he went in the late teens, i would not describe him as a bust.

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